Sometimes the difference between a satisfied customer and a repeat customer comes down to the little details. No matter what line of work you are in, this applies. When it comes to electrical design for building systems, finding opportunities for creativity and innovation within the confines of building code is difficult, but not impossible.
Over the last decade I’ve had the pleasure of developing engineering designs on a wide variety of projects from sports and healthcare, to assisted living and hospitality. Every project has had its own set of challenges and opportunities, each equally rewarding. But my first lesson in the value of small details came while working as a contractor.
While in college I got an electricians license and worked a little in residential construction. On one particular project, I stepped outside the box a little and took a different approach on the layout for the above counter receptacles in the kitchen. For Dwellings, The NEC requires a minimum of two small appliance circuits in the kitchen. These are separate from dedicated circuits, such as those that may serve the dishwasher, refrigerator, etc. A lot of times contractors will install these circuit in such a manner that one circuit serves one half of the counter space, and the second circuit serves the other half. However, on this project I took a different approach in laying out the circuits, by alternating the receptacles between the two circuits so that no two adjacent receptacles were on the same circuit. My reasoning was that should someone be in the kitchen cooking and accidentally trip the GFCI, they could simply unplug from the one receptacle and plug into the adjacent one, without having to stop and hunt down the reset button. The owner later expressed their gratitude adding the extra touch, which his wife found very thoughtful.
On a different project, the breaker panel was installed on an exterior wall and the roof pitch left very little room for future access to the wall cavity above the panel, for running future circuits. A couple years later the owners needed to add a circuit and were able to do so quickly and easily without requiring cutting the drywall. This saved them time and money on their project. They sent me a note to thank me for putting in a 2-inch spare conduit and 90-degree sweep providing an access path from the attic to the panel.
I haven’t worked as an electrician for many years now, but I’ve carried these experiences, and others like them, over into my design projects over the years and from time to time a client expresses their appreciation for the extra touch, and for thinking outside the box. Living within the guidelines of a heavily developed building code, there are still opportunities to think creatively and add extra, personal touches. True customer service goes far beyond responsiveness, schedule and budget. Sometimes the best customer services can be found in just paying attention to the little things.