The Inspired Insider

Weekly Newsletter | 08/08 - 08/14

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Employee Spotlight!

Shout Out of the Week:


Erica Yaffe, Field Ops Specialist
"Welcome, Erica Yaffe to the Field Operations team in Raleigh! Erica has been an awesome installer in our Charlotte, NC market for the past three years and she recently came on board full-time in our Raleigh, NC office as a Field Ops Specialist. She will be helping the Field team with all things Training, Travel and Onboarding related. Welcome to the home office team, Erica!"
Lisa Orlando, Director of Field Operations


How to Stay Motivated, Using Psychology

Inspired Call Summary




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Inspired Call Summary:
Hello Everyone! Welcome to the weekly inspired call. Today is Tuesday, August 10, 2021, and you have me again, Lisa Orlando, Director of Field Operations, for the third week in a row! 


Today I want to discuss our role and expectations as installers when it comes to dealing with errors from TCS, specifically when it comes to talking to customers about designs or design errors. Unfortunately, we have been presented with a lot of information from TCS over the past several weeks that installers are throwing TCS under the preverbal bus. This isn’t just coming out of one market, it’s across the board.


But backing up just a little bit… What you do is hard work. You guys work hard physically each day, and everyone here at Penmarc, Everyone at TCS, and the installation customer appreciate your hard work. But, everyone at Penmarc and all of our 1099s and subcontractors need to understand that The Container Store is our customer. We are a service provider to TCS and the homes we enter are their customers, no ours.


Our job is to arrive at a job site where the product meets us there – we didn’t have to figure how to get the product there, and only sometimes do we have to unload and bring the product inside. TCS is the one ensuring product availability and transportation. 


Then we get to read a design that’s been done for us – we didn’t have to sit with the customer for hours going over preferences, questions, and scheduling. TCS is the one putting in the software, training, staffing, and execution of closet designs. 
We get to use our body and minds to assemble a prefabricated material into a closet – we didn’t have to source materials or make it in our shop, and yeah, we may have to make cuts to help craft into the space, but TCS has to work with manufacturers, sour materials, deal with warehousing and shipping. They deal with engineering and logistics. 


All and all, we have a narrow role in the overall process. We install
I say this because we need to understand what our role is in the process, and we need to have a sympathetic understanding that selling and designing a closet in a space that you’ve never seen in person is hard work too. 


But even if you think the designers are the ones who have it easy, then at the very least, you need to understand that you cannot bite the hand that feeds you and expect that hand to want to or continue feeding you. The Container Store is our client, and if we say negative things about designers or if we overshare design advice, it degrades your brand reputation, Penmarc’s brand reputation, and The Container Store’s brand reputation. That’s called a lose, lose, lose situation. No gets repeat customers or satisfied clients or customers. 


The Container Store is churring out hundreds of designs a day. Are there some bad designs in there? Yes. I’m not excusing that some designs are poorly executed and that it may cause issues or even make you have to work harder. But our conversations with the installation customer should never include negative language about TCS, the design, or the designers themselves. Focus on controlling what you can control – stay in your lane and be professional and we all win. 
So let’s do a little role-playing here to give you some conversation tools with customers:


Situation: You’re reviewing the design and pulling measurements before you install. You notice that one wall is longer than what’s represented on the design, and you know that there will be a gap that could allow for additional hang or shelf space. 
Response: First, this may not be a bad design, but rather customer-provided measurements that were incorrect, or the customer has an unknown preference. If the customer is present, you should call them into the space and express your observation: 


Ms. Jones, when pre-measuring the space I noticed that you may have additional space on this portion of the wall. Was this your intention or is it possible the measurements the designer had to work with were an estimate?” (notice that we do not directing blame anywhere. We are leaving options open rather than jumping to conclusions). 


If the customer says, “I gave the designer the same measurements you have! They messed it up!” Or even, “I’m not sure, but if there’s additional space, I’d like to use it.” 
If the customer is immediately placing blame, they are likely defecting because maybe they did mess up but didn’t want to take responsibility or are embarrassed. You goals is to not going to feed that fire.


You should respond in a professional manner…
This is an easy fix Ms. Jones. Let me connect with our partners at TCS and give them an update measurement. You can then consult with them on what you would like to so with the additional space, and we may even have time to pick up any additional product needed now so that we can complete your installation today.” 


Avoid commiserating with the customer or adding fuel to spark a fiery escalation. 
In the case that it isn’t an easy fix, that’s okay folks, because we all know there’s a fix to 99.9% of every installation issue out there! So move the conversation towards the solution, because that’s all the customer really cares about. No one needs to be a hero either, if you are unsure, just say, “I know we’ve hit this snag, but I’m going to partner with TCS right away, and we will find a solution.” 


Put the customer at ease, and head towards the solution, and then partner with TCS Installation Services or your market manager. 
Anecdotally, most design errors have to do with Measurements and in many cases we play a role in that process. This is why the Measure and ISV documents are so vital to the process. I have given a few calls on why measurement and ISV accuracy are vital, but related to this topic, we need to steer clear of offering design suggestions when customers are present for the Measurements. 


There are three common things that come up on measurements:
  • Customer starts telling you all the things they want to do with their space putting you in the position to give advice or tips.
  • Additional services such as additional demo and paint are misrepresented to the customer by you or TCS. 
  • For Avera and Laren ISVs, customers may ask for your advice on electrical movements 


Your response to the customer 95% of the time should be, “This site visit will allow your designer to better envision the space, allowing you to discuss those options with your designer in more detail. I will make a note of your questions and preferences on my forms as well so they can start thinking about this ahead of your next conversation.” 


You don’t have to be a robot about it, you can phrase this in a way that feels comfortable to you, but you need to politely tell the customer that you hear them, your acknowledging their concerns and questions, and moving them to the person that can help them make those decisions. 


You can place any one of these situations ahead of this – 


The customer is telling you all about what they envision… “I’ve installed a lot of spaces and agree that Elfa/Laren/Avera is a great system that allows for so many options! But my job is to install what you and your designer envision. This site visit will allow your designer to better visualize the space, allowing you to discuss those options with your designer in more detail. I will make a note of your questions and preferences on my forms as well so they can start thinking about this ahead of your next conversation.


The customer has heavily textured walls and two built-ins… “Your current space has some elements that fall outside the normal installation scope of work; however, this site visit will allow your designer to better visualize the space and review any additional services and the costs so that you can make the decision that is best for you.” - we don’t want to get into saying what things cost and what YOU can or cannot do. Maybe you can’t handle the demo, but maybe we have another installer who can.
The customer has an electrical outlet that interferes with the system placemen and the customer asks you what to do… “Based on the designs in hand, you’ll need to discuss this electrical placement with your TCS designer. This site visit will allow your designer to adjust your design accurately, allowing you to discuss placement options with your designer in more detail. I will make a note of your questions and preferences on my forms as well so they can start thinking about this ahead of your next conversation.” 
The point of all of these responses is to get out of the advice and decision-making game. This is TCS’s customer and their designs. 
When you call TCS installations services for installation issues and you have ideas on how to adjust a design to make it work better, you can certainly do that in a polite and professional way. We know you guys have good ideas, and there are avenues to express those with us here at Penmarc or to TCSIS. But avoid putting the cart ahead of the horse with the Installation customer. 
I know this was a longer talk than usual and I appreciate those of you who made it to the end of the call. This is a job where you’re working alone a lot of the time, but don’t forget there is a big team of people here to support you at both Penmarc and The Container Store. We are all in this together. 


Do the best you can every day – Have a great week – Stay Safe.




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