This is a fictional letter that comes from many conversations with Building Owners, Developers and other buyers of construction services. I have encapsulated many points here that I have said over the years to these purchasers. As a management consultant to construction contractors, I am asked several times a month about quality contractors I might know. Here are my wishes and the wishes of dozens of my clients when dealing with consumers, developers, building owners and the like.
You called me today looking for a reputable construction contractor to do some work for you. You contacted me since you know I deal with and know several quality firms.
You are right to call me as I do know people who I would want to work on my home and other construction projects. They are very good and honorable in what they do. However, before I give to you a name of someone let me tell you how I want you to approach this:
Don’t jerk these people around. They are busy. They are not desperate for business.
Tell them yes or no on their price or proposal. Don’t have them keep a slot open for you over an extended period of time.
Have a budget already set aside. If you want a budget number, get someone else to give you a free estimate so you may go to your bank, board of directors or spouse for approval.
Know what you want. The contractors I work with are like you, they don’t want change orders. They hate delayed decisions. Be organized about your project before it starts. If you are undecided in your project design, this costs them money for which they can never bill you enough. It slows down their financial process. That is important to remember because the primary reason that these companies are in business is not for fame or prestige. The owners want to be financially independent when they retire.
Don’t shop the price. They are giving you a market price from the specifications you have given to them. These contractors deal with organized and professional people who value their craftsmanship. Again, they are busy.
Use tried and true products. The worst disasters and fights have occurred when a new unproven product was designed into a project. These contractors are good for any problem on their jobs but, it is frustrating when this happens. They may tell you “pass” about bidding your project. It is not personal. Contractors never get paid backcharge reimbursement from manufacturers for products that should still be in “beta” testing. No one ever walks away happy from these situations
Pay them. Be timely and pay them in full at end. They bill and expect to get paid. They are good at what they do and guarantee their work. So, pay them.
These contractors have worked in this business for many years and have met a payroll during a recession. They have paid for mistakes that weren’t theirs and been trustworthy and honest in their dealings. In other words, they have earned the right to be treated as you should treat any business: fairly.
If you violate any of these wishes, I will certainly not be available to help in the future. These are friends of mine. Even if they weren’t friends of mine, I respect them and so should you.
For more information, purchase a copy of my McGraw-Hill book, Managing a Construction Firm on Just 24 Hours a Day. We offer a bundle with Excel templates that are featured in the book to help assist in making financial, estimating and project management decisions.
Matt Stevens is President of Stevens Construction Institute, Inc. A management consulting firm which works only with construction contractors. Learn more at www.stevensci.com