Recently a designer contacted me to tell me that his client wanted to chat with a few references to learn more about our company. I assured the designer that it wouldn’t be a problem to provide as many references as he needed. Being in business for 36 years builds quite a repertoire of clients and in thinking about the names that I would provide, my first thoughts were where do I begin? How far should I go into the past, should I give past clients, or designers that we interact with each day? What would I want to learn about Christiana Cabinetry?
Getting references is a good way to learn about a company. Before we do business with a potential supplier we always want to know how reliable, trustworthy and dependable they are as they affect the commitments we have made to our designers and clients.
I made the decision to provide several client names that we have interacted with over the 36 years we have been in business. As I called each one to ask if they would chat with the perspective client, very interesting conversations ensued. One client Karen and her husband, Doug, had purchased four or five kitchens over the years (it seems that I lost count). Working with Karen and Doug has always been a delight and a challenge. Delightful since they always have such great ideas and the properties that they purchase are very unique. Challenging because they push me to provide them with creative ideas and designs that become the spirit of that property. I agonize over each decision, but in the end, the efforts are rewarding when I hear the joy in their voices as the project ends.
Their last home on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH had a tremendous view of the lake. In speaking with Karen, she told me that they were putting this property on the market, and her realtor said, “Your kitchen will sell the house.” “Reference,” Karen asked, “I will give you a good reference,” she said. My heart melted… thankful that she would speak on my behalf, but more than that, I was grateful for the privilege of knowing Doug and Karen and thankful for the opportunity to work for them.
As I reflect on the 100’s of projects we have done, it occurred to me that I was not providing a reference, but rather sharing an insight into a treasured relationship. In the end, it is the relationship that matter most to me.