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Why the fence was backward

We had a real nice customer last week ... and put her fence in backward. She wanted the smooth side in to the yard, but we reversed it.


It was entirely my fault. She and I had talked (over the phone) about which way to face the darn thing; but when I asked, “Pickets out?” and she agreed, we pictured different outcomes.

You see, I’m in the business. I know fences and fence-speak. She’s a nurse, and doesn’t know a knot from an owl hole. Of course I don’t know what a ligament is either. Not really. It’s probably the same as a tendon, or a fallopian whatever.

Usually, I meet the customer at the start of a job to review the details. This particular lady couldn’t meet, though, so we skipped the stage where I point to something nearby and say, “Like that.” 

Now, you might suppose this’ll turn into an observation on handling angry customers, but it won’t. Why would I say she’s nice? Here’s how she complained:  “The fence is beautiful. I love it. Also, it’s in the wrong way.”

There’s a good and a bad way to nit-pick with a contractor, and she knows the good way; the one that ends in a swift and happy conclusion.

So now we have an article about jargon about shop-talk when dealing with clients.


It’s the guaranteed path to an expectation you won’t be able to meet. Maybe your company (like mine) could use a dictionary page; A sort of cheat-sheet that publicly defines ‘terms of art’ as you use them. You could attach some diagrams if you need to, and then, when Sellie meets a customer, they hand over a copy.

Problem solved.

I’m planning mine. I’ll probably have a whole page on the website devoted to it, too.  And if you read my last column, you’ll know why that stuns two hippie protesters with one Taser. It’ll be a webpage organically crammed with keywords (for SEO’s sake) while promoting clarity of communication between the customers and us.

And Google PR eats that up. So will your customers.

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David Sneed

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

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