There are actually many things that I see contractors do that hurt their business. When times were great and there were more jobs to do than most contractors could handle, a contractor could still keep food on their table even if they did some things that hurt their business. That is no longer the case and that will not be the case in the future. This economy will get stronger but it will not be the same as it was. Things won’t go back the way they were. The days of running a successful but sloppy business are over. Customers will expect more from now on. If we don’t give it to them, then someone else will.
The first business busting mistake that I see contractors make is that they don’t show up on time. Sometimes they don’t show up at all or they don’t get back with the customer after the initial contact. I’ve heard it from many customers. They called a contractor to give them an estimate and the contractor either didn’t show up or he came to look at the job and then didn’t get back with the customer after he looked at the job. I also have seen many times when a contractor will show up late for an appointment and are surprised that there is a problem. If you are going to be late, it is only common courtesy to call the customer and let them know. People really do judge a book by it’s cover and how punctual we are when we are scheduled to meet with a customer often determines what the customer thinks about our character and dependability. So, if we are to run a successful business, we need to make sure that we do what we say when we say we are going to do it.
The second mistake I see many contractors do is to do less than an excellent job. Many times employees will do a so-so job, because it was difficult to do it right. If we as contractors let them get by with this, it will hurt our business and our incomes. As I tell my employees, “People don’t hire us to do a half right job and then make excuses for it, they hire us to do the job right. If we don’t do it, they will find someone who will.” We are ultimately responsible to have the job done with excellent standards. If we always do an excellent job, people will refer us to their friends and call us back for more work. If we do an all right job, we may not have to do it over, but we will not get the referral and repeat business that we need. It really doesn’t take much more effort to do an excellent job.
The third mistake that I see contractors make is that they won’t cheerfully go back and take care of their mistakes. No one does perfect work all of the time, but if we correct our mistakes, it will go a long way toward building lasting relationships with our customers. I remember one job that we did and the siding was spaced differently than the customer wanted. We went back and redid it with no questions asked. Later, that customer sent us more work. He told me that the reason he was not afraid to send me more work, was because we corrected his job with no arguing. It may cost us a little time and money to correct our mistakes, but it can pay off big dividends in future work.
As I mentioned, these are not the only mistakes I see contractors make, but if we correct these three mistakes, it will go a long way to making our business stronger and more profitable. In tough times we have to do whatever it takes to win customers and get referral business.