From time to time we hear stories from customers. Some are funny, some unfortunate, and a few tragic.
Another customer asked for a price for two replacement doors. The customer was in the ‘parking business’ managing a dozen or so high profile high rise buildings ‘down town’. We had been doing all their work for the previous decade and had a good working relationship. Normally they relied on us to recommend repairs, replacements and improvements. This time they came to me with a specification for a very expensive alternative to anything they had been using previously. The product choice was a good one but the cost was such the existing doors could be replaced almost three times for the same money. I found out later a consultant had brought them some ideas on automating the ticket process and included the door changes.
There wasn’t much of a specification just the Make and Model number – we did our own measuring and layout of interfaces as part of our bid. My contact – the president of the parking company – also mentioned the new doors would be ‘high speed’. I knew this brand had a ‘standard speed’ power unit and another power unit that operated about ‘twice as fast’ as their ‘standard speed’ unit. However their ‘faster speed’ unit was way slower than the ‘industry standard’ for ‘high speed’ doors by about half. The second power unit was significantly more expensive than their standard speed unit as well. I tried to convey the nuances of the speed offerings and the industry standards, but was told the other bidder (affiliated to the consultant) was bidding ‘high speed’ doors.
My bid was around $98,000.00 for two doors and I included the specified brand’s ‘faster power unit’. I was told I lost the job being about $5000.00 higher. It was disappointing but I didn’t have a close relationship to the specified manufacturer and figured I didn’t get their best price.
About six months later my contact – the president of the parking company – called me to the job with concerns. The installation was adequate but sloppy especially the control mounting and electrical wiring. But the main problem was the speed. One of the primary reasons for this product selection was the ‘high speed’ promise and these new doors were ‘standard speed’ doors. I had quoted the better, faster power units this brand offered thus my higher bid. Retrofitting the faster power units now was cost prohibitive – about another twenty thousand dollars! I advised the parking company president to go back to the low bidder and demand the correct unit. He had already and they told him the new doors were faster than his old doors although not by much. Since there was no actual specified speed they had fulfilled the requirement. I didn’t bring up the fact that I had tried to clarify this issue before bidding, but I did confirm ‘in writing’ that my bid included the specified brand’s faster option which would have been twice as fast as what they ended up with.
Getting a customer’s attention can be very difficult – most don’t want to take the time or feel the salesman is trying to rig the game. We have been servicing these two slow ‘high speed’ doors for the last fifteen years.