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Thread: 5 steps to guarantee being a successful contractor.

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Kansas City
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    There's a point at which, if you want to be a professional, you can't just do all your business over your cellphone. You need an office manager or someone who will handle scheduling, take calls, return calls, call subs, etc. Phone tag is too uncertain.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    N.E. Ohio
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    You need an office manager or someone who will handle scheduling, take calls, return calls, call subs, etc. Phone tag is too uncertain.
    Ok agreed - - but - - in my case, allwe wanted was someone to call us when they were on their way.
    The tree company has two other jobs scheduled for Tuesday. The best they could tell us was "sometime in the afternoon".

    In this day and age - where everyone has a cell phone & phones like Trac are dirt cheap, an answer like "sometime in the afternoon" is unacceptable.

    This is a rental house and there's not anyone home in the afternoon - - what do they expect us to do, sit in the driveway for five hours and wait for them to show up?
    'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance...

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Bakerton WV
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    240
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    Roger. my wife would vigorously oppose you on that. We had a guy finish off our half bath. He insisted on doing some tile work "his way", despite my wife's repeated demands he NOT do it that way. In the end, he did his thing, my wife - and I - deemed that "the final straw", and told him to just pack up and leave.

    Also, one of the most common things I hear from contractors is that they "couldn't work for a boss, so, they went into business for themselves".
    They just don't seem to get that, every job they go on, they are working FOR someone else - the customer.

    I do see your point though - and I freely admit that it goes both ways - there's very little that's more irritating to a contractor than a customer constantly sticking their nose into things and being a downright nuisance - but - the customer is the one with the final say on things. Some times, as a contractor or a sub, you just have to bite your tongue, suck it up and be diplomatic about things.
    My critique of your wife's experience is that there was a failure to reach an agreement before work started and likely an unqualified person was put on the task. It is up to the client to require and check references, license and insurance. Again it is the agreement that should rule the scope, detail and methods of work. If you can not reach an agreement, do not proceed with work, because in the end it is the client lives with the result.

  4. #19
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    Nov 2006
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    N.E. Ohio
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    Nope - we had a complete agreement of what we wanted. Agreements are not the problem. It's the total disregard of what the client wants that's the problem.

    You are spot on though about him being unqualified....he was a total loser. His helper, that knew 1000 times more than he did, was under constant verbal assault by the joker from day one.

    As far as checking references goes - - I'll defer to the other posts in this thread.....when you call no less than a dozen people and only one shows up, what else can you do?

    If a contractor actually decided to grace a person with his/her presence, it's considered a miracle of the same magnitude of the Star of Bethlehem rising in the East..
    'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance...

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Bakerton WV
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    240
    Even in the face of a sellers market, beggars can be choosers. You will need to go up-market in as far as contractors go, custom work costs more. Design ideas when placed higher up on the priority scale require drawing out in planning. I literally believe you did not have a clear agreement. The so-called Peter Principle governs, a person gets advanced to their level of incompetence, so beware.

  6. #21
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    Nov 2006
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    N.E. Ohio
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    5,417
    I literally believe you did not have a clear agreement.
    Fine - believe what you choose to believe. It still doesn't change the fact that when it gets right down to it, "The customer is always right".....ergo, it's up to the contractor to be the one that does what the customer wants.

    Mind you, that in no way means the contractor is under any obligation to do what the customer wants for the same price.
    'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance...

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,524
    I've been on both sides of this one, there are some real jokers out there "contracting". The price of admission is pretty low to get rolling, so there isn't much incentive to make a real business out of the job for some. I'd amend the rules to just this one, it's a business, treat it like it is.

    That means communicate, do bookwork, follow the laws (no matter how stupid), use contracts, and make for darn sure you have good guys associated with you (employees or subs).


    As a contractor, it's fun to meet the customers, some even become good friends. That relationship can be abused easily by unscrupulous customers though, you have to be careful. I'd offer a contractors rule list for customers...


    1. When you agree to the work, it's in the contract. If you change your mind, it'll cost more and delay the job. Contractors often get blamed a lot for customer caused delays and overruns.

    2. Communicate, if you don't like something, say so before it's too late to easily change it. It'll cost a lot less to change something early.

    3. Unless we're doing a huge project for you, like building your house, we will have other jobs going on. It helps us be more efficient to be able to spread the overhead costs out, which helps your rates be lower. Unless you want to pay for the whole crew to be there all the time, don't expect it. Trust the contractor to be managing labor and equipment resources the most efficient way possible.

    4. Like it or not, construction can be like sausage making. Demo is never pretty, the project always looks terrible before it looks beautiful.

    5. Because #1 is so important, I'll say it a different way - Have a clear idea and stick to it. Planning costs money, an evolving plan is way more expensive than a clear and concise one. We'll build what you want, just please know what that is BEFORE we start.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    San Benito, TX
    Posts
    44
    I feel your pain Rich. I've had similar circumstances over the years. I picked upon a good solution. The landscape contractor son of a man who did some work (on time and well) moved in down the street from me. He did a great job for me on a large patio. Since he went to school locally he has a network of friends who are in various trades. I get my referrals from him. So far various friends of his have done my roof, some outstanding tree climbing and removal, a new septic system and a few smaller jobs. He is fussy himself and so far every one of his recommended friends has done great work on time, on budget, and they even return phone calls. I am fully satisfied and think referrals from a contractor you trust is the way to go.
    Plus one.

    I am a cabinetmaker and finish carpenter in deep south Texas close to the border. I do high end work for very particular contractors and clients and the list of fellow sub-contractors I'm willing to recommend to clients is very short. Poor work done by a referral reflects poorly on me, too. Not to mention, I don't want my clients ending up with poor quality work.

    Of the other two, the one said look, you do not appear to be in a rush, I have a waiting list of jobs to get to. If you can wait to January, I'll give you ten percent off. That way, I have work for my employees in the off season. One third down when the materials are delivered, one third when the posts are up and the last when the wire is up. He got hired. Sure enough, he showed up January 3rd and did the work.
    Completely agree....except for the 10% off part

    I am a small outfit (me and my son), and I'm currently booked into next year. I'm very upfront with people about scheduling. Honesty works very well, and those interested in high quality work are willing to wait for it.

    As far as poor quality work goes, it's easy to go to the pawn shop and buy a miter saw, compressor, and nail gun, then go advertise yourself as a trim carpenter. You have no idea how many times I've seen crown moulding installed upside down.

    When it comes to no-shows and having difficulty finding contractors to show up and look at a job, most are busy trying to get and keep work with GC's and don't want to run around from house to house bidding small jobs for homeowners. I realize it's probably different in tree trimming and lawn care.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
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    2,591
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bender View Post
    When it comes to no-shows and having difficulty finding contractors to show up and look at a job, most are busy trying to get and keep work with GC's and don't want to run around from house to house bidding small jobs for homeowners.
    You'd think most subs would prioritize the GCs over individual homeowners. If one of our subs told me they put one-time jobs ahead of ours, I would have fired them. Yet here, that obvious fact doesn't seem to ring true. One neighbor down the street waited for three months to get their roof done. The couldn't drywall until the roof was loaded. The builder told them their roofers are busy doing Irma repairs for homeowners. Our next door neighbor, who are builders, have been ready for the roof for over a month. Same deal.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

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