Preventing Your Customer From Making Bad Choices

When the customer is wrong

Now we know that the customer isn't always right. On today's project, I'm going to actually take you with me when we walk through a job where the customer is clearly wrong. So, this is going to be removing the swimming pool and building a paver patio, in this courtyard area. In fact, I'm going to challenge you to start to understand that the majority of the time, the customer, they don't know what's going on in their project, but you are the expert. They're relying and depending on your expertise to guide them and direct them to the point where you've also got to protect them from themselves. On today's job site we're going to show you exactly where this happened. So let's get into it. Now in this specific case, the customer wanted us to remove a swimming pool, then he wanted a remote patio installed. See this permit? It's orange; it should be gold. It took me two weeks to get this permit to remove the swimming pool when it should have taken me two hours. There is something I want to show you guys. Look at this swimming pool. You see that water in the bottom? That's actually not contained by the swimming pool. That's coming up from underneath the swimming pool.

Paver Patio

There's going to be a paver patio built exactly on the deep end of this swimming pool; because the groundwater is so high in the area, we've got to do a soil correction. The way we're going to do that is, we're going to bring three to six-inch rip rap in. We're going to bring that up just above the water elevation. Then we're going to lay filter fabric to separate the riprap, and then we're going to use structural fill to bring the rest of the elevation to the bottom of the paver patio. That way we know we can safely build a paver patio. We proceeded to remove the swimming pool and prep the area to install a high-end patio. The problem occurred when we removed the swimming pool and found a swamp. So yesterday I shot a video explaining to you that we're doing a soil correction on this job, and I want to show you the materials we're using and why we chose them. You can see down to the bottom; I am standing where there was water yesterday. And the reason I chose this material, this is three to six-inch rock. There is no binder in this material. The reason I don't want any binder in this material is that this is going to be underwater. I could never get that binding agent to compact that.


There is no binder in this material. The reason I don't want any binder in this material is that this is going to be underwater. I could never get that binding agent to compact that; clean material doesn't need compaction and as soon as it's placed you run over it. Once it gets above the water table and it reaches its level, it's compact because it locks in place. That's the best way you can do a soil correction like this if you were exposed to high water elevation.

Soil Correction

We began a soil correction and this is all additional work because it's unforeseen circumstances. And we started to analyze what was going on. We found that the soil correction was so expensive that it would be cost prohibitive for the benefits that the customer would receive. This is where you as a contractor need to protect the customer from themselves. In this case, my customer gave us the green light. He's like, I don't care I really want this done out there, just let's get 'er done. A lot of times the customer's emotions will take over and they'll get high on that rush that they really want this thing, but they'll pay for it years down the road. I sat down with him. I said, look before we go full- fledged into a soil correction so we can build the remote patio for you, let's do something a little different. Let's actually install a yard and let the area settle. If you don't mind waiting, what we can do is we can watch and see how much ground movement we have before we put up a patio. That way we can know exactly where we can install the patio, where we have to do the soil correction, and what areas we can leave untouched. So in reality what we did is, we showed the whole concept of installing a remote patio and we opted to install a yard. If the ground moves under the grass, it's not a big deal. If the ground moves under a solid surface, it's going to crack, shift, and break, and the customer is not going to be happy.

Saving the Customer Money

Even though we had already started doing a small soil correction, we didn't want to tear up the customer's entire yard to establish the infrastructure needed to hold up the patio. We established a yard for this customer at a fraction of the cost. The end result was, the customer so loved just having the yard space and the extra usable flat area that he could throw a ball around with his kids, that he left it. In this instance, the customer gave us the green light to go ahead and perform a soil correction, which we cautioned him against doing. We convinced him to give a chance at just establishing yard space, green space, and allowing the soil to settle naturally. And then going back after the fact and establishing a hard surface, if in the future they wanted to do it. He was absolutely as much satisfied with the final result, as his initial dream was to have a patio.

Customer is not always Right

The customer is not always right. You are the professional. You need to use your experience to direct the customer down the right path, and that is why you're there. Champagne taste in a beer budget is what most customers will have. After they find you, they will literally put all of their trust and confidence into you and jeopardize their own financial future while they're caught up in the heat of the moment. Do not take advantage of them. That's where a lot of contractors get a bad name. But your reputation, when you actually hold the customer back from pulling the trigger and going all in, you may lose on one job but your reputation will carry you along and keep you so absolutely busy and swamped with work, you'll never have to go looking for another project again. I hope this helped you guys out. You guys understand the customer isn't always right; it's up to you guys to use your knowledge to guide them on the right path. God bless, go get them. What are you waiting for?  


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