Give and get meaningful recommendations

Everybody loves getting referrals and recommendations but the more specific they are the more likely that there will be a ‘fit’.

So let’s take an example:
Suppose I know someone who is looking for someone to completely ‘make over’ her bathroom: New everything.

As it happens, we had ours done not long ago by a two-man team. We had strong ideas on the particular style of bath and, because the bathroom is quite small, were anxious that the space would be well used and keen that the natural light should be enhanced as much as possible so wanted a full sized mirror or mirror tiles to cover at least one wall. Other than that we were quite open minded.

My recommendation of this two-man team would be ‘warts and all’

  • They were no more or less reliable on turning up on time and with the expected sanitary ware and the necessary tools to do the job of the day than we’d come to expect from tradesmen
  • However, once they realised that we appreciated the work they were doing in the cramped space and summer heat, they started to be more forthcoming with helpful suggestions, such as:
    • “Don’t go for the cheapest wall tiles – they’ll look okay for a couple of years, then you’ll need to replace them”
    • “Don’t go for wall tiles that are too big or too small – they’ll look wrong in a bathroom this size”
    • “We can source a wall mounted heated towel rack that’ll fit in just here…”
    • “And if we put the new… here… there’ll be room for…”
    • “I’ve just finished a job where I used slates for the floor, came up a treat…”
    • “Don’t go for mirrored tiling on that wall – you won’t like it – we’ll get a mirror cut to fit the space…”
  • We still had minor glitches, such as the fact that they glazed the wooden door before removing the thumb print smudges, but nothing that couldn’t be fairly easily rectified
  • And they cleared up really well at the end of each day’s work, so we didn’t feel as if we were living in a construction site

Now my friend has a reasonable and realistic idea of what to expect if she decides to make contact.

Referrals and recommendations
This point may seem obvious, but I’ll make it anyway because, with the best will in the world, things do go wrong and people do get burnt:

It’s important to only give referrals and recommendations in the best of faith. For example I know a painter/ decorator/ carpenter whose work by all accounts is excellent. However, he’s notoriously unreliable. Would I use him? No. So I can’t recommend him. Would I refer him? No chance. I have my own reputation to protect.

Bear this in mind when you’re asking others for referrals and recommendations!


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