Spring 2004           Issue One


Spring is just around the corner, and it's time to start thinking about getting your house and gardens in shape for the season....

Communication is the key!

by Mike Cassidy

After almost two decades of operating a successful service business and dealing with literally thousands of people, I have learned, sometimes the hard way, a few key elements that have lead to consistent customer satisfaction and success.

Proper communication skills are paramount to providing good service and leaving a customer satisfied. Leave nothing to chance, spell everything out in plain English and make sure everybody’s expectations are within acceptable and reasonable levels. There is nothing worse than having somebody say something like I thought you were going to do this or I didn’t think it was going to come out like this or I never said that!

Any contractor that has failed to properly communicate exactly what is to be done increases their chances of conflict and problems. Customers must communicate and discuss job expectations prior to the initiation of any work. Assuming something and not having a clear understanding will lead to turmoil after the fact.

This is true for BOTH sides. If it is not in black and white or was never discussed than bring it up or there may be a potential problem. If everything is spelled out clearly and both sides have an understanding of what to expect than you have a better probability of being satisfied.

This is really applicable in just about any situation; business or otherwise involving two or more parties trying to achieve a common goal. Think back to situations in your own life where you’ve run into conflict. Chances are improper communication was a major contributing factor.

People receiving the service can be victims of companies with poor communication skills. People who run companies are humans and not everyone who operates a business has solid written and verbal communication skills. Conflict can develop if either side is deficient in properly communicating. Many times contractors know what they are going to do in their minds and just assume you know too. They don’t spell it out prior.

Well, your expectation is far different and after the job you are let down. Many times contractors will make unrealistic claims assuming you know it’s just salesmanship and your expectations are raised to unrealistic levels only to be let down after the job.

Before any work is initiated make sure you have a thorough understanding of material to be used, the expected outcome, potential pitfalls or problems. Ask until you are satisfied there is a mutual understanding. It is always harder after the fact. Know what to expect and what not to expect.

This will not totally eliminate your problems and conflicts but it will help. It helps to follow up verbal discussions where agreements are discussed with a written summary of what was discussed. Many times people fail to properly “hear what we have to say”, maybe they are preoccupied, tired, or distracted. Being able to actually read what was discussed clarifies key points that may have lead to a potential conflict.




The first question a new residential customer asks is: “What do I have to do to prepare for the job?” The following is a list of TO-DOS recommended to make the jobsite safer, increase job productivity and to insure the highest quality outcome obtainable:

1. All windows must be closed tightly.

2. Vehicles removed from work area.

3. Clothing removed from clotheslines.

4. Work area free of obstructions-foundation area, things against house, and stuff on deck(exception are gas grills). Easier access allows for better and safer cleaning.

5. At least one exterior garden faucet somewhere on property must be live.

6. No pets should be left tied close to work area.

7. Children must not be allowed in general work area or left outside unsupervised during cleaning process.

8. Try not to schedule other contract work or deliveries for same time as cleaning.

9. If somebody is home and needs to exit, make sure to look before opening a door and signal crew prior to exiting. Clothing may be damaged or bleached by inadvertently walking through an area being cleaned.

10. If possible avoid watering lawns, doing laundry or showering during cleaning process.

11. It is all right to watch the cleaning process as long as you remain out of the general work area, away from the power hose and downwind.

12. Avoid applying plant or grass seed (in close proximity to areas to be cleaned) until after cleaning process.

13. If you are aware of any potential possible leakage problems make sure to make us aware prior to initiation of the cleaning process.

14. If anybody that resides or stays in your home has acute respiratory problems, asthma or has extreme sensitivity to cleaning products, we highly recommend they not stay in the residence during the cleaning process. Please discuss prior to initiation of job.

15. If you have a well or poor water flow please inform us prior to initiation of the cleaning job.

16. If you use an extermination company. Try to schedule exterior extermination treatments after cleaning process rather than right before cleaning process. Contact your exterminator to consult.

17. Any vehicles that need to be utilized by property owner during cleaning process should be removed from garages and/or driveways PRIOR to scheduled cleaning appointment.

18. If you are outside or go outside during cleaning process do not come around a corner tight as you could be sprayed accidentally.

19. Try to make all people in household or expected visitors aware of this list, especially safety issues.

20. If you are outside during cleaning process do not stand over or near “power hose” while cleaning process is being performed. Hoses can burst spewing high-pressure water and/or cleaners. Better to be safe than sorry.

21. Please call us at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled appointment to add any additional cleaning so we make sure to allot time and have sufficient cleaners available.

22. If you are unsure of anything or have concerns by all means voice them.












In this issue:

All About Bulbs

Think SPRING! Think BULBS - what to buy, where to plant, and even how to keep them safe from garden pests.



It's the key! Mike shares critical elements you'll need in dealing with any contractor.



How to get the best value from your exterior cleaning - 21 steps to help you prepare for the job.




Answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions - You're sure to find help here. If you don't... just ask!



Tips and Tricks from our experienced Do It Yourselfers



Republished here from Nancy's Weekly Newspaper Column

Quick Fix Tip:

One problem we see on numerous properties is home heating fuel stains under oil fill tubes going into houses. This is caused by careless oil delivery drivers who dribble home heating oil from their hose when filling your tank. Cleaning will lighten these stains but normally not totally remove these stains. Priming with a stain blocker followed by repainting is normally the only remedy. However, even if you clean and repaint the area, the following winter the process will start over when they spill any oil again. If this has not happened yet or after repainting, you may want to try this. Have a piece of Plexiglas or lexan cut approx. 18”x 24”(adjust dimensions to suit your situation) and drill a hole with a hole saw big enough to slip comfortably over oil fill spout. Pre-drill holes so you can attach to your siding with screws. Do not over tighten or try to drive screws without pre-drilling as you may crack material. Once installed this will act as a sort of bib to protect your siding adjacent to fill tube from spills and stains. If Plexiglas starts to get heavily stained, it is easily replaced. If plexiglas is not readily available you could substitute aluminum or even ¼ inch painted plywood.

Quick Fix Tip:

One problem we see on numerous properties is rotted wooden windowsills, especially on gable ends with little or no overhangs. Many times there will be a thin laying of paint covering rotted, moist wood. We suggest periodic inspections to stay on top of this problem. Take an ice pick and poke each sill in areas to see if there is wood rot. Any area that is easily punctured may be a potential problem. If the problem is severe you may have to replace your sill. Minor areas can be chiseled back till you hit solid wood (almost like a dentist drilling a cavity). An inexpensive remedy is to fill the chiseled out area with automotive “bondo” plastic filler. You mix a hardener with the filler and smooth it into place. Work quickly, in small batches as it hardens quickly! Within 5 minutes you can usually sand to achieve a smooth paint able surface. This product is much cheaper than wood putty or wood filler products. Once you sand it is paint ready. We have utilized this process many times where tearing out and replacing a sill or complete window isn't practical. This prevents further damage from water damage.