by Jim Mastin Sr

Most of you cannot remember the days when the milkman delivered our milk on our doorstep at 4:00 in the morning.  You would get up at 7:00 or so, open the door, and there it would be, several quart bottles of semi-cold milk on the doorstep. You would use the milk over the next few days, wash the bottles, and set them back out to be picked up. Never seeing this mysterious person that replaced them with full bottles in the early morning hours.

But, the thing we remember the most, was having to shake them so much before using them. It was in the days before pasteurizing and the top few inches would be cream that had to be mixed with the milk before you used it. Or, poured off and used for cream and the rest for skim milk. Either way, it was disgusting to children to see those small bits of cream floating on your milk after shaking.

And, if you didn’t use it all in a short amount of time, you would have to do the shaking routine again, because the cream would once again separate and rise to the top.

But, there was an important lesson to be learned for those experiences.  No matter how much you shook the milk, after letting it sit for a while, the cream would once again separate itself and rise to the top – always!

Still true today.  There is a lot of plain milk out there in the contracting industry, and there is also some cream around. I hear you guys that say you are the “cream” fussing about the plain milk guys taking the jobs because they charge less but are not licensed, insured, or members of a certain contractor group.

While we can all understand the frustration, there isn’t much we can do about the free lance guy that runs around doing inferior work.  They have always been there and always will.   But, we can “let the cream rise to the top”.

Here are some tips to make sure you are the “cream of the crop”.

1. Be professional in all you do.  Dress, talk and act like a professional in your dealing with customers, from the initial contact to receiving your final payment. You represent yourself, your family, and your profession.  Serve them well.

2. Be on time for appointments. From the first appointment to go over the scope of the project, the appointment to present your proposal, and the time you said you would show up to start the project, should all be on time. This is important to the customer. (Many of the “milk” guys won’t do this)

3.  Charge fair prices.  Can you charge more than the inferior milk guy? Sure, just make sure your customer knows the advantages you are bringing to the table, such as professional workers, insurance, proper licenses for the job,  a list of references, and photos of previous work done.  But, don’t over charge just because you can get away with it with this customer. Because you don’t.  Eventually they find out you charged too much and your reputation will be at stake.

4.  Treat your customers with respect. They aren’t just a cash cow for you to milk for money. They are real people, people with bills to pay just like us. They may live in in a big house, drive a big car, but most still are spending all they make and have to watch their dollars too.  Then, many customers will be people who have been saving up for a long time to make these modifications to their home. They are making a sacrifice by hiring you or your company to make their improvements. Others will borrow money for the project and pay it back for five or ten years. It’s a big deal to them, and they deserve respect and appreciation.  (The plain milk guy might not do that either)

5.  Follow up with the customer after a few weeks to be sure they are satisfied.  You say, “that might open up a can of worms”.  If you are worried about that, maybe you should reevaluate your quality of work.  Good customer service is still good!  A lot of things change in the business world, but good customer service remains as a top priority.

6.  Become certified or pre-screened by a referral company if you can. The typical “plain milk guy” probably won’t do that or may not qualify. Our new company starting up will offer that service for our contractor base.  Here’s a couple of short videos you can watch that tells you about that service.

PreferredContractor – Contractor Certification

Preferred Contractor Job Finder.wmv

7.  Take good care of those who work with or for you.  They are people too!

OK, keep up the good work and I’ll see you at the top – where the cream is!



  1. Jim, these are great practical tips that do, indeed “separate” the best from the rest.

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