How many times have you found yourself in the middle of a DIY project and ran into an issue that brings the entire project to a screeching halt? I know I have been there a thousand times and am confident that I am not alone.
On average, my company fields 2-3 calls per week with similar individuals that have started sanding or installing their own hardwood floors and have encountered an unforeseen circumstance. So many times, people have the misconception that sanding a hardwood floor is simply. “Sanding the floor with a piece of sandpaper.” Likewise, “Installing a hardwood floor is just putting a puzzle together.” Folks, I’ve got news for you… I have been a hardwood floor tech for nearly a decade and run into something new on almost every job. So many times I have thought to myself, “I wish there was someone I could talk to right now that could help me out with this.”
About a year ago, I was sitting in one of our logistics meetings, in the office, and had that thought about a custom border installation we were having trouble with. Luckily, I have a phone list on my desk of other professional flooring techs that I occasionally consult and rang one of them. After discussing the issue and coming to a problem solving consensus, I realized that I had been on the phone for nearly an hour. It is possible that during that hour, on one of our phone lines, I could have cost our company thousands of dollars in missed calls. No to mention, long distance to CA…
I remember thinking that there had to be a better way for contractors and trade services to access a quick problem solving network to help with their issues; Especially the professional contractor that invests a lot of money in time. As some time went by without putting much more thought into it, I noticed an increase in DIY’ers contacting our office with the hopes that we might give them some insight with their dilemmas as well. As I have always made an effort to answer any questions that come into our office, it is sometimes difficult to respond to these requests in a timely manner as I am in the field 75% of the time. Therefore, many times it might be several hours or a couple of days before I could respond to the “freebie” questions. Mind you, I have no problem answering questions (as long as they are not proprietary).
About 6 months ago, I received an email from a gentleman in Memphis, TN who had gotten our email address from www.refinedhardwood.com . In his initial email, the gentleman, whom we will call “John”, asked the question, “how do I know what grit of sandpaper to start with on my floor.” Now, about a month prior to receiving this email, my company had transitioned all of our company cell phones to Sprint ® Black Berries. Therefore, we now received all of our emails on our phones, with “John’s” being one of them. I was able to answer his initial question and a series of follow up questions right there in the field, almost immediately. Of course, the light bulb was burning me!
Over the next couple of months, I spent some time researching several different options to facilitate an online chat for anyone in the world to use, in real time. After experimenting with a few servers, my company decided on “Google Chat ®”. With this chat function, anyone who visits www.refinedhardwood.com can click the link on our contact page for “Google Chat ®” and chat with one of us in real time. Enquirers can ask questions, opinions or whatever else is on their mind. Basically, it has turned into a very efficient Q&A forum that is also private. Privacy was important to us because I know that it can sometimes be a little embarrassing to ask a “stupid” question in a public forum. Of course I contend, the only stupid question, is the one not asked. Why risk thousands of dollars in potential floor damage because of a “stupid” question? I question who the “stupid” one might be if pride keeps you from asking…
So to answer the question, “is there anywhere I can get real time answers to my hardwood flooring question/” Yes, there is! Visit www.refinedhardwood.com , go to our contacts page and click on the link for “Google Chat ®”. Send us a message and we will get right back with you. Ask a technical question, ask our opinion on a product or just ask us what we are doing… We love hearing from hardwood folks and DIY’ers from all over the world! Our online chat has taken off faster than we could have ever dreamed and we welcome many more to join us.
In the modern age of communication and technology, there really is no excuse in being inaccessible as a service oriented company. More and more people are turning to the internet for their everyday shopping and information. I know that I have always associated the internet with retail shopping and searching for information that I may be in need of at the time. However, who ever said that the service trades can’t have a web presence? No one ever told me that! Maybe that’s why Refined Hardwood Flooring is now one of the best known hardwood flooring contractors on the net. Coincidence? Maybe; or perhaps consumers are in need of this real time solution. I tend to lean towards the latter.