Last week I had the opportunity to spend 24 hours in Dallas, Texas - or at least the area directly adjacent to the airport. Fun fact: DFW airport has a larger land mass at 29 square miles than the entire island of Manhattan. Spend a day hopping in and out of Ubers and you’ll hear this several times, I learned.

Thursday evening, after a long and somewhat discouraging board meeting, I am sitting in the airport with a cup of coffee, staring blankly at my book, when I hear a bit of a commotion. I look up and see almost everyone on the concourse standing and facing the windows. I joined them, looking across the tarmac at what looks an awful lot like a medium-large jet airliner, completely engulfed in flames. It’s off in the distance, so it’s hard to see what’s going on, but the flames and smoke are clearly visible. A few minutes later, the fire appears to be extinguished and the smoke dissipates. Everyone goes back to what they were doing.

A few minutes after that, my zone is called. I mention to the gate agent, “Soooo…what’s up with the plane on fire?” He says “WHAT?! There’s a plane on fire?!” I pointed behind him to the still visible smoldering lump at the far end of the property. He waves me off, saying “Oh, THAT. That’s just the fire department doing their drills.”

Now, I am not particularly frightened of flying. But like lots of people, I often have a twinge of anxiety when getting on a plane. Mostly I just remind myself that statistically flying is a lot safer than driving. And usually it’s pretty easy to suspend any concerns.

But usually there aren’t massive fires on the adjacent tarmac either. You would think that someone, somewhere, would have thought this through. Like, maybe at some point it would have come up in conversation, like “Hey, Jim - so I was thinking..maybe that whole ‘setting a plane on fire on the runway’ thing could upset some of our more sensitive passengers. What do you think?”

You wonder if it simply never occurred to anyone how this would look to the thousands of people in and around the airport at that time. Certainly, fire department training is good an important, but a bit of warning or communication would have calmed a lot of concerns.

I think we all need to constantly consider our work from the perspective of our clients. I imagine most of you have procedures in place, but now is a great time to review them and refresh yourself and your staff. You and your employees are going onto your clients’ properties; it pays to be respectful of their home and their space, simple stuff like not blocking their parking spots or access to their driveway. Little things like not smoking or spitting tobacco juice on their property, and more general things, like trying to have your employees smile and look happy to be there. And if you are working on large construction projects, always keep in the back of your mind that your clients are dealing with a lot of destruction and upheaval during the process, and they are operating on faith that you and your crew will make things beautiful. Having a plan for communicating with them throughout the process, along with a standard of job site cleanup every day will go a long way toward making them feel like you have their best interest in mind.