Rodney M Bliss

Was It My Fault The Vendor Was Three Weeks Late? (Yes!)

I’m sorry your backsplash isn’t ready yet. Try back tomorrow. I’ll try to get the guys working on it first thing. Should be ready by about 10:00.

This was the sixth time I’d been in to this shop, and the third or fourth time since it was scheduled to be done. I needed it, or at least wanted it early the next morning to install it. However, as I drove away in frustration I realized it was my own fault that it wasn’t done. And I learned a lesson that anyone can use who needs to get someone else to do something for them.

I’m helping a friend remodel a house. I only get to help him one day a week or so. He’s asked me to simply be responsible for certain pieces. I “own” winterizing the shed and most of the kitchen repairs. I’d spent the last month trying to get a kitchen backsplash. When you are a single contractor with a small job, you pretty much get pushed to the back of the line. I knew this. I expected and planned for it even. But even my planning didn’t go far enough.

My first task was to find a laminate that would match, or at least compliment the existing countertop. I took these pictures into various shops saying, “It looks kind of like this. Can you match it?”

I found this little custom cabinet shop just a couple miles from my house in Pleasant Grove. They suggested I go look at the laminate samples at Home Depot and then come tell them the color when I found one. I picked Wilsonart D381-60, a light grey.

Wilsonart Fashion Grey
(Photo credit:

Back to the cabinet shop with the number.

Okay. Great. I’ll talk to our supplier and get you a quote. It will probably be around $100.

Off I went to work on computers and writing. Eventually, I decided it had been too long since I had heard from the cabinet shop. I stopped by, now for the third time.

I’m happy you stopped by. I lost your contact information. Oh, and do you still remember what color you picked?

So, off I went to other work. Again it seemed like a long time before they got back to me. I finally called them.

Yeah, we found the color, and it looks like it will be $125 total. It should arrive tomorrow and be ready on Friday. Would you mind paying for that now?

I didn’t mind. I mean it’s not like they would get very far on my $125 if they decided to run off with my money. Friday I stopped by, now for the fourth time.

You know, we’ve been real busy and the guys just haven’t been able to get to it yet. But, try back on Monday.

You might be thinking that I’m being WAY too easy on them. And maybe I was. Maybe, if I’d thrown a fit and yelled, I’d have gotten it quicker. I don’t know. Monday, I didn’t go to the cabinet shop. I waited until Wednesday. This was now my fifth visit.

We’ve got the laminate, but we haven’t got it cut and glued up yet. Do you want to see it?

No. I really want my product.

Probably, Friday.

And off I went without the backsplash. I didn’t go on Friday. But, at this point I started to get a little smarter. A “little” smarter, but not yet smart enough. If I were really smart I would have figured out how to get it sooner. I needed it on Wednesday, so on Tuesday, I went to the shop. Now for the sixth time. It was this visit when I was promised they would do it the following morning. The problem was I was headed to the job site early. And, installing this backsplash was a big part of what I had planned for the day. I was going to have to make an additional 40 mile round trip to get it in the middle of the day.

Wednesday, I headed off to the job site, sans the backsplash. At 9:30, they called me.

This is the cabinet shop. It’s going to be a little later than 10:00. I wouldn’t come by until say. . .eleven. . .thirty.

I was talking to my friend about it.

You know, it’s really my own fault that these weren’t ready until today.

Really? How so?

Well, I knew they were going to late. That’s why I went to get them on Tuesday. I was going to strap them to the top of my Suburban and have them ready to go. So, knowing they were going to be late, I should have shown up on Monday. They would have promised them the next day and I would have been able to get them on Tuesday.

He laughed, but I considered project management. I really didn’t care about making them a better shop. Or helping them improve their delivery or customer service. However, I cared very much about my schedule. The solution is not to assume that they will change. Instead I should look at my own actions and make whatever changes I need to accomplish my goals. And when I look at it that way, changing my actions would have gotten me the backsplash when I needed it. I thought a day early would have been enough. I should have made it two.

Here are the before and after pictures of the kitchen backsplash. The first step was to clean the kitchen.

Here’s the kitchen without a backsplash.

And with the backsplash installed.

I opted for a complementary color, rather than trying for an exact match.

Bracing it every which way I can until the glue dries.

It’s a fun diversion from my normal fare of computers and writing. It’s very satisfying when you can smack your problems with a hammer.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. . .and occasionally swings a hammer. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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