My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1176: Making a Difference

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 11-26-2013 11:20 AM 1238 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1175: Working Weekend Part 1176 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1177: A Break »

Thank goodness for my early mornings!

I was so fortunate that I got so much done early yesterday. As the day progressed, it seemed to be caught in ‘fast forward’ mode and before I knew it, it was getting dark and night time had arrived. It all happened within a blink of an eye.

I was so happy that I got up early, as I felt that I at least had a jump start on things because I got right to work. My mail box was full of messages and I had wanted to get our next newsletter out which announced our recent site update. And I still had to create that painting pattern that I talked about the last couple of days.

Writing the newsletter is becoming a bit easier than it used to be. The software on our site is somewhat tedious to use, but in the end it produces a nice and professional message. It also pulls the addresses directly from our site where people have signed for our mailing list. That is a great feature and is little effort on my part. It is good about keeping track of who has subscribed for the mailings and who has does not want them. The last thing I want to do is send a newsletter to someone that doesn’t want to receive one.

I received an email yesterday from a company who develops web sites. It started off by telling me how “deficient” my own site was and how poorly it was performing. Then it went on to say how they would be able to help me straighten things out – for a fee, of course.

While I know there is need for improvement on the site, I found this email to be a bit offensive. To me, it was as if someone said to me ”Mam – your child is quite ugly, but if you use our product(s), it will make them far more socially acceptable. So let us help you.” Their approach had a lot to be desired.

Even though I was spinning ten plates, I felt I wasn’t too busy to write the company and tell them what I thought of their approach to potential clients. If that is how they are when they are seeking new work, I couldn’t imagine how they would be once the obtained the job. It probably fell on deaf ears (or blind eyes if you will) but the few minutes I took to write them and request removal from their mailing list felt pretty good. For some reason I felt obligated to let them know how I felt about their tactics.

That brings me to thinking about something else that happened last week . . .

Keith and I had to bring his dad’s car into the Ford dealer to clean it and detail prior to his mom putting it on the market to sell. Since his mom doesn’t drive, she has no use for it. Keith’s dad kept it in excellent condition, and it was well-maintained and kept nice all the years he had it. It just needed a bit of detailing and cleaning, as it wasn’t used much in the past year or so since his dad was sick.

We took the car in and specifically told them that we were selling it and wanted it to look beautiful. It had been parked in an area where the branches from their tree had shaded it and there were some pine needles that had fallen on it and there was some debris along the door and window moldings that we wanted to be sure they cleaned these. I was there when Keith explained this to them and asked them to take care of it.

When we picked up the car last week, it looked OK, but many of these issues were not addressed. At first glance it looked OK, but upon closer inspection, it looked to me like they really did a poor job. (I was the one who drove it home and Keith drove his own vehicle.) Not only were the pine needles still there, but the dash board was still dusty, as were the cup holders, and even the dials and buttons on the front dash panel. This wasn’t just ‘loose dust’ but it was the kind of grit that builds up over time, even in a car that is kept pretty clean. Every corner in the car had little piles of debris in it, and it looked as if they just did a quick job on the surface and that was that. I wasn’t happy.

I mentioned this to Keith as I thought we should have pointed this out to them before taking the car home. (We had seen it in the lot on the way in and noticed even then that several of the things he pointed out to them were not done.) He said that there was no point, as they just didn’t care and when we got in he paid them and off we went, with the mediocre job of cleaning.

I didn’t chime in or say anything, because it wasn’t my issue to make. It wasn’t my car and I felt that it wasn’t my business. So I just stood there and bit my tongue.

But if it WAS my own car, you bet I would have said something. I feel that if you pay someone to do a job and they don’t do it correctly, you need to call them out on it. I am not saying that you have to be rude or nasty about it, but I do believe that in order to change the way things are, they first have to be made aware that there is a problem in the first place.

From Ford’s point of view, everything was fine. The manager probably didn’t even look at the car and the lazy employee that did the ‘cleaning’ probably thought he got away with doing half a job. And he did. To me, this only perpetuates the laziness and the poor quality of work, and in the end, business will suffer. I know that I will never bring my car to them for service again, as there have been more than one times when they did half a job or didn’t fix things properly in the first place. I don’t know if it is the management or the employees or a bit of both. After all, people tend to get away with what they can if not policed properly. There are exceptions to this, I know, but in that type of environment, personal pride in doing a job seems to be on the decline.

When I make an error on a pattern, I welcome the feedback from my customers. I am not saying that I am happy about mistakes, but I truly believe that feedback from customers helps make me a better designer. Perhaps it is in the way I explain something or how to put something together. If there is something that is not clear to one person, chances are it isn’t clear to the next. I welcome these questions so that I can fine tune my instructions to perhaps better state things so everyone understands. It brings my work up a level.

I don’t think my letter to the web designing company will have much impact. I think they probably put out mass mailings to web sites to solicit business. This makes things even more disturbing because in the letter they say how they ‘analyzed’ my site and found all these horrific problems. It is part of the reason it irked me.

But at least I had my say with them. If any human eyes DO read their mail, perhaps it will click that insulting potential customers in order to gain their business is a tactic that (to some) is unacceptable. And hopefully they will rethink their approach.

Change cannot occur unless we change. Whether the problems are big or small, there is no way we can expect a different outcome to anything if we don’t change our own behavior/reactions as well. We need to start small and we need to see that we DO count – even as an individual on one instance.

With that said, I am off to start another busy day. I had a reporter from a newspaper in Yarmouth call me yesterday and he is coming over this morning to interview me, as they somehow heard of my business and work and want to do an article on me. That is exciting and scary at the same time. He will probably be amused that we do so much out of such a small place. I doubt that is what he expects!

I hope he likes cats!

Have a great Tuesday!

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. – Marian Wright Edelman

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

5 comments so far

View robscastle's profile


5107 posts in 2231 days

#1 posted 11-26-2013 09:25 PM

Well Sheila the situation of poor attention to detail relates to possibly many causes.

1 Lack of correct knowledge of what a good or expectedand acceptable result is, this may come from basic attitude and aggravated by lack of effective and constructive feedback.

With somebody doing a repetition task, the initial quality of the product in regard to time and acceptable quality level would be low first up but never acceptable again at that level for a repeat performance.

The attitude, An attitude based firmly on self criticism “could I have done it better” and the answer is almost yes, which is then based on the fact that now that the activity has been done once improvements can be introduced if approached constructively.

2 Supervision by a “more Knowledgeable” person again this needs to be approached constructively and responded on in a positive fashion, meaning recognition of the short comings and a want to improve.

Otherwise all the clap trap can be summed up as Simply does not care, and there are a lot of situations out there.

-- Regards Rob

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3010 days

#2 posted 11-26-2013 11:15 PM

thanks for the post today. how wonderful that you have a cat, that’s interested in reading the daily news.Sheila, just to let you know; my 21” excaliber was delivered today. it’s still on my front porch; sent by seyco. I also had knee surgery today, so it will be a few days until I can get it out of the box. It’s just nice to know its here!

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2100 days

#3 posted 11-27-2013 03:32 AM

Hi Sheila, we have several of those type of “we can improve your webpage” e-mails for our club website. Nine times out of ten they come from out of the country and I treat them as spam. The tone is quite offensive. I find your website very easy to navigate as it is and ordering patterns is very efficient and secure.
Enjoy your evening. Another cool and sunny day here – I think it’s coming to an end soon :(

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2947 days

#4 posted 11-27-2013 10:31 AM

Thank you Rob – That is some good advice. :)

Doordude – that is good news. I hope you are feeling better soon. Take your time in your recovery. The saw will be there for you.

Anna – Thank you for your positive thoughts. I hope the weather holds out as loon as possible for you. Here we are on the brink of snow I think.

Have a good day everyone.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2831 days

#5 posted 12-01-2013 02:43 PM

Some folks out there don’t take any pride in doing anything. That is the sad truth.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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