Our basement project has turned out to engulf us a little more than we thought, but doesn't that always happen? We have a pretty bad leak that we needed to fix before we started painting. The house was built in 1924, so there is no sump pump. Basically there is drain tile along the house that drains the water into the storm drains. Any water that gets into the house is supposed to drain down the floor drains. As you can expect with an old house and the settling, we have water issues. Surprisingly not as bad as we would think. If it rains we get water coming from one corner of the house. If it rains for a couple days straight, then another corner will start to leak. If we get a huge rain, which only happened once, well then it pours through the walls. Again that only happened once and the street in front of our house actually turned into a small river which I had never seen before. So basically we were concerned with the first leak and fixing that. We would have loved to finish the basement, but after seeing what happens with a really bad storm, it would be too much to fix.
We only have a couple of options. We could either cut out part of the basement and install a sump pump which requires a lot of cutting and stone. Another option is to try and fix the crack, make sure all the down spouts are far from the home and even digging up some dirt to install plastic liners to make the water drain away. With either option there is no guarantee. One big problem is the amount of clay around the house. Clay doesn't hold water, so it just channels to the basement. We decided to just fix the first crack and leave it alone. The basement is old and has a low ceiling, so even if we wanted to finish the basement, it wouldn't look right.
We decided to look around our town and see what options we had to fix this leak. After searching around I found a company called Dura Shield. Basically what they do is drill holes into the concrete and pump in expoxy to help seal the cracks. Well I know how well epoxy works so I figured why not. We picked up the phone and called them. I did talk with a couple other companies, but after researching Dura Shield's process and their product, I knew I wanted to go this route.
After talking with them on the phone and setting up an appointment, this is where things turned and went downhill. After my bad experience with Dura Shield, we decided to write this article geared towards the business owner and use Dura Sheild as an example of what not to do. We listed a couple examples below. We actually had more problems with Dura Sheild, but it really doesn't fit into this article.
Listen to your customer
Never tell a customer what they want. Always listen to your customer. Find a need and fix it. Yes, it is that simple. Most people don't take time to listen to their customers, they just start talking and try to tell them why they are the best. As an example the owner from Dura Shield came into the house and just started rattling off things about his company. He then asked where the leaks where. I tried to tell him where the leaks where coming from, but he didn't really want to listen. He told me to hook up a hose, put it outside by where the wall leaks. Well the wall started leaking, but not in all the areas. As soon as it started leaking, he had me move the hose. He didn't take time to listen that it leaks lower and if we wait a little we would start to see water come in. I know this should have been my first red flag. Well this turned out to be a problem down the road. They fixed the main spot where it leaked, but never touched the other area. As you guessed, the next rain fall most of the water did stop, but the water came in where I was trying to tell him that it leaked. In the end they had to come out and try to fix it again. As of today it still leaks. This is a prime example where you want to listen to the customer. By him just listening, he could have saved a trip back out to my house. Even the second time he really just wanted to fix the leak and not listen to what happens. On the second trip the worker hooked up the hose and the water started coming in at the foundation line where the foundation meets the brick. He told me that it was a grading problem. I tried to tell him I never get water there except for this time when I had a hose directly on that part of the house. I tried to tell him I don't water my house, so I would never have the water hitting the house like this. Remember listen to your customer and you can learn and save a lot of time.
Have a worker you can trust
If you have owned a business you know how hard it is to have good worker. Having a good worker is gold. The worker from Dura Shield was very unfriendly the first time and outright rude the second time. In fact he was trying to tell me the leak was not their problem because it was leaking through the brick. I tried to explain that is not what I was complaining about. I had him wait ten minutes for the water to seep through into the house, which he wasn't happy about. The water finally started coming into the house and was about 2″ from the original repair spot. He informed me that this wasn't part of the original fix when in fact the owner did tell me this whole wall would be fixed. I am not sure if this guy was looking for extra money from me or what the deal was. Either way I wasn't happy how I was treated. In fact the guy wanted to walk away without fixing the problem. This whole thing just made me more ticked off. Now if Dura Sheild had a better worker, he could have defused the situation, handled it correctly and made a happy customer. This is why follow up calls are so important as a business owner.
Return calls in a timely manner
The work on my house was done on Dec 27. It rained the next day and I called them on Dec 28. I didn't get a return call until Jan 6. I understand it is the holidays, but at least get back to your customer in a timely manner. This is huge for business owners and don't fall into this trap. Try to get back to your customers within 24 hours at the most. Most people are impatient and if they don't hear from you, they will either get mad or just go somewhere else. If this means you put the last half hour of the day returning calls, then set it up in your schedule.
Follow up after the service
Still to this day I have never received a call to ask about my opinion, the service or anything. To me it is as if they don't care. They have my money and that's all they care about. As a business owner remember to call your clients after you are done. Ask them how you did. This is your opportunity to improve on your service. Yes there are times the truth hurts, but if you can become better, it is worth it.
Dura Shield is a prime company you do not want to model yourself after. If someone were to ask me who I used or asked for a referral, I would never give it to a friend. Remember that word of mouth is the most important marketing tool. Be true to your customers and they will return the favor to you. Doesn't matter how great your product is. If you don't have customer service to back it up, you will be in an uphill battle. If you put a little customer service in place, you can stand out from the pack. Go that little extra for your clients and you are sure to stand out.
The picture below shows where they fixed a leak in the gray area. As you can see right below the patch, is where it was leaking and they were giving me a hard time about fixing it.