Client Lessons Learned from Bad Airline Food

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The physical realities of cramming 200+ people into an aluminum can 7 miles above the earth changes travelers’ senses of taste and smell. Even good food can taste, like — airline food.

Yet those airlines need good food (in the eye of the beholder) to seduce those high-paying first class customers into parting with their cash.

So what are the airlines doing about it?

The German airline, Lufthansa, dropped over $6 million to build a mock airplane in a pressure chamber to test how their chefs can change the taste and presentation of food to address passengers’ altered perceptions.

Notice what they’re doing. They’re changing their product and process. They’re not changing the underlying problems.

Why not address the root cause?

Because they can’t.Cabins have to be pressurized for people to breathe. Humidity has to be low to prevent condensation and corrosion problems on the aircraft frame and avionics.

If you can’t treat the cause, then you treat the symptoms.

If you knew how to regulate emotion, evaporate stress, and dissolve money woes for your clients, you’d make more money as a self-help guru than as a custom builder or remodeler.

Those are just hard realities of life and of people making big decisions about things that are important to them.

So what do you do?

You start by acknowledging reality. People will be irrational, emotional stresspots with bigger appetites than budgets.

Then you tweak what you serve and how you serve it. Here are three ingredients to triage the situation:

#1 – Clarity

Emotion and stress cloud judgment. In the midst of those, even straightforward things can seem murky.

So, you have to be over-the-top clear in the information you present: pricing, timelines, choices. All of it. If there’s any ambiguity, clarify it more.

What if any “reasonable” person would understand what you presented? Make it so ANY person would understand — reasonable or not. Assuming clients are reasonable all of the time has gotten lots of builders in hot water (and into court).

#2 – Accessibility

Everyone needs to be able to get to that clear information, wherever, whenever. A clear presentation of information that’s not in hand doesn’t do any good.

And printing it out doesn’t cut it.

Have you ever seen fighter pilots go through testing in a hypobaric chamber, where they lower the air pressure to push the trainee to the point of delirium?

They can barely think. They can barely move. If they can’t get to something by almost subconscious reflex, it ain’t happening.

It’s the same deal with clients. And I’m not putting down clients. Remember, I was one!

But when the phone was ringing at work, a co-worker was yelling my name down the hall, my wife just texted me about dinner, and my mortgage lady emailed to find out where we stood on change order overages, there wasn’t a lot of mental bandwidth left to go digging for info.

#3 – Frequency

Don’t “set it and forget it.” Present information clearly, and often.

Information needs to be accessible, but that’s the reactive side of things. You also have to be proactive in giving info to clients.

Weekly on-site meetings or Skype calls are a good example. So are automatic email reminders about upcoming selections or pending change orders from a system like CoConstruct.

It’s up to you to keep the clear information front-and-center.

Lots of builders and remodelers work really hard to hammer down every selection choice before a project starts. And it works — sometimes.

But, I’ve seen those same guys frustrated over and over as their water-tight selections process springs leak after leak when clients are, well, clients.

That’s why CoConstruct has been a big help to those building custom projects. Lock down the details that you can, but when the inevitable “what ifs” and “oh, is it too late to change this,” questions come up — they have an organized way to manage the chaos.

The headaches of custom building will never be solved by trying to turn custom projects into production-builder, pick A, B, or C situations.

Custom building is all about accommodating the creative, albeit frustrating, refinement and changing of choices.

The guys who embrace the realities of it, and then manage the symptoms, are the ones smiling with happy clients.

The rest are just like Sisyphus, the mythological Greek king who spent his days rolling a rock up the side of the mountain… just to have it roll back down again.

Embrace what you do. Enjoy creating custom, personal homes for your clients.

If you need a way to manage some of the annoying symptoms, check out How It Works to see how our system can help.

Donny Wyatt

Founder & CEO of CoConstruct

December 10, 2019

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