Serve-ice!

12 Sep

Been forced to do some infrastructure (plumbing + associated civil) work in a residential property, due to the the quality (or the lack of) materials used by the builder a long time ago. One by one, the same activity is being taken up in each of the 400+ apartments in the residential community. Such activities are painful in two ways – cost & time. While the inevitable expense is obviously unplanned, the time taken – at least a week or two – throws day-to-day living, especially for those who live in these apartments, into a tizzy (in 2 bedroom houses, 1 of them would be rendered useless, for example).

While the core activity of breaking the walls, removing the old GI pipes (which are corroded & blocked with calcium deposited from salty ground water), replacing them with PVC pipes, plastering the broken walls & fixing tiles, and replacing any other devices / appliances that are broken or about to break / fail (like taps, commodes, etc), is being done by the maintenance crew in the community itself, we consciously chose to use our own service providers for a few associated fixes. The difference between the two is significant.

The former – service provider within the residential community – offers the service as a package (not based on tasks or time but as a fixed price deal – Rs.xxxxx per bathroom & so on). Property owners don’t have much of a choice, including the replacement tiles fixed by them, which could be quite jarring – especially if you’ve spent a substantial time, effort & amount in hand-picking tiles / designs when the property was constructed. This is no different from a multitude of service providers, whose focus is to sell what they have – products, services, etc – that may meet the imminent needs but not necessarily offer what the customer really wants. These are akin to use-and-throw items that we typically use at the time of an imminent need but may not recall or recommend when a similar or different need arises in future.

The latter are the people with specific skills (carpentry, painting, civil or electrical work, et al) who offer their skills for any kind of need and just charge for the quantum of specialised service offered. These are artisans (not run-of-the-mill fixers) who you seek out time and again and usually offer their service for a generation or two in several families. These are people we trust, consult, discuss ideas with, accept recommendations & let them go about their work knowing fully well they know better about what needs to be done and how. These are the specialists one doesn’t hesitate to recommend to others as well.

One must bargain hard with the former as they’re happy to fleece you, because you’re just one of their many customers. And keep an eye on the progress (& damages, which are collateral). These are providers who serve-ice customers.

Once must pay a bit more than demanded for the latter as they’re keen to satisfy you, because you’re just their only customer, when they work for you. You also save time as there’s no need to oversee what they do. These are solution providers who truly serve customers!

¬@PrakashSwamy

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