Setting Expectations and New Carpet

We have been doing upgrades to our house recently and on a recent morning over coffee I told my wife how funny I thought it would be if we hired a crew to come install carpet in our bedroom but did not move all the furniture out first. And evil thought, yes, imagining the carpet installers walking in eager to pull up the old carpet, lay down the new carpet and be done by noon. But instead they walk in and see a huge canopy bed, end tables, book shelves, a chest of drawers and a TV stand. Surely their first reaction would be, “Ok, so let us know when all of this is moved out and we will be back.” There is no way they would volunteer to move all of the furniture and then do the work we actually hired them for, right? Would they go above and beyond in this case? This crazy thought about the carpets (no we did not actually do this to anyone) led me to recall a situation in my past where I was hired to travel to a client site and install and configure a domain, Exchange Server, SQL Server and Terminal Services. My expectation was I would walk into their server room at around 9 AM, grab the install media and get down to work installing software on their new Windows servers, all 4 of them. I would be done by noon and spend the rest of the day walking the customer through creating email accounts and provisioning applications to access SQL Server databases. What happened was I walked into their server room and saw an empty rack and 4 unboxed servers sitting against the wall. Their expectation was I would be racking and stacking and installing the base OS, configuring the network and THEN moving to install my beloved Microsoft products. My first thought was, “OK, call me when you get these servers racked up and talking to each other.” Their first thought was “We will see you in a few hours. Good Luck!” I took off my jacket, cracked my knuckles and got busy unpacking servers, plugging in cables and monitors, keyboards and KVMs. The Windows installs went surprisingly smooth and I automated as much as I could but it still took the better part of a full day to get everything completed. At around 4PM I informed the customer that they were ready to start creating email accounts. They were happy and I was satisfied that things went smoothly, but I was still a little upset that we had not discussed the expectations more thoroughly before I arrived. The last point there is really the main point of this post: you can’t complain about the work if you have not set the right expectations up front. In the case of the carpet installers it turns out they charge extra for each piece of furniture they have to move and they make sure to have that discussion long before they arrive. The same is true for almost any profession. In my case it would have been better if I would have taken a play from home cleaning services and just said to the customer upfront “I don’t do Windows.”