Stories from the Field – Insights, Innovation and Inanity from Carpet Professionals - Story #1: Installer Seams to VanishI recently asked the carpet installers, inspectors and cleaners on the CRI LinkedIn group to share stories of their most unusual or outlandish customer requests, and I thought I’d share some of their funny responses here on the CRI Blog. The first story comes from Don Barrett, a professional sales trainer and communicator with long-standing ties to the carpet industry. He shares this story from his early years as a carpet installer working for his father.
A lot of years ago when the earth was still cooling, I was a right good installer for a young fellow.
My dad used to handpick the install crews and match them with the customers. I usually got the fussy customers and the fancy custom stair installs, but Dad never seemed to think it was worth paying me extra…he only said something about building character and paying him back for teaching me those skills.
This particular morning, we would be working for a notoriously cranky university professor’s wife who had brought two sales people to tears before the order was ever written.
When we arrived, she read us the riot act and warned us about her expectations for exact seam placements. She told us not to touch her things, use her bathroom – oh, and why wasn’t a more experienced crew sent? She warned us that she would be watching our every move all day except for an errand she would be running between 11-11:30 am.
I had always been taught that, “A soft word turns away anger,” so on this morning I was all smiles and “yes ma’am and no ma’am” to her. The first thing she did was tell us to install the carpet in the wrong direction for the lighting. I didn’t argue – just called the store to cover my butt and then we did as she asked.
I told my crew to follow my lead and be very quiet. We rough-cut everything and were ready to run the seams at about 10 am, but I tinkered and stalled until she announced that she was leaving and would return in 30 minutes.
When the car door slammed at 10:59 we jumped into high gear and ran one of the best seams we’d ever done. As an afterthought, I moved over about three feet from the real seam and, using a screwdriver, traced a light straight line in the carpet nap exactly parallel to the seam. Then we lit into high gear to get the seamed half of the room trimmed, stretched & tucked so she couldn’t see the ends of the seam. All done in great time before she came back.
As predictable as rain in spring, she hit the floor looking for the seam like a bloodhound on a trail. Pretty soon she started pacing up and down that traced line in the carpet and swearing she was going to cause the end of time unless we could do better. I stepped over to her and asked what her concern was. Indignant, she retorted that I must be blind if I couldn’t see that horrible, glaring seam line. That’s when I reached down and brushed the line away with my hand. She was speechless for half a minute before demanding to know where the real seam was. I smiled and said, “If you can’t find it, I’m sure not going to show it to you,” and went back to work.
Thanks, Don! Sound familiar, anyone? If you have a story to share, send it to me at Brichmond@carpet-rug.org or post it on the CRI LinkedIn group.