Mind The Gap! · Modern Times

Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em

What Do You Expect For Such A Price?

This is a common expression used by the Dutch. I’d not heard the expression before I moved here, and it seems to be a good expression where Dutch builders are concerned.

Click the link for a laugh at the Dutch: http://www.toegangtothetspoor.nl/Content/Videos/en-1.webm

Poor Quality From Proud Dutchmen.

Because there’s something about Dutch builders that defies description. Is it that they just don’t care? Is it that they’re bored? Do they just hate their clients? Is it that they get paid irrespective of results? If they underbid someone else – which with the recession has become a pestillence – their quality plummets. Which is beyond me: after all, it’s only by doing a good job that you’re likely to get referrals.

Or am I missing something??

Twenty Years’ Experience?

This is about the effects of poor quality. I mean, how is it that a proud Dutch tradesman with twenty years’ experience can’t read a drawing? Cutting tiles with floor protection but still manages to leave the carpet in ribbons? When asked to cut a length of wood, it comes back a full inch too short?

He flops a slice of plasterboard down on the living room floor and attacks a concrete wall with an angle grinder. He carpeted the livingroom with a thick layer of concrete dust. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he’d put sheeting over the TV. Or the settee. Not to mention the cabinets, fireplace, curtains and everything else. Only the Dutch can work this way, and if you click the link, it’ll take you to a video that shows how comic it can be at times. Well it would be comic if they weren’t trying to be serious. That’s when it’s tragic.

The owner of the house was in tears. I wasn’t much happier either.

There’s a joke by German master carpenters about their new apprentice: “That’s the second time you’ve cut that piece of wood, and the first time it was too short!” This seems to encompass the Dutch tradesman. If you happen to be one and wish to explain why you’re not like this, leave a comment.

Now I may be fifty and female, I can cut a piece of wood so that it passes between the studs and stays there without stretching them. Nor does it slip out. I mean, it’s not exactly that hard, is it? I guess the Dutchman’s excuse is that he forgot the details as soon as he’d taken his exams. So wouldn’t know his arse from his elbow. Leave alone a jack rafter from a noggin.

Which End Does The Bubble Go?

When chatting with friends a few Saturdays ago, the topic of household repairs came up. Not at my instigation either – I avoid the topic at all costs. But the disaster stories quickly followed. Now the difference here isn’t that they happened – they can happen to anyone and most householders have had the occasional accident. I’ve had them, fessed up to them and repaired whatever damage occurred. Nor am I the tidiest of people, and once engrossed in my job I tend to lose the occasional tool here and there.

The difference with the conversation we had, was that it was the last jobs that they’d had done, every tradesman who turned up did more damage than they repaired. One electrician who installed a socket left half the house without power. What’s more, he didn’t even notice.

The guy next door to our party is a builder and in his attempts to refurbish the house has left a few windows intact.

I’ve counted them.

He’s the kind of person who believes in keeping neighbours happy. By using hammer drills at one in the morning so as to keep them awake. I’m not kidding: this guy is beyond repair.

Marketing Your Quality And Your Qualities

The future of your business depends on the quality you provide. Be it well laid flags, secure roofs or neatly finished paint jobs. Sure, accidents happen – but that’s life. Overall, you will be providing sensible, robust quality. And if you’re anything like me, with a healthy level of humour too.

Putting all that together and you have someone who’s advertising should stand out, just by being you. That in itself is enough to get yourself good clients, rather than any old riff-raff who’ll knock you on price. If you’re interested, find out how by signing up for my four part email series that goes into this [no longer available].

Providing quality was what I built my business on. It is the most effective way to establish a good client base. My problem was that by the time the crash happened, my base was too small. That I was far from confident didn’t help either. That has changed, the economic conditions haven’t. I may decide to begin again, but it will be on the basis of a quality that outclasses the Dutch by a good margin – and charged accordingly. If you’d like to see the references I gathered, click here to visit my old site [no longer available]. It’s still in its old form; updating it is my next job.

I’d like to add that the worst part of this job was putting Dutchman’s work right. To say it was unacceptable is putting it mildly. How is it that a Dutchman can shit on his customers and be proud of their trade at the same time?

I will repeat myself: no quality means you’re out of business. Poor work means dissatisfied clients, and dissatisfied clients look elsewhere. Unless they have absolutely no other choice. Is this why Dutch tradesmen aren’t concerned about quality? More likely it’s that they assume there are “more fish in the sea”. And I’ve heard that one too.

One day it will catch up with them.

Are You A Dutch Builder?

If you’re a Dutch builder and you feel differently, leave a comment, but don’t expect me to be kind to you. I’ve had donkeys walking mud across my parquet too. I will add that I have met good tradesmen here – but they are unbelievably slow. They are also rare. So rare that I can’t be bothered to advertise to them. I mean, they are nice people and make great friends and all that…

I just don’t want them in my house, that’s all.

Warning: I can tell the quality of a carpenter by the way he puts down his toolbag. And it’s not enough that a woman’s saying this. Each and every of the above cases is either something I’ve actually seen them fuck up – or one of my friends has suffered. These guys shouldn’t be allowed out of nappies.

19 June 2014

See my post ‘Live Wires‘ and ‘I Admit It: I Made A Mistake‘ for more on this unhappy theme.


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