Tips for Maximizing Field Inspections

by WOHe

As a rep, I visit job sites for various reasons. Some dealers
enjoy showing me their innovative and beautiful projects; a number
of them like to share design and construction suggestions. Still
others need my assistance in making a field inspection.

Field inspections are often the result of unresolved matters
involving quality and installation issues. From time to time, a
dealer will need to request a field inspection by the rep to help
facilitate a resolution to the consumer’s concerns. The goal of the
field inspection is to end up with a completed job and a happy
customer. Better understanding the rep’s role in this will help
make possible this desired result.

When that job comes along and you need to call in the rep, I
have a few pre-visit suggestions.

First, fully inform your rep of the situation. Give him or her
as much detail as possible before the visit to the job takes place.
This is important because it allows the rep to research the issues
and walk in already knowing options and solutions. Tell the rep
everything from how the customers were to work with to how much
money they still owe you. Your rep wants to know the issues and the
type of personalities that he or she is dealing with. If you and
the rep can visit a job prepared, you can resolve the issues
quickly and confidently and impart a professional experience to the
customer.

If one of my customers tells me that the drawers are binding
when opened and closed, as a rep, I know to check out the drawer
issue with the factory prior to the visit. If the drawers are
binding, chances are that when I call into the factory, they will
have already seen a similar occurrence and have a ready solution.
If it’s a new issue, it gives the manufacturer time to research it
and advise me as to what path we’ll need to follow in trying to
find a solution. It’s important to show up prepared.

Another suggestion, as a “to do” before the field inspection, is
to have already ordered the small replacements, touch-ups and
missing items for the job. When the visit occurs, it instills
confidence in your customers that you’re able to tell them that A,
B and C are on their way, and that everyone is working to resolve
the remaining issues. Be organized and have solutions to the minor
concerns.

Four tenets
Once the pre-visit goals are accomplished, I believe that a rep
should focus on four tenets. They are as follows:

1. Never come between the dealer and the customer. When asked to
visit a job site, a rep should only do so if someone representing
the dealer accompanies him or her. The rep wants the dealer
representative to see and hear everything that is discussed to
ensure that everyone is working with the same information.

This tenet includes not only job site visits but phone calls and
e-mail communications with the consumer. Consumers are sometimes
looking for answers different than the ones supplied by the dealer,
and will want to speak directly with the rep. As a rep, I do my
best to avoid this. It’s important for the dealer to hear
everything that the rep says to the customer so that there are no
misunderstandings.

2. Remember that the rep is there to represent the manufacturer.
When a rep visits a job site, his or her focus is on the rep’s
product and whether or not it conforms to the manufacturer’s
standards. If a customer is concerned about warped doors, the rep
will show up with a level.

He or she will look for shims and see if it was installed
properly. If the complaint is cabinets out of square, the rep will
walk in the door with a square in hand. He or she will be prepared
to find and report quality issues that are genuinely attributable
to the manufacturer.

The rep should report issues small and large that concern his or
her product, but if the complaints are based on other products or
poor installation, it’s the rep’s responsibility to report that as
well, and to fairly represent the manufacturer.

3. The rep is not carrying a checkbook. There are many times
that a rep walks into the job site and can immediately see that the
consumer is thinking that the rep is carrying the checkbook of a
mega corporation in his or her back pocket. The consumer points out
every perceived imperfection in the kitchen, thinking the rep is
going to write a check for each one.

That is not what the rep is there for.

The rep is there to record what he or she observes in the
kitchen. If quality issues are
identified that are attributable to the manufacturer, the rep
should work to resolve the situation by making the product right.
There’s good reason for this: It’s much more beneficial to the
manufac- turer to have a satisfied customer than it is to have the
customer live with a cabinet that he or she is not happy with, but
has received a credit for.

4. We are all on the same team. When I visit the site, as a rep,
I consider the dealer, the installer and the contractor to be my
teammates. We all want the issues resolved, and we all want to get
paid. It’s important for the dealer to remind installers and
contractors of this as well.

I have been in situations where I’ve walked in with the dealer
and found the installer or contractor inadvertently work- ing
against us. If we aren’t all working on the same team, it makes it
much more difficult to find a happy resolution to problems.
Additionally, the longer the job drags out, the longer all involved
have to go before being paid. Everyone wants the customer to be
happy, and to complete the job and get paid. It is in everyone’s
interests to work together and be good teammates.

Unresolved matters involving quality issues and other concerns
precipitate the need for a field inspection by the rep. Sharing as
much information as possible, better understanding your rep’s role
and working as teammates will go a long way toward completing that
job and ending up with a happy customer.

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