In life, we forge many different relationships. We form them with friends, family, business associates, vendors, dealers, distributors, other manufacturers, and customers. All such relationships can be challenged when difficult times, thorny issues and disagreements arise.

Successful long-term relationships require trust, communication and a desire to achieve a mutual goal. And it requires of all parties involved the desire to help each other advance their common goal.

Speaking as a hardwood flooring finish manufacturer, my common goal with the contractor is to serve as an integral part in the puzzle that he assembles into a beautiful wood floor installation. The harmony in this relationship is challenged when the common goal in the mind of the contractor or the consumer is not achieved and a complaint is raised. It is at this moment that trust and communication truly begin -- but it’s also the time when the bonds of a relationship can be put to the test.

When a job failure occurs, information gathering commences. For my part, I ask many basic questions that pertain to procedure and timeline. I do this in an effort to recreate the sequence of events. In my mind, I am trying to solve a mystery and any information that is missing, inaccurate or in discrepancy makes the mystery harder to solve.

When it comes to a complaint about a wood floor finish, retailers and contractors need to bear in mind that the finish manufacturer was not on the jobsite at the time of the installation. This is why it’s important for that manufacturer to ask so many questions. It’s not that we’re stonewalling anybody. We just need all the help we can get to try to solve the mystery behind the problem.

Many times, the most important pieces of information we need are not available. And when a finish comes into question, the most valuable piece of information resides with the finish container itself -- specifically, the product’s batch code.

At my company, we retain for two years samples of all the products we produce. Because each product has a batch code printed on its container, we can check the product in question against the control sample and also track any history of problems related to a specific batch.

If the container used for the project is lost or discarded, we lose the ability to sleuth the problem according to its batch. For this reason, the batch code of the floor finish should be written on every work order. This simple step can make a big difference if a problem arises after the installation has been completed.

While making note of the batch code doesn’t guarantee that we will be able to solve the mystery, it definitely increases our chances of doing so. So do your part to keep your relationship with your finish manufacturer strong -- note the batch code!