In today’s housing market being as tight as it is, people are not only having the challenge of finding a house they can afford to purchase, there are those who are trying to sell their homes by finding a contractor that they can count on, trust, as well as afford. Recently going through the challenge, myself with a small rental property, I do understand not only the opportunities that are presented but also the amount of patience that is involved.
- Responding back after an initial inquiry. Yes, there are several sites, Home Advisor being one of the more popular ones, for which there are people will submit their information and get a variety of quotes. There’s also the option of just simply Googling for someone if they have a web site or have their information posted somewhere. There were over 15 businesses I contacted and if I got a voicemail I never heard from them at all, and a few times I spoke with someone but they never responded back. Yes, there are no rules in the State of Texas on calling yourself a contractor, so in the end what helped was a referral from a client who led me to Kenneth.
- Time has a value of for everyone. When I meet a client at their place of business, I confirm with an email to them not only the date/time but also their address so I have something to follow up on if they miss the appointment or the information they gave me was incorrect. This way if they state that they didn’t know about it I have something to reference back to. Yes, everyone can’t always keep a scheduled appointment, but time is something none of us can ever get back and when people who you are hoping to give work to don’t bother showing up or even following up afterwards, it can hurt your reputation to potential other customers.
- Never do I quote a new client verbally. What it’s going to cost to fix their books, prepare their taxes, etc. because until I look at the entire picture, I can’t begin estimating the amount of cost. One contractor told me from eyeballing the m rental property after 15 minutes, for one amount they could make it look “nice” and for an additional 50% of that original amount they quoted they could make it look “really nice.” Mind you there was never any paperwork on what they were going to do – just the word “nice” was supposed to explain everything to me.
- Paperwork is key to everything. If I’m making a payment on something, I need a receipt of some kind and it’s not difficult to give one because working with the IRS for so many years, it’s all about the documentation. If I’m invoicing a client, they make a payment, then I’m copying the information on how they’re paying me. If you’re receiving several payments, make a note of it and update their estimate or invoice which you give them until the job is completed. Whatever software you use, including QuickBooks®, no-one feels short-changed and everyone is aware of the situation for what’s left and what’s been already completed.
- Learn to use the internet and your cell phone for texting. It’s 2019, and I texted a potential contractor with an answer he left a voice mail for me, so I had some documentation so there was no question on what my response was. When I didn’t hear back from them, I called them back a few days later and asked why they didn’t respond back and they said, “I don’t know how to respond to texts” and then hung up.
Every industry has its share of good and not so good businesses, and a simple “this doesn’t fit my business” goes a lot farther than looking like you’re better than that potential client for not wanting to work with them. GHBA (Greater Houston Builders Association) carries a lot of clout, like other large contractor groups, because education and recognition make a world of difference when not only marketing your business clients but also teaching people how to work with those clients when you reach an agreement.
It seems like it’s so simple to just say to every business owner that comes my way is a good fit, and I’m up front with them explaining that I’m not the cheapest, nor the most expensive, nor do I serve every industry. I also tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.
Dwayne J. Briscoe