At the Intersection of Friendship and Professionalism
As a small business owner, I believe it is important to support other small business owners, especially when we are friends. Sometimes that poses a challenge, which is why we are often cautioned against doing business with family or friends. When all goes well, it’s wonderful, but when it goes bad, it can strain or even destroy the relationship.
We’ve been doing some home improvements this year; so far, new windows, a new roof, and in between them gutters and soffits wearing 15 years of dirt and grime. Although cleaning the eyesore was a DIY-able project, we decided we’d rather focus on other projects and let someone else tackle this one.
A friend who owns a property maintenance company responded to our plea for help. He came to the house, test cleaned a few spots, then sent us a reasonable estimate we’re quite certain included a “friends” discount. It’s a quick job to help some friends and still make a few bucks doing it, or so he thought.
Things were going perfectly, until they suddenly didn’t. A chemical reaction caused an unintended consequence – bare metal patches on our soffits. This is where this story could have become another cautionary tale…but it didn’t.
“It’s not my fault.”
“It’s not my job.”
“It’s not my problem.”
“I was just trying to do you favor.”
Our friend could have said any of these things…but he didn’t.
Even though he wasn’t responsible, he took responsibility. As soon as he saw the problem, he stopped working, asked me to come look, explained what happened. We discussed options and came up with an action plan that, in the end, gave us the result we originally desired. What should have been a 4-hour project turned into two days – far more than any of us bargained for – but neither his friendship nor his professionalism would allow him to walk away from a problem.
This isn’t the first time our friend has gone above and beyond for us, but it is the first time we’ve done business together. This turn of events helped us realize that the characteristics that make him a good friend also make him a good business person. Clear, honest communication and concern for us met rapid problem solving, attention to detail, and perseverance.
We are still friends and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to hire him again or recommend him to others. I wish all of my service providers were just as conscientious.
Sometimes life and business present you with what seems like a crossroad where you must choose one or the other, but it is merely an intersection in a pleasant little gem of a neighborhood where seemingly opposing concepts coexist.