You can never improve unless you hear others’ opinions about you. Constructive criticism is something you should always welcome and consider. Episode 58 of “The Construction Life” welcomes an amazing couple “Cesar and Marie,” who share their perception, expectations, and experiences with contractors.
The couple was understanding and open when it comes to discussions, and communications. They think contractors are rare species, who work hard to get the job done. Here are some key details of the show that will help you understand the perspective of a general client!
Contractors say “No” to Smaller Jobs
An issue that frustrates the clients is that the contractors always try to avoid the smaller jobs. For example, sometimes clients need to get their fence done, but contractors, especially good ones, are not ready to take up small jobs. Even if they find someone to do smaller jobs, they will charge more money for the work.
Open to Ideas or Not?
The couple seems to be the new face of clientage, people who are open to ideas, those who want to accept reality. Contractors should realize that no one knows about their business than themselves. If a client presents them a budget or an idea, they should help them out by presenting them with their ideas, telling them what they should expect in their stated budget, and what amount they should be quoting for the work they need. Marie explains how the price they estimated is almost lower than the actual cost.
All about Timing
Cesar and Marie were asked about the timing issues they had with contractors. They told how they sense the seriousness of the contractors on the basis of their punctuality and how they give time to the work. They prefer clients who come on time, instead of contractors who come in the evening and work till late night. They also don’t prefer contractors who work on weekends, because they are juggling the jobs madly.
The couple was also asked about their choice between a contractor who will complete the work in six months, or the contractor who will complete the work in 2 weeks but will start it in 4 months. The couple replied that they will prefer a contractor who will be less messy and will complete the job in minimal time, instead of expanding the work over the span of six months and working 1-2 hours a day.
Digital Word of Mouth
As social media is advancing, many contractors are getting work online and thus they host named the referral system as digital word of mouth. Though Marie and Cesar believe in digital word of mouth, they think that positive word of mouth from a family or friend is more meaningful. Because no one can see a contractor’s attitude online, nor you can see what is going on behind the scenes.
They were also asked if they will provide a referral for the contractors they worked with and will they allow people visiting their homes to see the contractor’s work. Marie didn’t seem comfortable with the idea of strangers entering her home for a visit. Cesar, however, says that it depends on the type of relationship they had with the contractor. They are willing to provide pictures of the work and also give referrals on a phone call.
Which Quote not to Choose?
Another important issue was discussed that is helpful for the clients while choosing a contractor. Quoting the same example. If you got three quotes, the same quality contractors will offer the quote with a difference of say 10-15%. If you get quotes of 9000, 10,000, 11000, 16000, 6000. You should doubt the odd quote (16,000 and 6,000) and choose from the three quotes that are similar (9000,10000,11000).
First Impression Matters!
The couple shares how they would of course prefer someone with at least 10 to 15 years of experience, but you cannot underestimate the talent of the younger generation too. Sometimes clients reject a contractor just because of their attitude, walking, talking style because it shows their seriousness and commitment towards their work.
The podcast also highlighted an incident, where the client wanted the contractor to come back clean if he wants to take on the project. Though one should not judge a book by its cover, first impression matters!
Avoid Extreme Makeovers
Renovations require big budgets and a good time. Manny suggests that one should keep in mind the time span of 20 years and plan the renovation accordingly. Avoid going for extreme makeovers, go for customization, choose bold but safe colors, and so on.
Who is the decision-maker?
Marie says that she is the one having the idea of renovation, however, they make sure they take decisions together. Even if one of them is not available, they can call each other and make sure they both agree. It was also discussed how it is important that the communication stays between the contractor and one person, and how miscommunication can lead to problems. Contractors/clients should clear this in the beginning about who is going to be responsible for the communication and with whom.
Clients should also avoid instructing the workers directly when homeowners are not around, this can disrupt their work schedule.
The episode also discussed, how not just contractors take advantage of the customers, by taking the amount in advance, charging them more, etc., but clients also take advantage of the contractors by not paying them the full amount. As soon as the work is done, they start finding the mistakes, and say that instead of the agreed final payment (let’s say 10,000), we’ll pay you what you deserve ($1000).
To protect yourself from such issues, get into detailed contracts. Just as Carlito mentioned how he has a 14-page contract, which not just protects him but also protects the clients.
The couple was also questioned about their perception/idea of prices, wages, for several projects/jobs. The answers are interesting and give us a deep insight into how sometimes clients can be right but most of the time they might need to get informed/educated by the contractors who are actually in the business. Do listen to the episode to understand the views of the other side. Also, you don’t want to miss the opening song!