By Jim Mastin Sr
Have you ever tried to land a contract for a home improvement job, only to be passed by and you could not figure out why? There seemed to be no reason you shouldn’t have gotten that project instead of the other guy. What is the difference in me and him that he got the job instead of me?
I have lived long enough to see a couple of generations of contractors and customers go by. I can tell you for sure, you can’t do business today like we did 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. The customer is a different breed than in the past. The information age changed all that for us.
For instance, if a home owner wants to make an improvement to their home, they don’t start by calling the local contractor and ask for ideas. Their first
contact is “Google”. They search the web and begin gathering information on cabinets, counter tops, appliances, flooring, etc.
We have passed the days when you as a contractor could walk in with a few samples of vinyl flooring and a ring of samples of Formica, and two cabinet doors to choose from. A customer with a laptop and some time can
learn more than the average contractor knew a few years ago. They will know about current products, current trends, and in some cases, pretty close to what costs should be, even before looking for a contractor to do the project.
The bar has been raised for the contractor, to meet the expectations of the customer. So, the contractor needs to prepare themselves to meet the challenge. So, how do you do that? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Stay on the cutting edge of your trade. Know all you can about the
evolving process in your work. Whether you are in landscaping and need to know
the latest weed killer or a roofer that needs to be an expert on the many
different types of roof coverings available today. Read trade magazines. Search the web. Be a part of contractor forums and see what’s going on. Go to home shows in your area and visit the booths in your trade venue to see what’s going on.
2. Present yourself well. Contractors of the past were “good ole boys”
and got along fine. Today we deal with a younger home owner who is more
business savvy and expects first class service. They want to get it done, done right, and done as soon as possible. They want an agreement in writing that
resembles an actual contract.
3. Join a lead referral service that offers pre-certification for their contractors.
This will throw a great deal of weight your direction as far as credibility. http://PreferredContractor.com is one such company.
4. Have the required license for your trade and make it available to the customer.
5. Have a printed list of previous customers they can contact for a referral.
Better yet, have a short paragraph from several of them on the same
6. Have a copy of your insurance policy for the customer to look over if they wish.
7. So, which one of these did the “other guy” have that you don’t have that got them the job? The answer is to be as prepared in every possible area to present yourself as a reputable, reliable, honest, trustworthy, qualified, and fair contractor.
Good luck becoming “the other guy”.