In a funny article in the the Mercury News, writer Marni Jameson says that finding a general contractor to remodel your home is not unlike trying to find a life partner. When it comes to finding a quality contractor you work with, you might have to apply some rules of dating.
Rule No. 1: Acknowledge the a scarcity factor.
There’s a national labor shortage when it comes to home remodelers and general contractors, says the National Association of Home Builders. So, if you get the feeling that “all the good ones are taken,” you might be right.
This means there’s competition to get quality contractors. It also means, you might have to pay more for the privilege to work with them. Since contractors can pick and choose among clients, if you’re not offering a big enough job, be prepared that they might go somewhere else or not prioritize your project.
Rule No. 2: It’s good to maintain a full pipeline of prospects.
Sales people know this, and so do serial daters who won’t stop until they find “the one.” It’s important to maintain a healthy pipeline of prospects because you can’t be sure about which one you’ll close. In her article, Jameson shares a story of going through three different contractors before finding the one who actually completed her job.
Even when the contractor is a referral from someone you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to fit your job into their schedule and finish it according to your timeline. And, you won’t know for sure if you want to work with them until you actually meet in person. Other things that can get in the way is that their proposal for the job is outside of your budget.
The key here is to not put all of your eggs into one basket, at least not in the beginning. Have some other contractors lined up in case this one doesn’t work out.
Rule No. 3: Actions speak louder than words.
Another rule of thumb when looking for a great general contractor (or life partner, or even a good friend) is to pay attention to their actions vs. just listening to what they say.
You might call or email a general contractor to discuss the job, and they may say they’re interested in doing the project. But if they don’t follow through in a timely way to set up a meeting to scope out the project, or send a proposal, or even start the work after you agree to a start date, don’t waste your time. Move on and find someone else.
Rule No. 4: Avoid the constantly unavailable.
If you’re not able to get in touch with a contractor, or they don’t return your phone calls and emails within a time frame that you’re comfortable with, move on. Playing hard to get should not apply to any kind of professional relationship.
If you reach out to a contractor about a job and you don’t hear back from them within a couple days, you should probably assume they’re too busy or not interested. Likewise, if a contractor leaves you hanging in any way, move on.
Rule No. 5: If they act like they’re too good for you, find someone else.
Some contractors might view your project as their Plan B or C – backups after their “more important” jobs. But the outstanding contractors treat every client’s job as a top priority and they value quality customer service.
Taking the time to find the top notch professional will pay off in the long run. A true pro is one who does what they say they’ll do, arrives on time, and follows through on what they start. Because wherever you go in life, relationships are still relationships and you always want to surround yourself with the best people.
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