On a recent project where we’re installing hardwood floors, my clients offered to have their handyman/contractor, Tommy, receive the hardwood. We had it delivered 4 days early to acclimate before installation. I know Tommy through another client who has used him for years. When I called him, I got a pick up on the first ring and huge smile in his voice and total accommodation. Whatever I needed, he’d take care of. And then I remembered that on the recent master bath remodel we’d uncovered some of Tommy’s unconventional plumbing installation (and we replaced it to avoid an interior design fail.)
Tommy is one of those wonderful good ole boys who can figure out a way to do anything whether he knows how or not. The challenge is that it sometimes results in an interior design fail, or a contractor redo. And yet, when that happens, his genuine “aw shucks, let me fix that,” eases the pain of the problem and soothes client angst.
What I’ve noticed is that my clients are much more understanding of an interior design fail (or contractor fail) depending on the attitude of the professional failing. Tommy is one of those rare individuals who is always smiling. He is the sunshine in your day (I’m not kidding.) Kind of reminds me of the Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich commercial and the guy in the sunshine suit.
He takes his time, doesn’t often meet deadlines (has his own), and sometimes his creativity is just kind of crazy, but because he does it all with an undeniably positive (and laid back) attitude, clients seem to just roll with the punches. I’ve never hired Tommy, just experienced some of his unique creative solutions. But even when uncovered, the clients will bring him back to do more work because they trust him entirely to get it done in his time without any worry.
The pros I work with are experts in their craft and used to meeting deadlines. They are gifted problem solvers and have positive attitudes, but it isn’t like experiencing Tommy and his easy going optimism. Every designer needs a Tommy in their toolbox of talent. He’s the perfect answer when clients aren’t in a hurry and they have a long list of assorted “get it dones” that don’t require design or a specialist. Tommy gets it done and they almost miss him when he’s gone.
Personally when I’ve tackled problems and issues (okay, interior design fail) I tend to go into overdrive. While my client will see my professional side, behind the scenes, I’m anxious and concerned. Grace would serve me far better. Mistakes happen. It’s how you handle them that makes the difference. Just taking responsibility and fixing isn’t enough. Handling it with grace and even a bit of “aw shucks, I’ve got this” will take you farther. Learn from Tommy.