There’s a man in my garden called Michael. And he’s building my garden office. Coming free with my garden office, and he doesn’t know this yet but he will, is a refresher course for me on how to run a Great Little Business.
At every step of the way, Michael has been the consummate professional, taking care of every detail. He came to scope out the project when he said he would, on time, phoning first to check I was in and had remembered and that it was still convenient. We decided what I wanted and it turned out I would need planning permission because I live in a flat.
Michael drew up the plans and charged me no extra for that service, and in order to do that he had to make another couple of site inspections, all on time, all when he said he would. He is businesslike, delightful, polite and respectful to do business with. I put in the planning application, the council asked for more information. Michael returned to site and did what was necessary, no extra charge, all part of the service, all smiles, all quick and on time and exactly to his word.
We got planning permission in early September, during the post strike. Michael’s wife, Lucy, had been on the council’s website and let me know the good news as soon as it was posted there. We scheduled the work to start on Wednesday this week, 14th October. In that intervening month, contracts were exchanged, deposits paid and terms for the third and final payment were agreed to suit my personal financial circumstances. All very neat and tidy. He told me when the build would start and end, when and how I was required to pay the three instalments totalling £12,800.
I got up early on Wednesday knowing that workmen like to start work earlier than I do. I anticipated them at about 08.30, they contacted me 48 hours earlier to remind me they were coming and to enquire about parking and access for their deliveries.
Michael arrived on site early at 08.20, his assistant not far behind. I showed them the facilities, the bathroom, the kitchen and invited them to help themselves to tea and coffee whenever they wanted. Michael already told me that he was self-sufficient with his own supplies and would only stop twice during the working day for breaks. His assistant said the immortal words “that’s OK, I don’t drink tea or coffee!” Neither do I, so that’s just grand. I was able to instantly banish the thought of becoming their tea lady for three weeks.
They set about their work with relish, the first day was mainly about bringing in the tools, staking out the area on which they were going to build. Yesterday was about concreting the base and I could begin to see the standard of Michael’s workmanship which was exemplary. I could see he was one of those entrepreneurs I always talk about in my trainings, a perfectionist control freak, i.e. on top of every detail and here before his team, leading from the front. Fabulous! I instantly knew on Day One that my garden shed is going to be gorgeous as you can see anyway from the photo. I could see from the way he was perfecting the concreting just exactly the measure of the man.
So I said to the lad when he came to fetch two glasses of tap water “I see Michael is a perfectionist, what’s he like as a boss?” The lad was effusive. He knows he’s getting a great apprenticeship. I heard Michael giving him free life advice too, as they worked.
Today the frame is up and I can see precisely how it’s going to fit into my garden and they are waterproofing it for the weekend. A visitor to my house yesterday, a bloke, observed (completely unsolicited from me) how neatly they have their supplies stacked, organised and protected from any rain, a detail which would not have occurred to me. I have been asked to choose Farrow & Ball paint colours; I let Michael guide me. He asked me did I want decking and would I like it to match the shape of the garden step which leads down to the office? “Fill yer creative boots” I told him, such is my trust now.
At 2.30 I can see they are beginning to pack up to go home at 3 o’clock, as they have each day’s workload planned out to that degree, to bring the project in both on time and on budget. Fab-u-lous, Darling. The lad’s just been in to say goodbye and wish me a lovely weekend! I get icing on my cake too, it seems.
Sadly for us Londoners, this is the last London garden office Michael will ever build as he has already moved his wife and children to Dorset and they are going to be running their business in the Southern and South West Counties from now on.
Michael’s Garden Offices is a Great Little Business. He’s only doing one thing wrong. Can you see what it is yet, as Rolf would say? And gosh, I wish I was getting only one thing wrong in my businesses!
If you would like your own Great Little Business-In-The- Making to run like Michael’s Well Oiled Machine, grab yourself a seat in the Money Gym Boardroom.