By Jim Mastin Sr

I was surfing the web recently to see
if I could find out the general feelings customers have for contractors.  It was kind of revealing. It seems someone
has been out there trashing the good reputation of contractors. Or, maybe it was some contractors doing the trashing.

The stories are numerous, like the guy that ruined their carpet with dirty shoes; the one that didn’t finish the job; the one that ran through their new sodded yard with his pickup on a raining day; or the one that the customer could never get a hold of after giving the deposit check. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

So, what are some common things we as contractors can do to move us up the scale?

1. Do you show up on time to go over the job with the customer?

2. Do you breakdown your cost estimate to the extent the customer wants you to? It relieves the customer you are hiding something. (You aren’t, are you?)

3. Are you prepared to give the customer some references – typed up and ready if they ask?

4. If they ask if you have insurance, are you prepared to answer them?

5. Do you ask for them to pay for the whole job up front?  Doesn’t fly!

6. If you are required to have a license, do you? Can the customer see it if they ask to?

7. Do you use a detailed contract? Even for a relatively small job it keeps things cleaner.

8. Do you clean up after yourself?

9. Do you keep your vehicle in reasonably decent condition?

10. Are you courteous and don’t smoke or swear in the customer’s house?

11. Do you do quality work, or cut corners when you can?

12. Do you use the best material for the job, or inferior products because their cheaper?

13. Do you have “clean” business cards to leave for the customer to give to their friends?

So, on a scale of 1 to 10, “How good a contractor are you?”



  1. These are all good examples of what every contractor should or shouldn’t do. In addition, going back to the point about trashing contractors, not only am I an electrical contractor, but in many situations I am a consumer, customer client, homeowner, and vendor. The last thing I want to here from someone that I am doing business with is that person trash talking another contractor, competitor or employer. This is always bad business. A bad contractor will always show their work and character without any help from us.

  2. Francisco oliveira

    Hey guys, up here in Canada there’s a guy on TV, that he makes a good living trashing others contractors, his name is Mike Holmes, I watch his show, and I see there’s a lot of bad contractors out there, but some times I had a feeling the home owner is to blame.

  3. In reply to Francisco Oliveira – I do the same type of work here in the states or at least a good deal of business is the same as Mike Holmes. I had not heard of him until a Customer mentioned his name & TV show to me, followed by me then watching it. If you would allow me to explain something here, as it affects all of us in many ways.
    First, I never use a contractor’s name when I correct botched work, so I don’t bash other Contractors. I will at times use their work, (if can be called that) to help to educate Homeowners when trying to select a Contractor. Homeowners are to blame for not doing enough Homework or going for the lowest price when trying to have work or a project completed, but that is it.
    We all buy from the same lumber yards, hire from the same work force, etc & have to remain competitive. Estimates should all be, (in my opinion), within 15% of each. What makes the bit of difference should only be overhead we each have. I tell Homeowners if estimates are over 25% difference, drop that person asap. If he has decent references & wish to, ask him/her to reveiw their estimate to ensure they did not miss anything & go from there.
    In the short of things, if any one of us accept a job that ends up a mess, no it is not the Homeowner’s fault in any way.
    Why? A good reason is we have to go to sleep at night, we either allowed our employees to waste money, did not check on the work they performed, we should not have accepted the job if it was beyond our experience or there was not enough money to properly perfrom the work.
    We have more responsibility than the Homeowner does, because “we” are suppose to be the professional.
    If we accept a job we know cannot be completed for a fix amount of money that has been set, then we are 100% at fault & should be held liable.

  4. People are who they are, Homeowners & Contractors alike, good or bad, each are who they are. I believe most Homeowners just want a good, honest, reliable Contractor who will do as he/she says, for the price he/she says. The reason for being in business is to earn a decent living & make a profit. To many Contractors try to hide the fact they are here to make a profit for the work they do. Try to hide that fact & there is dishonesty from the start, that throws up a red flag to a potential client from the start.
    Within the first 10 minutes speaking to a Homeowner should be enough to let you know to proceed or submit a high bid to politely say, no thanks.
    Treat a Customer & their home as you would like to have someone you are paying your hard earnt money to treat your home & family.
    Brand new, high end 4×4’s, custom made ladder racks, shiny tools with the outline of the price sticker, non of which have ever impressed any Homeowner that I have met. Especially if one shows up to meet the Homeowner with their new ski boat in tow. Speaking with & hearing what Homeowners have to say during your daily travels will fill a section of your tool box with valuable tools that will take any Contractor a long ways in a slow economy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s