Sometimes The Small Things Go a Long Way. How Your Construction Business Can Succeed Decades Later.

Sometimes The Small Things Go a Long Way. How Your Construction Business Can Succeed Decades Later.

photo credit: stavos via photopin cc

Every businessman and businesswoman has their own methods for running their business.

For some, speed is the key. Get a job, complete it, get paid. End of story.

Others take more time, interact with the customers and complete a more well-rounded job. There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you keep booking jobs, you are probably on to something.

I recently started a new job with a contractor who waterproofs leaky old homes (and many new builds that were poorly constructed).

I have been watching my new boss with a keen eye, watching what he deems most important to his business.

There are several things I have witnessed which make me understand why he has lasted 20+ years in the industry.

Cleanliness. Yes, we are digging up your yard, driveway, window wells etc. and jack hammering concrete in your basement to make a sump pump pit, but that doesn’t mean it has to be messy. We used 4×8’ plywood so the dirt we dig doesn’t just become part of your lawn and we use the same plywood to make paths for the excavator to prevent treads from occurring in your lawn. We also clean up/sweep up our messes and fold up carpets indoors when we can to prevent them from getting stained.

As a side note, please don’t ask contractors to take off their safety boots to come into your home. They are called safety boots for a reason. If you are worries about a mess, lay down some old towels, a bed sheet or newspaper.

Be friendly. Talk to your customers. Yes sometimes having the customer hover over your work for the whole day is annoying but sometimes they just want to talk and sometimes they are genuinely interested in the work. Yes you can make it in business and not be a people-person, but it is harder.

Trust. My coworker and I started on the job just a few days apart. And yet a week into the job, we are driving the company truck, picking up supplies and he trusts us enough to continue the work while he is away giving quotes to get more work. Yes, you can get burned sometimes with over trusting but he is a boss, not a babysitter and his company is better for it. He has told us, if we weren’t capable, we wouldn’t be working for him.

Be prepared to work past other companies reputations. Sometimes contractors get bad reputations. In the past three months, I’ve dealt with a half-dozen or more. Some have left me so frustrated I have gone out of my way to tell people not to hire them. There was the electrician down the street that never showed up, told me he’d been to the house but then told me he’d called and left me several messages looking for my address. Sounded fishy to me too!

My furnace company, for three separate service calls — an installation, repair and new gas line installation – has yet to show up on the day they scheduled. How you can do that and expect third and fourth chances to keep existing customers is beyond me.

But other contractors, like my roofers, were excellent in their workmanship. They cleaned up after themselves and their work, and even took away other scrap building materials that were destined for my next dump run. My wife getting called six times a day for a week looking for a payment starting the day after the job was done wasn’t quite so cool. But there was a slight misunderstanding regarding the difference between a quote (that we were given weeks before) and a final bill that we were never given. Still, the positive outweighs the negative and I would recommend the roofers over any one else that’s worked on my house so far.

So keep that in mind when you are working for someone else in or on their home.

And as my boss said to me last week, “We might do the best job they’ve even seen but if we leave gravel on their lawn and the driveway is a mess of uneven dirt when we leave, that is what the customer will remember. So go get those stones of the lawn now please!”


  1. Johnny
  2. Jack White

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