Communication Issues

Jim Snyder
August 25, 2015
THE TALK... | Operations

Good communication with your installers is important, but good communication between you, the installer, and your customer is even more so. That’s Not What I Meant, my latest column, discusses a costly communication lesson I learned the hard way. It wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last but ultimately, the experience reduced errors.

During my installing days, when speaking with consumers about windows or doors, I found myself filling sentences brief definitions, supplemented by illustrative demonstrations as I went along. It can be helpful to use a certain amount of precise terminology to educate the homeowner. Giving them some elementary jargon, along with a visual helps foster understanding as you move into the actual installation.

For example, if I were describing the procedure for a pocket insert replacement for an existing double hung, it might go like this: I would slide my finger along an interior stop and say, “We’ll carefully remove these skinny little trim strips, called the stops.” “This gives us access to remove both sash,” I explain as I open the window, figuratively grasp the sash and yank them out, and so on.

Providing this information and then closing the communication loop through feedback ensures there is a shared mental model between both parties. It reduces confusion and angst on the part of the homeowner.

Yet, it seems most consumers are either “analytical types” or they are not; they either want all the details (like me) or very few (like my wife). The few clients that are in-between can make me kind of anxious for fear that we are not connecting. They may ask a lot of questions about details we’ve already (thoroughly) discussed.

Is their mind wandering to their next question as I’m answering the first? Is their envisioned end result different than what I’m describing? In these cases, I would politely return the questions to them for conformation of their understanding. I would also write out the contract in extra detail and carefully review with them.

What have you experienced in terms of communicating with clients? Read this week’s poll results, share a lesson in the comments section or drop me a line.

Survey Results for 08/26/2015 :

Which type of clients are you more comfortable with?

Those who appreciate the details





The clients who are somewhere in between





Those who only want the highlights




Jim Snyder is an AAMA-certified FenestrationMaster and InstallationMaster who shares his years of installation field experience as an industry writer, speaker, trainer and project/product consultant for dealers and manufacturers. A member of various industry organizations, Snyder also is involved in instructional document creation and revision. Contact him at