I don’t ever want to be the customer a contractor would rather not deal with, whose money they would rather not take because of the headaches I might create or the price slashing I might demand. You all know the kind of client I’m talking about. I was that guy—once, years ago—and I’ve always felt bad about what I put that contractor through. Not since and never again will I be like that.
Many of you have been placed in the position of having to consider working for “that guy” in recent years—because when potential clients aren’t lining up at your door you must answer it when you hear someone knocking. The difficult decision isn’t whether to answer the door; it’s whether you accept business from the person on the other side.
While you’re “dating” the client(s), it’s time to assume the role of psychiatrist and begin judging these people by asking yourself several questions:
- Do I like this person?
- Can I tolerate this person?
- Can my crew tolerate this person?
- Will this person erode my profit margin with crazy demands?
- Does this person show signs of having abused other remodelers?
The list of judgmental questions goes on. It’s unavoidable and necessary, and eventually the nature of the questions changes to:
- Can I afford to not take this job?
- When will the next job opportunity come knocking?
- Can I manage this person well enough to work nicely together?
- Is there anything I can do to minimize the stress on my crew?
Ultimately, your decision to work with a problem client boils down to this: You get whom you’re paid by. What I mean is, if you’ve asked yourself the previous questions, then you know what you’re getting into. If it’s a bad situation, you at least can prepare for the consequences. Many of you might already be accepting work from homeowners you: a) would never have done work for in the past, or b) have actually refused to work for in the past. And this is OK.
Whatever your decision, make sure you’ve invested plenty of thought in the process. If you find yourself struggling to decide from whom to accept business and whom to reject, consider the approaches taken by several Cincinnati remodelers Qualified Remodeler talked to.
The article on page 22 shares insights from four of your peers struggling with the questions above and the ultimate decisions. These remodelers pick potential clients’ brains by asking about their hobbies; making mental notes about their lifestyles, such as if the person appears to be a hoarder; and observing how the person treats his or her spouse or children. There’s a lot of emotion and psychology involved, and these remodelers might shed new light on how to make these difficult decisions.
A Farewell and Sincere Thanks
Remodeling industry advocate, leader and colleague to many of us, Mike Weiss, has written his final column for Qualified Remodeler, which begins on page 18 as a special two-page finale. After six years of entertaining, advising and helping thousands of remodelers in the pages of this magazine, he is moving on to other projects. Thank you, Mike, for sharing your wisdom and insight with the industry. We wish you success as you move forward.