Friday, October 30, 2009

Why would anyone pay those crazy contractor prices?

Every once in a while I get a prospect who fights me every step of the way during the sales process and they feel compelled to try and control every aspect of the meeting. Although they pretty much never say it to my face, I know there have been many lost prospects who end up muttering something to the effect of "Why would anyone pay those crazy contractor prices?" or "He's not going to make any money on MY project". The truth is, if they had become my client I undoubtedly would have lost money with that attitude. Our best and happiest clients are the ones who allow me to do my job and utilize my 20 plus years of experience to help them make their project run smoothly and with the least amount of headaches. All projects are going to have something not work perfectly.

Two weeks ago I was starting demo on a bathroom project and on day two I did a quick survey of the existing conditions. My eye caught what looked like a toilet flange that was further away from the wall than normal. My Stanley 25 footer confirmed my suspicions because instead of it being 12" off the wall it was 14" off the wall. The clients had already ordered the plumbing fixtures so we had to intervene and swap out the Toto low flow toilet with a specially sized one. Because we were in charge of the scheduling and things had to be completed by a certain date there was no allowance for any delays. To make a long story short, we discovered the problem early enough, corrected the fixture order and proceeded to finish with no delays. Had the client been trusted to handle the project it would have messed up the plumbing which would have impacted the painting and then the electricians would have been bumped a few days. I am guessing it could have delayed the job by atleast 1 week if they were lucky enough to get all the subs back. This is one really small example of why it pays to have a progessional remodeler on your side running the project. Not to mention the free trip to the supply house because they gave us the wrong toilet seat. We like to think of this as "spoiling" our clients without them knowing it. Needless to say the young boys were able to take a bath on the night I promised them the week before.

One other issue with the toilet was that since the door was so close to hitting the toilet we had to plan it just right with the proper sized toilet to clear the door when it opens. With a little double checking I found just the right toilet and little did I know it would be so close. The plumber called me up to tell me we could barely fit a credit card between the edge of the toilet and the door. Good planning or too close for comfort?

When someone asks me why they should pay a contractor to manage a job I have dozens of similar examples to share with them. It doesn't always win me the job but I leave feeling comfortable knowing that I will sleep good that night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spoil the crap out of your clients

Who doesn't like to be spoiled? There is something nice about knowing someone went out of their way to treat you extra special whether it be in a personal or business relationship. Being an only child I guess you can say I was constantly being spoiled with love and attention where I felt like the only person in the world. Sound familiar?

I remember a story my parents told me when I went to college. Once I moved off to college in September they moved to another small town about 15 miles North (and, yes, I found them). Less than two months later as they were handing out Halloween candy to the neighborhood children they noticed a slight sense of disappointment when the kids watched the bite sized candy bars fall into their pillow cases and plastic pumpkins. What my parents failed to realize was that these kids had photographic memories and they were spoiled by the previous owner's frivolous candy-giving ways. What he did was hand out full-sized Snickers bars and he soon became the neighborhood hero. I think they even had kids showing up in minivans from 5 towns over just to get some goodies. Over the years the word surely spread about how generous this guy was so when mom and pop doled out puny candies it ushered in a new era. The previous owner spoiled the crap out of the kids and they kept coming back for more. He was memorable. I feel bad for my parents as they must have been horrified.

In my construction business one of the big keys to my success has been to spoil the crap out of my clients so they keep coming back for more. We continually seek to go out of our way to spoil them so they won't forget us. It might start during the first meeting when I bring in the newspaper instead of driving over it. The site crews extend this spoiling as they lay down excessive floor protection to keep the clients' floors from being damaged. We have a hundred little tricks that have become habit and they all help create lasting clients. If you own a business I would suggest you start to find some of these tricks of your own that help set yourself apart from the competition. Sometimes it is the smallest things that make people remember you. An example is when we go to a client's home we usually try and find a door that is sticking and fix it. It is amazing how many homes have sticky doors and after a while they don't even notice it. After we explain that we fixed it at no charge they are so thankful. In fact I have received several referrals that I directly attribute to this trick. Go out of your way to give the clients more than they paid for and you will be rewarded with lifetime clients. After 13 years in business I am finding a larger and larger percentage of our clients are repeats. This is one of my rewards as a construction business owner. Don't forget to Spoil the Crap out of your Clients!