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Forum topic by Kent Shepherd posted 06-18-2010 11:48 PM 2034 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4342 days

06-18-2010 11:48 PM

Is it just me, or do some of you get totally frustrated with people refusing to use the right terminology for things.

Having been in construction all my life, we have constantly had to deal with people using their own made up names for things. Or more often using the wrong description. For instance, in the raised panel cabinet door business, we have a cathedral style, and an eyebrow style. Some will call it whatever suits them today, and I’m supposed to read their mind. We even have a brochure with our terms listed. We have around 200 regular contractors and cabinet guys we deal with. Imagine the nightmare when they refuse to find out what terms we use. Even when we point out what we call something, they blow us off and say what they want. Then, when it’s wrong it is always our fault and we pay for the mistake. (This happened again this morning)

Terms like using flush mount doors, meaning overlay, while to others flush mount means inset. To some inset is 3/8” lip door, while some call an inset door an inset door. One long time customer calls our new mitered door an inset door because that’s the way he hangs them. It has nothing to do with the door style. What will happen when my help takes an order.

I have always tried to go into a business and find out how they want me to order their product, instead of dictating to them how I will order. There is so much room for error with that mentaility. Again, if others in my shop take an order, it’s even worse. Maybe they don’t read minds as well as I do—and I certainly have my limitations. When someone boldly uses terms as if they knew what they were talking about, is it my place to question every term they use?

We expect measurements to be given width x height, which is pretty standard in the industry. Some know what we want, and order height x width and basically tell us that is “how they have always done it”. Our computer program takes the measurement our way ( this is a commercial program by the way), so do you see the problem of trying to look at a list and entering everything backwards.

Sorry about the long rant, but it’s hard enough to make a profit anymore without redoing jobs senselessly.
We work hard at pleasing the customer, but I feel like I’m fighting a loosing battle. I can’t seem to ask enough of the right questions.

How has this topic affected your work?



29 replies so far

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1092 posts in 4451 days

#1 posted 06-18-2010 11:58 PM

In our businesses we question every verbal description made by customers, vendors and anybody else involved.
I’ve blogged about this problem in the past and it’s a continuing problrm.
Even here on LumberJocks, there is little conventionality.
It would seem to be human nature.
“I’ll do it my way and nobody is going to tell me what to do!”
I’m sure you’ve noticed that in your business and, I believe its common in all businesses.
Artists and photographers, knitters and crocheters, seamstresses and tailors, editors and writers, and many other crafts have the same problems, some of them to an exaggerated degree.
Buck up, Kent, it’s just the way it is.
Just do your best. I’m sure you do your best and its very good.
Best regards,

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 4754 days

#2 posted 06-19-2010 12:09 AM

Error “wseand” something weird going on???

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4098 days

#3 posted 06-19-2010 12:26 AM

GMman why does your signature look like A1jim’s. it look like your signature is messed up and your post is in the wrong thread. Maybe it is just the meds I am on.

View Dave Price's profile

Dave Price

90 posts in 4030 days

#4 posted 06-19-2010 12:26 AM

Kent i find it reassuring that you take the time to question your orders and make sure its right. there are so many company’s out there that just don’t care, i make lots of orders from refrigeration parts to computers and it sure doesn’t bother me when someone on the other end of the phone questions my terminology for what i think something is. bottom line is i do business with the people that get it right the most, save time and money that way. i think this just classifies you as a smart business man IMHO.

-- Dave Price , Roswell New Mexico

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4633 days

#5 posted 06-19-2010 12:41 AM

Kent I know it’s a pane when people don’t use the right terms ,but I know I forget or mix things up saying one thing when I mean another. A place I’ve ordered doors from on the west cost only accepts one of their preprinted forms for any and all orders. Then the call and confirm and if I filled something out wrong they send me a fax to confirm the order and after sending back a signed change order then they build the doors.
This can be a pain in the neck but so is having to pay and wait for replacement doors. they also have a catalog showing what each detail and type of doors are called .


View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5274 days

#6 posted 06-19-2010 12:50 AM

I have an idea, Kent…. Give each of your styles a number, and make the customer give you the number as well as the name.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4397 days

#7 posted 06-19-2010 02:28 AM

if someone starts to give me the ‘double talk ’ ,
i give them a piece of paper and a pencil ,
and tell them to write or draw their idea .
most shut up ,
some actually admit they had the wrong words or idea .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View CampD's profile


1825 posts in 4542 days

#8 posted 06-19-2010 03:11 AM

I feel your pain!

-- Doug...

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 4042 days

#9 posted 06-19-2010 03:22 AM

I also went with the number system… and pictures. It feels dumbed down but it has made everything a lot clearer… so… I go with what works.

It is frustrating though. Really, who does height x width?!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View DocK16's profile


1199 posts in 5143 days

#10 posted 06-19-2010 03:30 AM

Maybe it’s time to switch to decaf.

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4705 days

#11 posted 06-19-2010 04:02 AM

I totally agree Kent, after all – isn’t that why we have language and agreed upon words? to avoid confusions?

I fail to see why people are so hard headed when it comes to vocabulary and terminology where it really has nothing to do with one’s ‘way of doing things’ nor their personal taste.

as mentioned – when I sense that I’m dealing with someone that prefers to use other meanings to certain terminology, I go with the “communications for dummies” and revert to a drawn and marked diagram so that we completely disregard words, and go to visuals to make sure we’re on the same track.

but yeah – frustrating nonetheless.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20637 posts in 4732 days

#12 posted 06-19-2010 04:25 AM

Acronyms on drawings were fairly standard for many years, but it seems like engineers like to make up their own the last few years. I don’t know if they are too lazy to use the corrrect one or if they are snortiing too much c…....

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ajosephg's profile


1897 posts in 4617 days

#13 posted 06-19-2010 04:58 AM

It’s a universal problem in every business. For example I used to own an automobile service shop and I got so tired of people coming in and telling me to check their coolant when when what they wanted was their A/C fixed.

-- Joe

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4265 days

#14 posted 06-19-2010 05:23 AM

It is frustrating, and sometimes costly, but once in a while it can be amusing. I was doing some bathroom repairs and told the homeowners they needed a new P-trap. I got the huffy reply, “Couldn’t you call it something else?!” LOL

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4390 days

#15 posted 06-19-2010 11:07 AM

I feel your pain too Kent, but the world of contracts and work descriptions to contractors is even worse. Even the correct terminology doesn’t help when the parties to an agreement can’t agree on the interpretation. Of course the interpretation isn’t tested until the project is well under way or finished. We just need to devise means to eliminate as much confusion as possible. Pictures are a good way. The Egyptians got their pyramids built using them. I wonder how they settled disputes.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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