One thing I am always amazed by is the lack of professionalism that certain companies exhibit.  At the moment I am trying to find a landscape gardener to do some work in my garden (obviously!)  Nothing too drastic but a new layout and fixing up some current issues.    I asked around and got given a couple of recommendations and I used and Google to find some businesses in the local area whom I could contact.  Of the 7 or 8 companies I wrote to (emailed) or called or both, only one ever called me back.  This in itself amazes me when we are in the middle of a recession!
The one who called me seemed great.  He was very attentive and he came round fairly quickly to have a look at the job.  He clearly knows his stuff about gardens and landscape design.  He is a young guy who actually started his own business with a grant from the Prince’s Trust a number of years ago.   We got on well and he even let my 3-year old daughter help him measure up.  I immediately trusted that this guy would do a good job and that I would be happy having him in my home. 
A week or so later we had a digital meeting where with a combination of the phone and an internet meeting, he was able to talk me through his designs (3D) and the associated quote.  All good so far!  He promised to send me a quote the next day.
Since that point it has all started to go downhill.  The next day turned into a week later and the quote was a random selection of standard paragraphs about grass and gravel with a cost at the bottom.  We had a chat and I explained that I needed a more detailed, itemised quote which actually explained what he would do and what was and wasn’t included.  He told me they stopped doing this a few years ago but he would do one for me.  I helped by sending him a list of 12 questions to which he responded, pretty much proving my point!  As an example…he hadn’t included the cost of a skip but we needed one!  His understanding of some of the work required on the patio was different to mine.
What I just don’t understand is why these this guy (and other good people and companies) can’t understand that as a consumer, with limited knowledge about gardening, I need some detail and confidence before I can commit to spending a decent amount of money on a job.  I have had a lot of ‘dodgy’ experiences with builders etc who always try to add stuff on that ‘wasn’t included’ when clearly it was.  Even at work, I have this a lot, especially with agencies but over time I have learnt that the more specific I can be up front the less surprises there are later.  There is definitely a gap in the market for a trader who actually provides all the information required to give me confidence as a consumer, build trust and get the work!  One day I might find one…