How many times have we come across the situation where your customer asks for additional work and you are happy and willing to provide it? Customer is thinking “He is going to do that for me for free” and you are thinking “Great! Additional income”. Nobody says anything else until the work is done. When you go to collect your rightfully earned money the customer balks. What was a great relationship is now in jeopardy. Suddenly they are finding fault with other aspects of your work in an effort to bolster their cause. It spirals down from there ending up in small claims court or the Contractor’s State Licensing Board. Maybe you just cave in and don’t get your earnings.
Sound familiar? At the least you are going to come out of there with a customer giving you a bad underserved reputation. Any town IS a small town!
What could you have done better?
Try this on for size:
Sally Customer: “Hey Joe, I was thinking of having you enlarge this room for me in addition to the rest of the work you are doing.”
Joe Contractor: “Sure Sally I would be happy to do that for you! Since it is additional work I would have to charge you a bit more.”
Sally: “Oh? How much more?”
Joe: “Well I am not sure Sally. Since I am already here I will give you a good price. Let me figure up something fair and I will write up a work change authorization. If you like it we can sign it and I will start on the changes right away.”
Ok, I know it sounds kind of cheesy and I know you are not stupid. But, for some reason I hear this kind of thing over and over again when it comes to Contractor/Customer arbitration. You have to admit that there is a trend in this industry that shows you may be the BEST contractor but not the best communicator.
Everybody thinks that the other party is thinking the same thing they are. Well they are NOT! Simple things that make a difference are a necessity. ANY changes should be put in writing that protects both you and the customer. Have the forms (available from http://www.nebs.com) in your truck, ready to go and fill them out immediately while the customer is hot on the thought of more work. Both parties need to know what to expect from the other. Both of you will be more secure. Both of you will be happy at the end of the job. That translates to referrals………..good ones, that is.
Bottom line…..GET IT IN WRITING!
For those business situations that are already spiraling out of control, San Luis Obispo County Builders Exchange has arranged with California Arbitration Associates in Arroyo Grande for one hour of free arbitration or mediation for its members. Jim Johandes can be contacted personally at 710-3617.