When she smiles, I melt. When she is down, I melt. When she hugs me, I melt. I either need a backbone, or I’m like every other father of an 8-year-old daughter.
Yet weekdays are hectic. I have work, she has school. We both come home each day to a list of things that need to get done — homework, taking care of the dog and cat, flute practice, helping with dinner, making lunches — so finding “quality time” together is precious.
That’s why my wife and I hold certain times sacred for our family. When we first get home, we crave the big hug and smile, and try to return them in kind no matter how difficult or stressful our day has been. Dinner is a time to turn off all electronic gadgets and catch up with one another. Bedtime is a warm kiss and closure for the day. Not every day is so idyllic but we still reserve these key moments to focus on being a family.
Dealing with our clients or team members is not so different. Our daily interactions with others are strained by the pressures of life — pressures on time and emotions; pressures from others and from ourselves. Count me in that group that struggles to find that utopia where our lives are balanced, healthy, and happy.
One way to cope is to make some of the countless “touch points” with clients and team members more important and more memorable than others. We might have 150 touch points with a client during the course of a remodel, from design, estimating, and contracts, through production and completion.
But some of these touch points are more critical than others. We have found that, like a good story, each project has a beginning, a middle, and an end; three “moments” that are paramount. Of course, we strive to do everything with integrity and excellence, but if we mess up those three moments, we don’t pass Go. The middle moment can be trickiest — marked by relief as, say, the drywall goes up, or by tension if something has gone wrong. Either way, it’s a critical moment that deserves special attention.
If you’re a perfectionist, you are trembling at this point. The idea that some interactions should be treated with a higher degree of attention than others may not compute. Don’t misunderstand: I am not suggesting that professionalism does not apply to every interaction. But I am suggesting that we are only human, living in a world of limited resources. We can make every touch point the same, or we can make some into a “Wow.”
The quantity of time I spend with my daughter is important, but the quality of the time we spend together is what will last in my heart and memory.
—Bruce Case is president of Case Design/Remodeling, in Bethesda, Md. firstname.lastname@example.org.