When I first set out to build a painting company, I wasn’t interested in being a normal contractor. I knew I needed some guideposts so I made a list of things all bad contractors do then I made it my mission not to do those things.
Most of them have absolutely nothing to do with the actual trade I’ve dedicated my life to – most are basic, common sense things anyone can do to ensure they’re a top performer in their field.
It’s worth noting that almost nothing listed below take above average intellect, a college degree, or any special skills. Here’s my list:
1. Correspond with overwhelming force. Many contractors don’t answer their phone or return calls.
2. Never reschedule an appointment unless it’s painful for you to do so. Contractors reschedule last minute.
3. 10 minutes early is right on time. Contractors are always late.
4. Don’t surprise the client. Don’t be the person who shows up in an unmarked rusty van, no uniform, etc. Always match the experience you provided over the phone.
5. Deliver what you promise. Most contractors over-promise and under-perform.
6. Always clean up after yourself. Contractors often leave more of a mess that when they started.
7. Gain the client’s trust – it’s the secret to all business. After all, we’re going to be in the client’s children’s bedroom all day. Who would you trust?
8. Be an expert. When you plumb the depths of contractors you rarely find someone who actually knows a lot about their life’s work.
9. Love your trade. Most contractors aren’t contractors by choice.
10. Do not ‘change order yourself into profitability.’ Contractors underbid to get the job then lean on the client after the project has started.
11. Be a business and have a system for making clients happy. Most contractors can barely do their trade let alone know how to create financial statements, calculate taxes, or navigate employment law.
12. Get face time. Most contractors despise having to go see a client for a free estimate. If someone is willing to invite you in their home to give you money, take them up on it!
13. Be a member of your community. Give back to those who trust you with their homes. Volunteer, be charitable, and be a friendly neighbor.
14. Be a decent human being. Follow the Golden Rule and remember that people don’t owe you anything.
Following these guidelines has given me and my business a strong reputation, not only for our quality of work but for our personable nature and our client care.
Always put yourself in the shoes of a potential client and ask yourself “what would you want from a contractor?” I’d say this list is a pretty good start.
Nick Slavik is the proprietor of the Nick Slavik Painting & Restoration Co. and the Host of a weekly live Facebook show called Ask a Painter Live. He’s been a tradesman for over 25 years, has won multiple national awards for his projects, was named PDCA’s 2018 Craftsman of the Year, and is a member of the This Old House family.