Ever hear that one before? Ever say that one before? One of the most difficult issues to deal with contractors is having them show up when they say they will. Then, having them finish when they say they will.
Contractors, especially trade contractors, are very good at what they do. Their talent is in laying tiles, putting up sheetrock, plumbing, etc. It is not in human dynamics. You wait at home for them to show up or at least call if they cannot make it due to unforeseen circumstances on a previous job. You try calling them and they don’t answer and don’t return messages.
Some companies have learned to aggravate you by giving 4 or 8 hour increments of time at which they will be there. “We’ll be there after 8 and before 12.” OK, I can live with that as long as they show up. It’s called controlled aggravation. It would be nice to have them show up when you want them and within a one hour time frame. But, that would lead to what we call extreme aggravation. The late day calls would never make it on time.
Enter your business trainer. Why do trade schools and community colleges not teach customer relations? How a contractor talks with his customers, whether he does what he says he will do and how well he follows up are the most important aspect of any business and what will lead to referrals and repeat business. Yet, we spend more time teaching him how to mortar a joint.
So for now, as a contractor, seek help. Hire a consultant that can give you the basics of dealing with customers and follow-through.
What most customers get disappointed about:
- Contractor didn’t do what he said he would.
- He didn’t clean up thoroughly.
- He took longer than he said he would.
- Costs were added due to “unforeseens”.
- He skipped a day to go finish another job (now he’ll do the same to someone else to finish your job).
What customers need to do. When you interview the contractor, ask these specific questions:
- What day will you start?
- How long will it take?
- What would cause it to take longer?
- What would cause the price to go up? Don’t settle for “unforeseens”. Ask for a couple examples.
- Read their agreement or contract thoroughly. Anything can get changed. Keep in mind the contractor may opt out on some changes.
- Get an insurance certificate showing their coverage, ask that it be sent directly from the agency, not a copy they have.
- Ask if they will use subs. You’ll need their certificates of insurance as well.
Afterwards, keep an eye on the job, if you see something you don’t like, tell them immediately. Corrections as you progress are a lot easier to do than when the project is complete.
Getting friendly with the contractor will not work in your favor. Keep it professional. Don’t look for freebies, they’ll cost you somewhere along the line.