As we were growing up, we have each had so many things – hundreds of them likely – that we did, saw, heard, felt, or experienced for the first time. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We don’t come into this world pre-programmed with a set of experiences. Some of what we did frightened us initially, and some was fun. There was a first time for riding a bike, shooting a free throw, putting a golf ball on a miniature golf green, hitting a baseball, skating, driving a car, placing a cell phone call, solving a math problem, writing a term paper, going out on a date, going to a party, logging onto a computer, and on and on.
The first time we are asked to conduct an aging in place assessment for a home modification or meet with someone to discuss how they want to make changes to their home, the first time someone says “no” to a closing question, and the first time we write a work order and take a deposit are going to be defining moments of our aging in place professional career. Before each of those happens, there may be a little apprehension about how to do it or how to keep from messing up. Nevertheless, we’ll get through it. Maybe this isn’t the first time but close to it.
While a natural feeling to evoke some sympathy from our customers or clients by explaining that this is or was the first time we had ever actually done an evaluation or assessment on our own in the field (not counting ones done at school or with someone else), prepared a scope of services and formulated an estimate, or used a particular form or application, this is not their concern. Some people feel that the customer will grant them extra understanding and leniency by proclaiming that they are new or inexperienced – or that it’s their first time doing this.
Actually, the opposite is true. Clients and customers – particularly those who are trusting us to make safety and mobility assessments and recommendations for them and then to carefully make those improvements in their home – want to work with someone who knows what they are doing. It might indeed be the first time for something – after all, there is a first time for everything – but we must not use this as a crutch to try to explain a weak performance or in any way to appeal for sympathy from our clients.
We need to be prepared. This comes from doing our homework, practicing, and developing confidence that we will do things correctly even when we are doing them “live” for the first time. No one has time for us to learn on the job at the expense of the customer. There is too much at stake. Our clients are entrusting their well-being and their future comfort on how we do our job. It is a serious responsibility and undertaking.
Even when we are doing something for the first time, we must act as if we are accomplished veterans. Part of this will come from many hours of mental preparation and practice before ever doing a solo performance for the customer or client. We may have done assessments before with someone or for a class assignment. We must take that experience and build upon it to feel comfortable when we do it for real on our own in a client’s home. They want results – they are paying for them. They need excuses, and we don’t need their sympathy.
We may have done many remodeling or construction projects previously but perhaps none where seniors or people with special needs were counting so much on what we created for them – from a functional or life-improving standpoint as well as being something attractive and well-done.
Of course, the more times we do something, the better we become and we are more at ease with doing it. Still, the customer or client should never know that we haven’t done something before. This would diminish the confidence they have placed in us to be able to help them.