Doing Business with a Professional
Having been a coatings contractor for over fifteen years now, it is easy for me to spot an experienced customer and one who is green. An experienced customer asks for lots of criteria that a green customer doesn’t know he should ask for. If your experience with contractors is limited, let me give you some advice that will help you with your next project and make dealing with a contractor more enjoyable.
Well, if these four areas are covered in your dealings with a contractor, your job will go much smoother
and your contractor and you will be a lot more satisfied with the process.
First is the scope of the work. Do you have a written description of the work you want performed? A
newbie customer will take you on a walk and thinking on the fly will say stuff like “do this and do that
but don’t worry about that.” This allows for an approximate idea of what you want done and is part of
the process, but a detailed written description of what you want done is better. If you don’t write it
down, I know you really haven’t really thought through what you want done. Defining what you want
done in writing is the scope of the work and every job that is done right needs this step.
Second is the time it will take to complete. Do you want me to give you an anticipated number of days
or hours to complete the project or have you already determined when it needs to be done. Obviously,
if you need a job done quickly, more laborers usually cost more in the long run than a smaller group.
This is because smaller groups work more efficiently. The shorter the time, the greater the inefficiency.
A shorter time frame costs more. Remember that when you schedule and try to be as flexible as you
can with your schedule. It will save you money.
Third – valid experience. Do you know if the company you are hiring has the experience to handle your
job? Any painting contractor who has been in the coatings business should have a list of completed
projects to show you if you ask. Don’t feel like it is an imposition to ask for references and a copy of the
business license. Experienced customers do this all the time. The painting industry is rife with
individuals who have done a lot of house painting without a valid license and are not qualified to do
specialty coatings. These individuals cannot stand on their work and so they just keep moving to new
customers who don’t ask any questions. A qualified contractor is happy to show you his license, his
liability insurance and a list of satisfied customers that will vouch for his work. Don’t hire someone
without written valid credentials. You’ll be sorry if you do.
Lastly is finances. Tell your contractor how and when he is going to be paid. Only a dishonest
contractor will want to be paid the bulk of the contract before the work has been done. But the average
contractor just wants to be paid when the work is completed. Many commercial jobs entail waiting until
the corporate headquarters cuts a check and this may take a month or more, but this makes it hard on
any contractor. Tell your contractor how and when he is going to be paid.