#TheContractorWhoCares Catchy tag line or business model?
What does it mean when I say I care about my clients? I feel a strong responsibility toward the people who call on me when they need a project done. I am committed to them, their home, their children, and even their pets. We address everything that is important to them before, during, and after the project. I maintain an open line of communication throughout the process to continue to nurture and grow the relationship. And I sincerely believe relationship is the key.
I think a relationship is a connection, whether it is between two potential mates, between family members or between the client and business owner. The relationship begins during the first call and grows or diminishes from there. Communication during the bidding process, communication through the selection of goods and services, and communication during/after the project is equally important. I do my best to provide the services which create the client’s dreams and do so without causing unnecessary stress or turmoil in their home.
To be transparent, some of my projects have not gone as planned. I have experienced upset clients and have dealt with untenable situations. The answer has been to work with my clients to the very end; always seeking a win-win solution which allows both me and the client to manage expectations or issues. I have done my best to remain caring and respectful of the client’s family, home and property throughout the process.
I think a contractor who genuinely cares for his clients will also strive to explain everything in the best detail possible. He will collect thorough information and will provide it to his clients in a timely manner. He will also address issues, conflict, and difficult situations directly and without delay. That is what “caring” means to me as a contractor.
I have always disliked the stigma that the word “contractor” carries. I am aware that many contractors have caused mistrust within my industry. I’m sure everyone has a story of a contractor who took advantage of them or of someone close to them. Many of my clients have told me those stories. I have walked into homes where the clients told me they had to fire the last contractor; or worse, how the contractor took their money for materials and never returned. I receive at least a dozen calls per year from people who tell me how bad contractors are and how the industry is full of crooks and liars.
Please understand that everyone who has the truck, the tool bag, and the time isn’t necessarily an experienced contractor. Research his or her background and demand that he or she provide all requested information. If the contractor is legitimate, this will take minimal time and effort to provide. If the contractor is illegitimate, you may never hear from him or her again.
Remember, it takes a significant amount of money to complete most projects and the least expensive bid is not always the best choice. Many of the contractors who end up on the news for theft use “lowest price bait” to reel homeowners in; they are lured into signing a piece of paper and handing over a deposit. After that, the homeowners never hear from these people again. Those are the crooks who create a bad name for all contractors.
Since the construction industry is very much like the Wild West, you should know that your city codes inspectors are the only “sheriffs” that homeowners have to keep any contractor “outlaws” in check. They require state licensing as well as bonding and insurance to perform work in the state of Tennessee (among others). The first thing a homeowner should require of any contractor is proof of licensing and insurance.
A good contractor will happily share his or her license, insurance and other information. This documentation costs them time, energy, and money to achieve and sets them apart from the rest of the “contractors” you may encounter.
Homeowners can verify a company’s licensing online at http://verify.tn.gov. After you verify the license, request proof of insurance with current dates. You can even ask the contractor to include you as an additionally insured party. This proves that the insurance is current and not in default. Calling the insurance company directly is also a good verification method.
Online reviews are good places to find positive and negative feedback about potential contractors from actual clients. Places such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and other construction review sites offer great insight into companies and individual contractors.
Of course, online reviews aren’t the only referral sources. Recommendations from your friends and neighbors should carry a lot of weight in your decision to hire a contractor as well. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to overcome the negative stigma of being a contractor by focusing on positive client interactions and by securing referrals from trusted sources. It’s been hard work trying to change the perception that all contractors are bad, but I continue to do my best.
After you have verified the potential contractor’s state licensing and current insurance, have read online reviews and have gotten personal recommendations from trusted sources, talk to him or her in person during an initial project consultation. If the contractors you interview do not seem sincere and genuinely concerned about your home and family, please consider hiring someone else.
“The Contractor Who Cares” means more to me than just a marketing hashtag or description. It’s how I run my business. It’s who I am.