• Bill Petrie

"You Should All Be Dead"

Why attention to detail is so critically important

Those words still reverberate in my soul two weeks after they were said to me by an air conditioning repairman. In fact, he had to repeat it - the second time with more emphasis before I was able to comprehend the gravity of what he was explaining:

“Literally, your entire family should be dead.”

When I asked for clarification – the “why” my family should be dead – the worker asked when the roof had been replaced, to which I told him about three years ago after a big storm. Then he lowered the boom: “when a roof is replaced, they need to disconnect your carbon monoxide exhaust from the furnace. So one of the final things on their checklist is to make sure that exhaust is reattached before they consider the job complete.” As I struggled to make sense of his words, he showed me the picture of my furnace that you see on this blog post – the one with the giant exhaust pipe not attached. I was gob-smacked.

He explained that there was enough space in the eaves and gables that the toxic gas could escape enough not to harm us – but that was the exception and not the rule. When I pressed him on how something like this could happen, he stated that the roofing company “didn’t pay attention to details.” That’s quite an understatement.

While I did reach out to the roofing company, they couldn’t give me any definitive reason why they overlooked the detail of reconnecting the carbon monoxide exhaust to the HVAC unit. My guess is they were moving too fast, and it was one of those things that just fell through the cracks.

While it may not result in life or death, many businesses make mistakes because they move too fast. While on the surface, they may seem small and insignificant, to the client it may mean the difference between marketing success and failure:

  • Forgetting to order the one 3XL sweatshirt that was to be worn by the CEO

  • Transposing numbers on the in-hands date causing a client event to be missed

  • Assuming the order was shipping to corporate when it needed to go directly to the event site

All smallish details, but when omitted, can lead to catastrophic results for your client. Of course, mistakes will still happen as we are all human, but the lesson here is to take the necessary time to slow down and check your work to ensure that the missteps that will occur from time to time are minimal. It may not be a life-or-death situation like mine, but your clients will enjoy the peace of mind knowing you’re doing everything you can to create an easy, repeatable, and dependable experience.

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