Bringing Professionalism Back To Contracting


I don’t know about you, but being a professional in every aspect of your contracting business is so important today.  You must not overlook anything.

Your company vehicle. For the small independent, you must attempt to obtain a newer vehicle sooner or later.  People will look at what kind of vehicle you drive up to their house.  If your ride is leaking oil, get all those leaks repaired.  If your truck is noisy, get the muffler fixed.  And if it is rusted, get the rust patched and painted.  Photo:

First impressions go a long way.  I wouldn’t hire a guy if he pulled up in a beat up old truck.  That’s the general view held by many homeowners.  Folks want to see a washed and clean vehicle parked at their house.  You would be surprised at why homeowners notice this.  They want a pro for bragging rights — they hired a company with pretty white trucks in their driveway.

ProPlayer StadiumNeighbors talk and chitter-chatter with each other.  “Look at Sarah over there with that gawd-awful truck in the driveway.  She must not be able to afford a reputable contractor!”  Customers feel nervous when a beat up truck is parked in their neighborhood.  You’d be surprised at what people notice.  “Are those guys in that beat-up pick-up truck there to rob somebody?  Are they casing our neighborhood for a victim?” some will think.

I’ve heard of homeowners calling the police when a suspicious vehicle is parked on the street for just a small amount of time.  Especially if there is more than one guy in the truck.  On the flip-side, a clean, newer vehicle would not garner a second look.  Perception is the key.

I suggest if you can’t afford a newer vehicle yet, please go to the car wash and beam your vehicle.  Put armor-all on the tires!  And above that, organize the inside and clean the seats, just in case the homeowner wants to do an inspection!  The way you take care of your ride and how you keep your tools in top working order speaks volumes of your professionalism.

Uniforms. Some contractors say, “I work everyday and get dirty, therefore I wear the same clothes day in and day out.  What’s the purpose of having clean work gear for everyday?”  That answer is simple.  You are meeting with different people everyday.  They don’t know where you’ve been and could care less.  All they know is that you’d better show up for the interview on time and be dressed neatly, or they are showing you the door.

I work the service side of home improvement so I keep no less than four clean shirts in my van and I suggest you should too.  There are unexpected occurrences we deal with everyday — related to dust, dirt, and spilled liquids.  It’s easy to get dirty.  Fast.

Some guys prefer custom printed-T shirts and jeans.  That’s fine but I prefer regular white dress shirts with collars and pockets, with an embroidered name tag/company logo on them, plus khakis and clean shoes.  To each his own, just make sure you are clean.

Hygiene. If you are a heavy sweater, keep plenty of face cloths and perhaps deodorant with you.  Cologne is a matter of choice; I choose not — because all it will smell like to the homeowner is funk! on top of cologne.  Showers are a must before work and after work; we don’t want to spread lead dust to the kiddies at home do we?

“…The funk..The whole funk. Nuthin’ but the funk..”

George Clinton P-FunkPhoto:

Even if you are used to your on body smells, other people are not.  This means that while you may think you don’t smell, they may certainly pick up on your new smell that entered their residence.  It is similar to your own house smell.  Remember going to somebody else’s home?  You’ll say, “What the heckler was that smell in there?”  The people that live there are clueless to it.

Keep the teeth brushed and chewing gum on your person for emergency breath containment.  Try to quit smoking, too.  When attempting to get hired by a non-smoking homeowner, this could be a turn off, and many contractors have been shown the door, never to return for this reason alone.  It goes without saying that alcohol should never be on your breath during working hours.  If it is, you have a drinking problem.

Some guys will say, “But I didn’t drink today!  That was last night!”  To that, I’d have to determine that they have a LARGE drinking problem.  I’m not sure I’d even want someone representing my company like that.

Communication. If the water needs to be shut-off or a circuit needs to be interrupted while working, inform the homeowners.  You’d be surprised that basic communication is sometimes overlooked.  If you are running late or can’t make it that day, just call them and let them know.  The homeowners also appreciate it when you communicate the steps and procedures for their project in full detail.

Let the homeowners know that you’ve got them covered and will keep their best interests in mind.  Keeping them abreast of potential problems that could exist during your relationship with them goes a long way.  Answer the phone when it rings.  These common things are often overlooked, but they add value to the total experience with the client.  Transparency is the buzz word today in the wonderful world of contracting.

Skill sets and paperwork. You’ve gotta shine as far as skills go.  I always try to go above and beyond of what is required.  You should too.  Show the homeowner why you earn what you earn.  This plays are large part of getting future work from them, or getting recommended to their friends and family.  We all know what the holy grail of contracting is — The Referral.

When you get referred, some great things come into play:

  1. You are almost guaranteed the referee’s project.
  2. Prices you charge becomes less of an issue.
  3. The prospect is anticipating the same great service you gave to your previous client.

It goes without saying that the more professional credentials and related paperwork you hold: licensing, insurance, RRP certification, referrals, job photos, etc., further cements the notion that you are the Contractor for their future project.  You brought it all to the table:  You’re too legit to quit!  Good luck.

“Go Hammer, go Hammer, go!”



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