Maintaining composure and showing value

I received a call from a frustrated homeowner in Lafayette (East Bay), California, which is where I do most of my work. He said their dishwasher leaked for a while without him noticing anything until the floor started cupping in large areas in the kitchen. His insurance agent brought in his floor contractors to repair the cupped floor and then refinish the rest of the areas to match.


The job called for a dark brown stain and a satin urethane finish, including stair treads. The rooms were not huge, and the lighting was not overwhelming, so it was not such a hard job to do, yet it required a certain amount of skill.

I showed up to our meeting to check out the floor and to offer my recommendation for a remedy. The first thing I noticed was that the contractor severely dished-out the floor with a buffer. I also found edges, corners, and stairs that were butchered by what looked like a grinder (I could see the scratch pattern and recognized that it was not an edger used on the floor).

The difference in height between the highs and lows in the floor gauges was close to 1/8”. The gauges were so deep I wasn’t sure I could refinish the floor. I thought I may have to replace it. The contractor also damaged all of the baseboards and moldings in the home, which would require us to replace all of them as part of the job.

Long story short: I had a wonderful meeting with the homeowners, sent out my bid the next day, and didn’t give it a second thought. One week later, I got a call from the insurance adjuster asking me why my bid was so high and if I could send him a revised quote excluding some items they (the insurance) didn’t cover. I very calmly asked that he contact his clients (the homeowners) and they, in turn, would communicate with me. Plus, I never really got any green light from the homeowners that I was hired. The next thing I knew, he said, “Oh, never mind,” and hung up on me.

Okay, let’s pause for a second. If you know me, you’d know I live by very clear rules. One of them is respect. No matter the circumstances, always maintain class. You hung up on me? Really? Okay. After shaking my head, I went back to my family time of cooking dinner and doing homework with the boys. I emailed my potential client about the call, just so he knew about it. Evidently, he had quite the experience with the adjustor before.

A few weeks went by before the homeowners finally hired me to fix the floor. We showed up on time, removed all the baseboards, reducers, and stair moldings. We roughed up the floor with 60 grit to get it flat. Sanding a little too much off the floor would have meant replacement, so we were careful with that. By the end of the first day, the floor was flat and clean. We spent the next day or so fine-tuning the scratch pattern and preparing the floor for stain. We mixed some dark stains to mute the red in the red oak, let that stain dry for three days, and then finished it with some water based finish.

Thanks to the corner attachment on my Flip edger, we saved a lot of time and back pain scraping those corners flat. The floor was completed on time and “exceeded customer expectations,” I was later told by the owner.

P.S. The owner gave us the left-over white oak bundles they had sitting around. Those bundles were delivered to the original contractor for the repairs. They ended up not doing any repairs, instead sanding the crap out of the cupped areas. Oh!! What?! Did I say white oak bundles? But the floor was red oak. Yes, you got it. And this is why I cost more.

Be cool.

 Avi Hadad


Avi’s Hardwood Floors Inc.

2 thoughts

  1. Hi! We recently a wood floor installation and repair company and I’m really excited to find this magazine! I have complete respect for YOU. Providing over-the-top customer service with respect and clear boundaries can be difficult in situations like these. Thank you for telling your business stories and sharing wisdom for those of us who are newer to the business!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.