Recently I was trying to find a landscape company to do some work at the home stead but I had a hard time finding anybody to even look at the project. After a period of frustration I asked myself “is professionalism gone in small business”?
It seems that most of the businesses that I have contacted to do my project just outside Phoenix, AZ did not want the work!
We have a water feature that consists of two (2) waterfalls with a creek connecting them and we have had a problem with them working like they should so I googled for companies in our area so I could get some prices. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong!
One of the first companies that I called was one that had a nice website and I thought that this should be a solid company that would jump right on our project right? Wrong!
I called the office and a nice lady answered the phone and said that I would have to talk to an estimator and schedule a visit. I said I would wait and five minutes later a guy picks up the phone and he tells me that before he can schedule a visit to give me an estimate; I would have to pay forty five dollars ($45.00).
I didn’t know that small contractors were turning business away but maybe my clients are in the wrong sector. I mean the estimator didn’t even want to hear about the problem or anything! “Hand over the $45.00 and then I will talk to you!”
After an afternoon of calling I threw in the towel and turned to “Craigslist”! Not putting Craigslist down but there are a lot of unlicensed contractors that advertise on there. I try to give my business to licensed contractors!
On Craigslist I found a listing for a company that had a smoking website (found out later the business owner’s girlfriend designed it)!
Over the phone the owner sounded good! At our first meeting he impressed both me and my wife! He got the job! He had to completely redo our system and we paid willingly!
The thing is he was just starting his company and he does know how to run the field work (but his knowledge of running a business was lacking).
At the beginning my wife was so impressed that she wanted him to do some extra work and asked him to give a price to redo our bar by the pool along with doing more landscape work like installing some plants and other goodies along the creek. He smiled and said he would work up a price. That’s when things started going downhill!
When it came time for his first draw and he asked for a check. No problem; my wife went to her office and printed the check. When she returned with the check he looked at it and asked that the check be made out to him; she asked why he didn’t tell her that before she printed the check and made the comment that it wasn’t very professional that the check was not made out to the company.
Of course this action tarnished his image as a Pro! Worse; he began acting like a spoiled child!
He took offense that she questioned his professionalism so he bowed up and never did give the price to do any the extra work. For the duration of the project he acted like a different person. There was tension in the air whenever he and my ever loving were in the same vicinity. (Comical to an old war dog!)
I could have offered some advice but I have found that most people think the value of free advice is worth exactly what they have to pay for it.
The project was completed successfully and we are happy with the results but I wish our contractor had handled it differently! I could have recommended his company to a lot of business associates but that’s another story for another time.
We’re happy with the work as completed and I enjoy sitting on the patio working with my clients on the phone and just enjoying the peace and quiet of my oasis in the desert.
My newbie landscaper lost out on the extra work and now I have to get back to beating the bushes to find somebody else to do the balance of work the boss wants done!
The point of sharing this small adventure is to demonstrate that small contractors need to suck it up and decide whether to keep doing business the same old way or to take their business to the next level. Times are changing and you need to change with it!
Things to consider for your company:·
- Do not act like you are too busy for any new business!
- Be professional throughout the project.
- If you have a difference of opinions over an issue; suck it up!
- Avoid co-mingling of funds between you and your company. Remember you are a Professional!
- If you commit to giving a proposal for extra work provide it!
- Take pictures of your projects and act like they are special!
- Ask for letters of recommendation from your satisfied customers!
- Treat your customers like they are special!
- Make every customer a satisfied customer. It pays in the long run!
- I referred to it once but never let your personal feelings come between you and finishing a project in a professional manner!
You need to be aware that the future is going to offer many new opportunities and those companies that adapt and willing to move into the next level are going to be not only survivors but those that are going to be successful!
You need to position yourself and your business to be ready! Here is a snapshot of our Creek by the waterfalls.