Thursday, November 10, 2016

"When A Person's Word Was Sufficient For What Would Be Done"

There was a time, not all that long ago, when written contracts weren't necessary between honorable people. A handshake cemented agreements between vendor and customer. People did what they said - on both ends of the deal.

When we bought a product we expected it to work. When it didn't, our recourse was simple. We simply went back to the person who sold it to us and they took care of it for us. If we broke something because we used it incorrectly, we didn't blame the product or expect it to be replaced.


Consider how far we have come from that. Now, everything needs to be spelled out in writing. We do that to protect ourselves from undue liability and because if it isn't specifically mentioned in the contract, the warranty, or the terms of service it isn't covered.

There are two other aspects of keeping our word that are important also. One is honoring commitments. When we say we'll call back at a certain time or on a certain day, we do it. If we tell people that we will have a proposal ready for them on a certain day at a specific time, we must deliver. This is especially true for remodeling because there are so many people running their businesses in a less reliable manner.


When we honor commitments, people learn to expect it from us. It's called dependable, and people respect dependability. We get to be known for doing what we say or what we promise to do. That helps people have confidence in us.

That leads to the second point, which is helping to establish confidence and trust. As aging-in-place professionals - especially as we are working in people's home - they need to appreciate that we will honor their homes and their persons. They can't be fearful of the renovation process, the people who will be in their homes for the renovations, or for their personal safety.

The trust and confidence that we work to create and instill in our clients and potential clients will separate us from others in the marketplace who are less reliable and don't give people the same type of appreciation that they will be fine during the remodeling process.

People have a lot at stake when they undertake a remodeling venture with us. They are allowing strangers into their home. They will have met us and gotten to know us a little bit before the work commences. They won't have met the trade contractors we will be using and will be relying on us to vouch for the character of those strangers who will be in their homes doing the renovation work.

People have valuables in their home - artwork, collectibles, mementos, cash, furnishings, and other personal property. They may have pets also. They certainly have some emotional attachments, memories, and sentiment attached to the rooms as they are before we start demolition. The physical change that occurs - while they agreed to it - may be a radical change from what they had.

They need to trust that what we recommend to them and guide them through is in their best interests.

Keeping our word and doing what we say may be old-fashioned, but it will help people relate to us and earn their trust, confidence, and respect.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C.E.A.C., MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.