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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Help Me Help You: The 80/20 Rule

You’ve likely heard of the “80:20 rule”, also known as the Pareto principle. For example: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers, 80% of the crime coming from 20% of the criminals … and in a remodelling project 80% of the time being spent on 20% of the project.

An exaggeration? Perhaps. But after several weeks of having your kitchen in a state of disarray, contractors walking through your garden and your designer insisting you decide on just one more colour, the time it takes to take care of those little tasks needed to complete your remodel can certainly feel like an eternity.

I understand. You’re at your wit’s end. Why can’t the electrician just install the last cover plate? Why can’t the cabinet installer just come and adjust the doors below the sink? And why on earth is it so difficult to get all cabinet packaging out of your back yard?

The fact is as your designer I am dealing with the same issues … several times over. Yes, from your point of view you are my one and only client. But you’re not. I typically have several clients on the go at the same time. This doesn’t mean that you should have to suffer because I’m busy. What it does mean however is that I have to prioritize and decide how best to allocate the resources I have to the jobs that need doing.

So while that last 20% of your project is of paramount importance to you (and to me too!) the fact is those doors you need adjusted below your sink are just not as important as the cabinet installation that’s taking place on one of my other projects. Notice I didn’t say it wasn't important, just that it wasn't as important. My installer will get to your doors, I promise … just not today.

Here’s a list of some of the best ways I’ve found to help my clients deal with that last 20%.
  1. Keep a list. I communicate with my clients on a regular basis during a project and I ask them to keep a list of things they see that need doing as the project progresses. A lot of that 20% can be addressed while the trades are there the first time. If they can’t then I know they need doing, and they won’t be forgotten the second time.
  2. Do it yourself. I'm not trying to be rude when I say that. But if there’s a box of cover plates on site, and you know one end of a screwdriver from another, have at it! I’m not asking you to hook up your own dishwasher, but I'm pretty sure you can handle taking the cardboard cabinet packaging to the recycling depot.
  3. Ask your designer. Like I said, I'm on the job site frequently. Not only can I adjust cabinet doors, I can show you how to do it for yourself. Imagine how impressed your family will be if they ever need adjusting again!
  4. Be patient. I have your final To-Do list (also known as a “Punch List”) and am working to schedule everything to be done in a quick and efficient manner. So rather than have 3 trades show up on 3 different days, it’s best to have them all show up on a single day. That day might not be today. If you know you have a deadline (e.g. visitors coming to stay) let me know as soon as possible (the beginning of the job for example) and I’ll do my best to accommodate.

This post originally appeared on the FloForm blog on September 15th of 2011.  

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