The Paper Trail
One of the most important issues with any part of wood flooring contracting and or distribution is the paper trail. The Who? What? When? and sometimes Why? of the job. The paper trail should begin with the initial contact. Jot down the name of the contact person and date. Unproductive contacts can be tossed later, but having an ongoing log can help with misunderstandings and future marketing and help prevent redundant calls.
Name the potential customer. Most of us have mastered this item as the most important contact. The customer is the payee and keeps our businesses going.
Other whos that are important and should be recorded on quotes, job tickets and or delivery tickets are: site contact, sales person, primary mechanic, delivery person etc. When a question needs answering or something goes wrong; "Who" do you contact?
Can be either products or actions. For products, name the products used.
Flooring: For unfinished flooring, state the size, grade, species, amount, and most importantly the manufacturer, the most often omitted entry. Factory finished flooring with its proprietary names and descriptions should include the product-specific name and color; the manufacturer is important but often the product name identifies the manufacturer. Other items that can be included are the lot numbers and or pallet numbers. These numbers can be jotted down on the delivery ticket when the product is loaded for delivery. This information can be invaluable when problems arise. Response time is shortened by quickly identifying the specific product and contacts involved.
Adhesive: For all adhesive applications, identify the manufacturer and specific product used. This is your first line of defense when questions arise concerning suitability and recommended procedures. Manufacturers recommendations always prevail. If you haven't followed the manufacturers directions this can also put you at risk for responsibility of a failure.
Finish: Identify manufacturer of the different products. Manufacturer's identity is very important for problems with finishes such as peeling, premature wear, alligatoring, fish eye, etc. For actions, record what is to be done and what is done.
Take site moisture readings of the slab or wood subflooring - Very important; don't take these and don't record them and you are automatically at risk for site related problems. Many record the readings directly on the subfloor as well as the job ticket. Note problems to be corrected by others. Copy and send a written note to the responsible party. Once installation starts, you are acknowledging the site conditions are acceptable.
Take moisture readings of flooring. 20 to 40 readings are necessary to get a good enough sampling for an average. Record the overall range and average reading on the delivery ticket or work order. This applies mainly to solid flooring materials.
These readings establish the present flooring conditions and help determine when acclimation is necessary and or completed and installation can proceed. Unusual readings will red flag problems and the necessary trouble shooting can be conducted before installation instead of later when they are much more costly. Engineered products should also be checked prior to installation from the different boxes to identify potential problems.
Subfloor preparation - State what is to be done. Sand panel seams most likely with OSB. Sand or bead blast slab etc, slab should be clean, dry and flat to tolerance. Apply leveler as necessary, record type of lever. Re-nail, repair subflooring, cut for panel spacing, and or repair subfloor. Note problems to be corrected by others. Copy and send a written note to the responsible party.
Installation - What kind: Glue down or mechanically fasten especially important with engineered products over wood subflooring. Floating system. With some products different applications are acceptable and the site specific application needs to be spelled out. Besides identifying the specific installation areas note the direction: Left to Right, Front to Back, Diagonal.
Sanding and Finishing - Note the color, number of coats, gloss level etc.
Date all the contacts and procedures; put the date on the notes.
The different dates establish the time line for all the procedures. Important dates are: contract date and expected start date; flooring delivery; installation start and completion; sanding and finishing start and completion.
Any subsequent contact should also be dated and added to the file. This creates support where misunderstandings arise.
The Sometimes Why?
For complaints and disputes, record and date a summary of all conversations as they occur.
A good paper trail will establish the conditions and support a timely resolution to problems. In addition, if problems are repeated, reviewing the situations with good documentation can go a long way to identifying and fixing the cause.
Establish the paper trail for your protection.