Thursday, January 25, 2007

Woody Allen Was Right

Woody Allen is often quoted as having said, "Eighty percent of life is just showing up."* There are some days when I think it's more like 99%.

I arrived at this figure after trying to find contractors to do work on Our Gracious Home. We needed to have our barren yard landscaped, so in early fall I phoned four garden designers/landscapers, all of whom had advertised in a local home-improvement magazine. Only two returned my call. Both offered me estimates: one for the figure we'd budgeted, the other for 3 times that amount. The job went to the first guy; #2 was booked till spring anyway. (I doubt spring is ever coming, but that's another issue.)

Our concrete front steps started crumbling in early December. I called 12 (TWELVE!) masonry contractors who had ads in a neighborhood newspaper or were listed in the Yellow Pages. Only 5 (FIVE!)--not including the company with the quarter-page ad in the phone book--returned my calls, of which:
  • one made an appointment and didn't show or call;
  • one looked at steps while I was out, quoted price over phone, then never returned subsequent phone calls;
  • one missed an appointment (his girlfriend had their baby early), then came while I was out and quoted a price over phone, then came by to discuss expanded scope of work but never called back with new price;
  • one returned call & showed up promptly, but told me he didn't do concrete;
  • one returned call, showed up promptly, called with estimate & faxed it to me, then called a week or so later to follow up.
Guess who got the job? And guess who got beautiful stone-faced steps--in only 2 (TWO!) days, just before the last Denver deep freeze?

  1. Return all phone calls & email, even if it's just to say "No thanks!"
  2. Do what you say you're going to do. SHOW UP. ON TIME! (If you can't, apologize and reschedule promptly.)
  3. After you show up, FOLLOW UP.

*I found numbers online ranging from 70% up to 99%, but Allen himself said 80% in an interview cited on Gadfly Online. (Small world: I used to review books for Gadfly when it was a print publication.)


Zany Mom said...

I hear you! I'm still waiting to find an electrician to wire my dryer. Here it sits, six months later, unable to be used, as the plug is not connected to the fuse box. I've had 4 electricians actually come out, and none ever bothered to call me back with a quote, nor return phone calls.

This month it's tracking down a plumber. I called 2 last week, and neither called me back. I did manage to call one today, who not only got back to me, but even showed up unscheduled, to look at the faucet issue! Needless to say I was stunned. And of course, he laughed when he saw the problem, that I could fix myself, but the town was mandating that a licensed plumber screw a device to my faucet.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* Woody Allen is often right. Did you know he's my celebrity exception to marital fidelity?

Tish Cohen