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Old 09-28-2006, 05:16 PM   #1
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


I read the slew of posts recently talking about how to prequalify potential customers and the assorted opinions. I never knew so much was involved in having a contractor bid or estimate a project, found out hard way it can be very challenging to collect bids.
At the moment I am renovating my own basement and am doing so not out of choice, but out of frustration with contractors. Maybe some of you guys can tell me what I am doing wrong with my dealings with contractors, I would definitely like some input.

As a recent transplant to the Southeast, I do not know many people for referals, but each referal that I have contacted have either a terrible business sense or are "pre-qualifying" me incorrectly. Endless left messages, no call backs, missed appointments for estimates, or they have just got it wrong. If someone asks me how much my budget is, he's not going to get an answer, I had cash in bank waiting for right people, never came. Sorry if this offends the honest guys, and im sure most of you are, but you are NOT basing your estimate on my budget!. Knowone asked if my plans were ready, they are, or whether I was ready, I am. I got alot of " umm, yeah...thats a lot of work, yup" "going to cost $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ without even thinking about it. Mind you, this is a crappy little split level ranch in NC, 900 sf basement, not a huge job or high dollar house. One guy told me going rate for remodel is $100 a sf, $90,000 to do my basement!!!. The local HVAC guy I hired was absolutely phenomenal though, cant say enough good things about him. Asked for my specs, what I was looking for, came out had a preliminary meeting, saw the space, took the measurements, had 3 estimates in 2 days, just like he said. He got the job, paid cash, and he has the basement job when I get closer.
I literally could not get anyone to sit down and estimate the job, not a bad job either, probably $30g when all said and done. I mean, come on...im doing it! Nothing about it scares me.
Just sitting here scratching my head and wondering whats up?.

PS- was blown off the other day by the electrian who was going to do work for me, thats why im doing the electric too. Don't have patience for people why dont want to take my money.

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Old 09-28-2006, 06:26 PM   #2
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Why do you suppose that most of your contractor candidates are getting a bad vibe from you? I've gotta tell you that I'm plenty busy, and it doesn't take much of a red flag for me to blow off a homeowner. Something about you, your home, or your lifestyle is giving these guys the willies. It seems to be somewhat across the board, with the exception of HVAC. Figure out what that is, and you might get a few bids. Don't take this personally, but I can say that generally if I think that the person is an ********************* (or potentially could be) I won't bother with them.

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Old 09-28-2006, 06:46 PM   #3
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


I find the worst customers are the ones who have the attitude "I'm more than capable to do the damn thing myself".

So what's the problem??

Go 'head 'n do it . . .
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Old 09-28-2006, 06:48 PM   #4
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Mike,

I can tell you that personally, I will ask you for your budget and I will be using your budget to help you decide exactly how to spend your money for the biggest return on your investment. Asking about your budget is never a dirty tactic if the company you are dealing with is reputable. Perhaps that is part of the problem, you don't know anything about the companies you are calling. Have you used the BBB, the NKBA, the local builders association or anything else to determine the reputation and the standing of the companies in your community?

Also, whenever a customer contacts me and include the term "bid" in their conversation my interest in their job and them as a customer wains right off the bat, since you're pretty much telling me right off the bat that money is your #1 criteria for your project. Those projects are pretty much something I would rather refer to my competition so I can spend my time on the better ones and the fun ones.

You see, it's a bit about supply and demand, the more demand for a contractors services means the better they are at what they do, the better they are at what they do, A) The more they are going to charge, so coming to see your bid work becomes more and more a waste of time, since they will never be the lowest bidder B) the more choosy they are about who the work for.

If you have 10-16 weeks worth of work on back log the chances are you are less likely to run and jump at any morsel of food someone on the phone is tossing you.

Now on the other hand when you suck at your craft or you're a con man, you have no back log and are ready to bid immediately for a scrap. Unfortunately, you are self qualifying yourself to only appeal to this latter group instead of the former ones I described.
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Old 09-28-2006, 06:58 PM   #5
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


nope, not the case. im easy going, no attitude and I actually treat people with the respect they deserve. Im not giving crap to the guy who would potentially be working in my house. Bad way to start a relationship. I did forget to mention that I had one guy come out and look at another property before I purchased this one. I hired him at $80 bucks at hour to consult, came on time, returned calls, stayed 2 hrs. You know what?, he didnt charge me a dime, if I ever need a builder, he is the guy. My current project is not his line of work, he does design-build.

Just think that the majority of contractors in this area,(at least the ones I am dealing with) are out to lunch. Bad way to do business, now when friends ask if I have references, I make sure to tell them to NOT go to contractor X. Wonder why these guys dont have the where withall to say; cant take your job, am too busy, or return calls, show up for appointments, recommend someone else, or just provide some sort of customer service.
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Old 09-28-2006, 07:02 PM   #6
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom R View Post
I find the worst customers are the ones who have the attitude "I'm more than capable to do the damn thing myself".

So what's the problem??

Go 'head 'n do it . . .
nope, you have it wrong.

no recourse BUT to do it myself, project delayed for months looking for contractor. I don't know how to play the "game", am just a guy looking to get work done.
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Old 09-28-2006, 08:40 PM   #7
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


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Originally Posted by Mikedks View Post
no recourse BUT to do it myself

Definitely your best bet, - - as was stated above, for some reason, said contractors are getting a bad vibe.

When things are busy, - - they can afford to be picky.
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Old 09-28-2006, 08:48 PM   #8
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


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nope, not the case. im easy going, no attitude and I actually treat people with the respect they deserve. Im not giving crap to the guy who would potentially be working in my house. Bad way to start a relationship. I did forget to mention that I had one guy come out and look at another property before I purchased this one. I hired him at $80 bucks at hour to consult, came on time, returned calls, stayed 2 hrs. You know what?, he didnt charge me a dime, if I ever need a builder, he is the guy. My current project is not his line of work, he does design-build.

Just think that the majority of contractors in this area,(at least the ones I am dealing with) are out to lunch. Bad way to do business, now when friends ask if I have references, I make sure to tell them to NOT go to contractor X. Wonder why these guys dont have the where withall to say; cant take your job, am too busy, or return calls, show up for appointments, recommend someone else, or just provide some sort of customer service.
You are absolutely right on that last sentence. It is a terrible way to conduct business to ignore phone messages, or not just be honest and tell someone that you are too busy right now. At the beginning of summer I was booked up for two months and there were people calling almost everyday. Those that didn't want to wait I recommended another finisher that I know does a good job and they were grateful. I can't stand these people like you are describing, they affect all of us negatively.

From reading your posts I don't think you are the problem. I deal with people like you all the time who have gotten sick of scum bags and are so happy to deal with someone who shows up on time, or at least calls if something comes up. The other day I wasn't able to make it to a patch job and forgot to call them until about 5 o'clock. I got their machine and left a message. The next day I was afraid they would be upset, they were so suprised and happy that I called even though it was late. The guy told me that nobody he has dealt with ever called like that.

I hope you find someone who will be able to come through for you, and please don't think bad about all contractors.
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Old 09-28-2006, 08:51 PM   #9
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


JUst a question Mike. Are you telling them of all the trouble you have run into before they come out to look at the work? If so this could be part of the problem.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:07 PM   #10
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


nope, I would never bag on a local contractor to another, no way. World is too small, my luck, probably the guys brother!

Not here to get down on anyone either, I swear, am just looking for ways to negoiate w/contractors. I still have jobs to sub out, should I just call and be like, I have a set of plans and financing in place, need you to come out and estimate? how am I taken seriously?

I live in Research Triangle area of NC, building like crazy, am sure everyone is busy, how to get on schedule?
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:28 PM   #11
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Mike, I wish I had some advice for you. All I know is that when someone calls me the first thing I ask is what is the size of the job. If it sounds too big for me to get to because of a back log then I tell them straight up and recommend another guy. If they still want I will get out to give estimate quickly. I have had people wait for me for two months which is rare for sheetrock finishers, at least here. Another thing I run into is people who call and think you should be able to start tommorow. They have no concept of calling well in advance. This is like the people who used to bring their cars in to the dealership where I worked the day before they had to leave on vacation and want two days worth of work done. Good luck.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:31 PM   #12
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikedks View Post
nope, I would never bag on a local contractor to another, no way. World is too small, my luck, probably the guys brother!

Not here to get down on anyone either, I swear, am just looking for ways to negoiate w/contractors. I still have jobs to sub out, should I just call and be like, I have a set of plans and financing in place, need you to come out and estimate? how am I taken seriously?

I live in Research Triangle area of NC, building like crazy, am sure everyone is busy, how to get on schedule?

Could the area be anything to do with your problem? I know of contractors near me who wont go to certain areas of Louisville, and for the life of me i dont know why, i will happily work there, but even for better than normal rates they wont go.

Hope you have better luck.
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Old 09-28-2006, 09:32 PM   #13
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikedks View Post
I still have jobs to sub out, should I just call and be like, I have a set of plans and financing in place, need you to come out and estimate? how am I taken seriously?

I live in Research Triangle area of NC, building like crazy, am sure everyone is busy, how to get on schedule?
So, you're looking to act as a GC on this job yourself? This is the second time you've mentioned hiring trades directly that would normally be hired by a GC handling the work.

If that is the case, you're not going to get a GC to oversee this project easily at all.

If not, and its just the individual trades you're having trouble hiring, go to some of the bigger firms. You might pay more, but they are more accustomed to running big and small jobs all at once with multiple crews.

Also, call and talk to the counter folks and managers at the specialty stores, like paint, dry wall suppliers, flooring companies, lumber yards (local and big usually), plumbing supply houses, electrical supply houses, etc. They can tell you who is working and who isn't, and usually based on the attitude of the folks buying, who is doing good work and who isn't.

Its the bad ones that come in looking for 'solutions in a can'.
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Old 09-28-2006, 10:07 PM   #14
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


may sound somewhat confusing, but originally, was trying to hire a GC to do whole job. had trouble on that front, so I hired my own structural engineer and designer and had plans drawn. Completely gutted basement and carted debris myself, that I know I am qualified for. Figured, grunt work, that I can do, rather than paying the day laborers 10 bucks an hour. That is the point I decided to DIY/sub contract, so I am building what I can, and when over my head, am hiring(or trying to)skilled trades. So you are right, at this point, no GC will touch this and I am on my own.
I never thought of asking at the supplier houses, a few specialized suppliers are located close to me. I will go talk to them, great advice!.
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Old 09-28-2006, 10:38 PM   #15
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RE:ContractorTalk recent post:qualifying new business


Hiya neighbor, Winston Salem here.
Quote:
I read the slew of posts recently talking about how to pre qualify potential customers and the assorted opinions. I never knew so much was involved in having a contractor bid or estimate a project, found out hard way it can be very challenging to collect bids.
I never "pre qualify" potential customers. However, if on the phone a customer ask anything regarding pricing, or how I arrive at my prices, or how they would do it...but they don't have time, or I have my own paint I want to use, then the conversation is over.

I have found that those comments are pre cursors to price shopping, nit picking, or wanting information to bidding formulas that are proprietary. If none of the above issues are raised then I will always go out and provide a qoute.

Quote:
If someone asks me how much my budget is, he's not going to get an answer,
I never ask a potential customer what their budget is, it's really none of my business. Either they can afford me or they can't.
Quote:
I got alot of " umm, yeah...thats a lot of work, yup" "going to cost $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ without even thinking about it.
The average qoute takes me about an hour to write, I measure, ask questions, figure man hours, etc. I never throw around arbitrary numbers while looking the job over, I feel it's unprofessional, and I don't see the point in it.
Quote:
I literally could not get anyone to sit down and estimate the job, not a bad job either, probably $30g when all said and done. I mean, come on...im doing it! Nothing about it scares me.
I can't quite wrap my head around this comment, noone will give you a qoute? That's highly unusual even during the busiest time of year. No reflection on you, but there have been many customers when first meeting them I knew I didn't want the job, still gave them the qoute but after a number of years in the industry I have a good radar as to who's going to be a pain, and my qoute always reflects this.

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