Best Behavior On The Jobsite

jobsite-professional-0116I made a blog post recently about dressing appropriately for the workplace, and Leonard Suskin left a comment about one of his pet peeves: Technicians who wear rock concert t-shirts and grubby jeans on jobsites.

He’s right, of course.

That got me to thinking about professionalism, and what constitutes professional conduct on the job site.

Showing up on time and doing a good job, that’s obvious. But as they say, the devil is in the details, and oftentimes what separates the good professionals from the great ones can be subtle.

I define professionalism as not only doing your best, but presenting yourself to others in a positive way. Here’s some thoughts on how to further differentiate yourselves and your personnel from your competition.

Right off the bat, maintain a standard for clean, well groomed appearance. I acknowledge that installers often spend their day covered in drill shavings, drywall dust and, on hot summer days rooting through attics, sweat.

Regardless, showing up in the morning on the jobsite showered, groomed and in clean work clothes makes a better first impression than otherwise.

Something that was drilled into my head early on by my boss was to park the work trucks at the curb, and avoid parking in the client’s driveway. Why? Partly so the client can get out of or into their garage.

But there’s a more important reason: There’s been a trend for multimillion-dollar designer houses to have designer dressed stone or textured, pebbled driveways in designer colors. No matter how well maintained your work vehicles are, they have hard lives. It would be unfortunate to have a surprise oil leak stain the client’s brand new ten thousand dollar driveway.

Yes, it’s possible to spend ten grand on a driveway, and a lot more (Pro tip: In the initial consultation, while you’re trying to feel out the client’s prospective AV budget, ask them about their plans for the driveway).

Another one that was drummed into me as a rookie Wire Monkey (3rd Class) was to treat the client’s house better than my own. Details matter — before work begins, during and after: Put down drop cloths in high traffic areas, use painters tape on exposed corners, vacuuming as you go when boring holes or cutting drywall, wearing white cotton gloves when working near freshly painted surfaces. Leave no trace of your work behind.

Here’s an unlikely example of the benefits of professionalism — washroom access. More importantly, the repeat business that can accrue from such professionalism.

At my old employer, we had a long-time client who had us do the systems in all their residences in three different cities. By the time I left the company we had done seven of their homes.Naturally, over the years, they got to know us and our team very well. Their standards and expectations were extremely high, which speaks volumes about the repeat business they gave us, not to mention the referral business to their well-off friends. Our team was held in such regard that on their projects, during the finishing stages all other trades people were explicitly forbidden from using the washrooms in their homes, except for us. The exception was made for us only because they knew that it would be as if we were never there all.

Clearly, the details matter a lot.