Lessons from Alex

alexI needed to have my garage painted and Alex was referred by a realtor I know.  She texted me that Alex would call later that afternoon to set up a meet to look at the work and give me a price.  He called in about an hour and we met up later that Saturday afternoon.

We agreed on a price and I asked when he could do the work.  (I was expecting a week or so.) When he said, “How about tomorrow morning?”  Incredulously, I said “Sunday?”  He said he had a big job to start on Monday and would be tied up for several days.  I happily agreed.

Alex and his friend showed up exactly on time, moved some things out of the garage that I had forgotten to do and they set about to work.  They chatted away pretty much nonstop and finished much quicker than I expected.  They did a meticulous cleanup job and the garage looked better than I expected.

In a partially-finished basement room, we pulled up the stained carpet a long time ago, but the underpadding, which was glued to the concrete and the tackless remained.  I contacted Alex to see if he might want to remove all that, or knew someone who would.  Once again, he said he’d stop by the next day at 4pm and was right on time.  We agreed on a price and, as before, he asked if he could do the work the next morning, Sunday, at 8am.

8am came and went, but no Alex.  I was concerned, but then at exactly 9am, he arrived with a friend.  We went to the basement and the two set to work.  They carried all the padding rolled and neatly taped to the curb for trash pickup, and all the tackless was brought up in a garbage can.

I asked Alex for one more little bit of help before he left, move a heavy desktop from my office upstairs to the basement.  He gladly obliged.  As we walked out to the driveway, I paid Alex and as I was thanking him, he asked if I had any friends or neighbors that needed a reliable painter or any odd jobs done.

He said the weather is going to get better soon and he does exterior as well as interior painting.  Also, he does garage floor epoxy paint, which is very popular now.  He asked if I was happy with his work, which I certainly was, and asked me to please tell my friends if they need work.


  1. BE PUNCTUAL – Except for one time, when Alex was exactly one hour late, he always called or arrived when he said he would.  Establish trust and credibility by honoring your commitments.  (BTW, he was an hour late because Daylight Savings Time started at 3am this morning.  Apparently, Alex’s alarm clock doesn’t change automatically.)
  2. BE EAGER – By jumping on the job the very next day, I felt Alex was motivated to do the work, which made me feel I would get quality work.  The energy you convey to prospects is received and an indicator of how you will approach their work.
  3. HAVE FUN AT WORK – While neither of these are jobs I would have enjoyed doing, Alex seemed and his friend seemed to have a good time as they worked.  If you enjoy your work, others sense it and gives them a good feeling about having you on the team.
  4. EXCEED EXPECTATIONS – My bad, forgetting to move some large items around, but Alex and his friend didn’t even ask, they just did it.  Plus they left the garage (and basement) cleaner than they were before.  When you exceed a client’s expectations, they want to do MORE business with you.
  5. GIVE A LANGNIAPPE – Moving the desktop wasn’t part of the original deal, but Alex gladly did it for me.  If you clicked on the definition, a langniappe is more than exceeding expectations, it’s like a gratuity for your client.  The first time I was in New Orleans and, after placing our order, the server brought us a langniappe of a few sauteed shrimp, I latched onto this great best practice.
  6. ASK FOR REFERRALS – After 2 successful jobs, demonstrating reliability and throwing me a langniappe, Alex earned the right to ask for referrals.  And, he’ll get some too!

Engligh, by the way, is not Alex’s native language, nor has perfected it yet.  But, between his heavily-accented 70% English and my 10-word Spanish vocabulary, we communicated just fine.  Though his English may not be very strong, his innate business sense and practices are.


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