Calm af­ter the storm: A ma­jor house ren­o­va­tion high­lights vi­tal les­sons about ex­cel­lence in cus­tomer ser­vice for Fiona Blayney.

Elite Property Manager - - The Last Word - FIONA BLAYNEY is the Founder and Di­rec­tor of Real+, an in­dus­try-first prop­erty man­age­ment learn­ing plat­form. For more in­for­ma­tion visit re­

There is some­thing about watch­ing mere mor­tals at­tempt­ing to ren­o­vate what ap­pears to be the ‘un­ren­o­vat­able’ (and yes, I’m sure that’s a word) in a mat­ter of weeks, with lim­ited to no ex­pe­ri­ence, whilst liv­ing through the un­liv­able.

Now that I think about it, watch­ing re­al­ity ren­o­va­tion shows for some­one who has never ren­o­vated is akin to be­ing an arm­chair sports per­son. We are all bril­liant at read­ing ev­ery play when we have a he­li­copter view of ev­ery per­son on the field, a stan­dard rest­ing heart rate and a bev­er­age in hand in the tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled con­di­tions of our lounge room.

Then one day you take to the field, or in the case of ren­o­vat­ing you step on site, and even­tu­ally you are hit by that mo­ment where you fi­nally move back in.

It was 4:30 am the morn­ing of move in; the trucks of our ‘stuff’ were to ar­rive, much of which was in stor­age and I had not seen for 10 months (the story of culling is for an­other day), and we were head­ing to site for 5 am to make sure the floor that had only been sanded the evening be­fore was dry. And whilst they were all dry, re­do­ing them has been added to the list; think cor­roded rollers leav­ing resid­ual fi­bres em­bed­ded in and if you add the plumber, a sil­i­con trade plus the shower guy, you have a pretty good im­pres­sion of what the place looked like through­out the day. Oh, and don’t for­get the well-in­tended fam­ily mem­bers and neigh­bours drop­ping by to help. All we needed was Scotty Cam to call in and some judges to ar­rive, and we would have surely com­busted into a hot mess.

It stands to rea­son that ren­o­vat­ing a 130+ year old house will have its chal­lenges: wa­ter, drainage, foot­ings and wrong mea­sure­ments. Of course, with any build there are the stan­dard tradie slip-ups, neigh­bour dis­putes and my chang­ing my mind at times. So what it takes to com­plete a ren­o­va­tion of this size, where at the end you are invit­ing your builder and his fam­ily over for a BBQ be­cause you’re miss­ing your daily chats, pro­vides some fan­tas­tic les­sons in life and busi­ness.

In what has been the most chal­leng­ing year of my life yet, I have learnt about my­self, my re­la­tion­ship and my busi­ness from a place I had not en­vis­aged 12 months ago: from some­one af­fec­tion­ately known in our fam­ily as Paul the Builder. (If you ask my four-year-old, Paul is re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery build you see in Syd­ney.)

Paul re­minded me that, not just in real es­tate but in busi­ness ev­ery­where, we all want our ser­vice sup­pli­ers to pro­vide the same thing: to un­der­stand our vi­sion, be­come our part­ner in the process, keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion at an all-time high and look for the small things that could make a massive dif­fer­ence. For us, this cost the sum to­tal of $50 – the re­moval of a 30 cm wall nib which sin­gle-hand­edly trans­formed the feel of the house.

We don’t want to feel like a prob­lem, like we are too much trou­ble; we want to be kept away from prob­lems yet aware of process and progress. Paul, de­spite his heavy load, en­sured he de­liv­ered on all of the above, in­clud­ing the tech­ni­cal side of our build, as ex­pected – I think some­times we for­get the au­to­matic as­sump­tion that we can do the tech­ni­cal.

In read­ing my de­scrip­tion of room re­veal day, you may have had faint heart pal­pi­ta­tions just think­ing about the fe­roc­ity that was seething through the house. In re­al­ity, it was a re­ally calm en­vi­ron­ment. Paul turned up with cof­fees and croissants for the crew, and ev­ery­one moved to a rhyth­mic beat to­wards the dead­line. It was Paul’s beat: a tech­ni­cally pro­fi­cient busi­ness op­er­at­ing from a place of au­then­tic­ity, love and care.

I hope your clients can say the same of you. ■


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