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  • Mike Scott

Lessons I have learned from my garden wall

It's a phrase that I have heard uttered time and time again, the issue is in this case, I didn't listen. That phrase is, 'Buy cheap, buy twice'.

So, let me explain myself.

I live in an old stone-built house with a 110ft perimeter wall running down the side of it. After moving into the house, my wife and I decided that the driveway, currently occupying the whole bottom half of the garden, had to go. Given that was the only space to get the sun all day (which is a precious commodity in Scotland) the decision was made, block up the hole for the driveway in the wall and deck that area to create a small sun terrace. My plan to save some cash was that I would do all of the garden work myself, all I needed was somebody to build the old stone wall in the gap.

I get myself onto one of the many tradesmen sites to get myself a 'recommended person', get myself 3 quotes and go with the person who is the cheapest. It's at this point alarm bells should have been ringing, he was cheaper by a considerable margin. Still intent with doing the job on the cheap though, I march on regardless.

3 days later (another warning sign, what trade is available that quickly?) he turns up to start work. An unbranded van arrives (warning number 3, who the hell are these guys), 3 guys get out to inspect the job and after a 10 minute look around say they have to head off to pick up the stone. I'm flying down to London later that morning for an overnight trip so I leave them to it and hope that on my return I have a new wall in the gap which blends seamlessly into the older part.

Fast forward 2 days. I return from my work trip to find them 'finishing things off'. I've been left with what could only be described as a pile of stones, none resembling anything of the old wall and to make matters worse, it's not in line or to the height of the rest of it. I head into the house fuming.

30 mins later, there's a knock at the door. 'Alright mate, that's us finished'. I head around to inspect the mess. Enter, massively annoyed me.... The thing is, there's nothing I can do. I've got 3 guys looking for cash for their time, the amount isn't worth the damage that they could do if I don't pay them and I've got very little chance of tracking them down due to lack of company presence if anything does happen. I'm left with no option but to pay up for the mess they leave me with.

Fast forward 2 weeks, I've spent a considerable amount of my own time trying to finish off the wall and make it safe.

The end result, I'm left with a botched job that I need to look at every day, it cost me much more than it should of and I had to invest loads of my own time to try and rectify the job. Short of knocking it all down again, paying a new tradesman and being considerably out of pocket, I'm never going to get the job I wanted in the first place.

Hopefully, you are still reading and I've not bored you to death by now. But I did promise you some lessons for business.

Lesson 1: If it's too cheap, it's not going to be good. There are some things in life that you can get on the cheap but if you are looking for somebody to do a skilled job, one that is likely to affect the look of your house/brand forever more, invest, don't try to save a buck.

Lesson 2: If they are willing to dive straight in without doing some initial review of the job/brand/challenge then they are unlikely to do the job you want. They should have done an initial review, advised me on a price, ordered the stone and got started. Instead they rushed the job through and messed it up. Any job should start with a proper review/discovery phase before you can truly get it right.

Lesson 3: If you don't trust the brand, don't start the job. You need to be confident that the other party isn't going to take your money and run. Meet them face to face. Find out what you can about their business, after all they are likely to be representing you in some fashion and only once you are sure about them, kick the project off.

All too often I receive new business calls saying they have found somebody online willing to do their social media for some crazy amount of money and they ask if I can meet that quote. Quite simply, the answer is pretty much always no. If you want to get a business to invest time to get to know your brand, help you establish the social presence you need and not simply just post up any old content (which you could do yourself) then you need to invest, £200 per month just won't cut it.

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