Be Respectful, Be Respected
I wrote a column in early March entitled “Five Tips for Hiring a Construction Professional in 2021.” In this column, I discussed how the labor and service markets have changed drastically and that construction professionals will not work for people who are disrespectful, are indecisive, and who find a reason not to pay for services. They are too busy with customers who will treat them with respect, behave properly, and are willing to pay for services rendered. Honestly, this can be said throughout the current labor market—good people have many choices for employment.
A reader sent in a response to this column, and he makes a good point. He has seen a decline in good, basic customer service from many people in the professional and service trades. He went on to write that these people should not forget the Great Recession and that they also should be respectful.
In his response, the reader tells the following story:
“So, this morning I had an 8:00 a.m. appointment for someone to meet me at my house for an estimate. He finally showed up at 8:40 a.m., as I was walking out to get to work and I told him we were going to have to reschedule. He seemed put-off and said he arrived within the hour. I pointed out our appointment was specifically made for 8:00 a.m., so I could get to work at 9:00 a.m. Do I get to invoice them for my time?”
This reader makes a great point. If you reach out to a construction or service professional for an estimate and they do not show up or call and tell you that they will be late, you probably have the wrong person. Everyone has a cell phone and there are multiple ways to communicate. Failing to communicate and being disrespectful are signs that your work is not a priority.
I have been in the construction supply business for over four decades. The roughest, scruffiest looking construction professionals are usually the most polite and respectful. If you interact with a company or service professional and they are immediately disrespectful to you, your time, and your project then you need to find someone else. However, be careful during this time. Most construction professionals are overwhelmed with work and it is not disrespectful if their timeline does not fit yours. For example, a good craftsperson may tell you it will be six weeks before he can look at your job. Understand what he is really saying—he is that good and you will have to wait for him.
Another sign you may want to find someone else to do your work is when someone tries to sell you something you do not need and you start thinking, “They are trying to take advantage of me.” Here is a true story from March. A divorced and now single female in a new home called a big-box store and said that with her stimulus money she wanted to purchase a new door to change out a back door in her home. The installer at this company quoted the homeowner $1,200 for a single 36-inch French door. His quote included replacing the door and the jamb, which meant carpentry service. However, there was no need to replace the jamb. A good door shop can just match the hinges and bore so the old door can be unpinned and removed and the replacement door can be hung. She felt the installer was fast-talking her and she could not understand why the door and the jamb had to be replaced. He lied to her. By only replacing the door, this homeowner saved $600 along with the hassle of not needing a carpenter. When a construction or service person tells you something that does not sound believable, it probably is not.
Although some people in the construction and service industries are talkers, if your person is doing all the talking and not listening to what you want, then you have a problem. You definitely want a construction and service professional to talk freely and offer their advice, because many times that will save you money. However, it is your project, your money, and your dream—do not compromise.
Finally, money is integral when it comes to being respected by your construction or service professional. When someone has not been fully paid for their work, it is amazing how respectful they will act. Many unscrupulous providers lose their respect for homeowners who pay a large deposit or pay in full upfront. Although you should always be fair, do not pay in full upfront or overpay draws for work that has not been completed because—that is your best leverage.
This reader’s email said it best, “Success comes from a bilateral relationship between customer and provider that is based on a very simple mindset: be respectful, be respected.”
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at aroundthehouse.tv.