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Average Joe
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There have been a number of threads recently that addressed some issues that have been bugging me. I don't want to beat a dead horse or disrespect some members here and maybe I have a right to say something and maybe I don't.

With regards to business operations now we can all agree that lowballers/unlicensed/fly-by-night/uninsured/illegals/cash only contractors hurt us all.

But what about the rest of us? The insured/licensed/ethical contractors?

It all starts with "free-estimates" and that horse is dead, it's been covered in more threads here than almost anything else. It follows the Truck vs Van argument, it's almost 50/50.

But lets talk about lowering prices, working for next to nothing if anything at all...lets talk about late night appointments, lets talk about this perceived notion that our survival in the business sense is dictated by the consumer.

Now before some of you fly off into how customer service is such and such, how the economy took a dump on us, our competitors, how consumers have such and such rights and can control our prices let me remind you all of something. Look around you, look at your competitors, look at the builders/contractors in your economy/builders association who have been around for years, the ones in magazines, newspapers, television, easily found on the internet...look at the success stories all around you. Look at the guys that are working on multi-million dollar homes, look at the guys who consider a 100k project the very bottom of the barrel....they're everywhere, in every city all across North America.

When times get tough you stand your ground.

Why did you go into business in the first place? Why did you train for years, get tossed around, abused, misused, cheated then came out more educated/experienced, put years of knowledge and skill together, go through all the hoops to open up shop...some of you risked marriage/familial ties, scrounged all your money, risked going bankrupt, gave up your social life almost all together, sweated like a dog and all the other associated traits of becoming a sole proprietor/entrepeneur/business owner in the first place?

Now some of us went through all that and where are we now? Forget the damn title on your business card (Owner/Ceo/President/Head hancho)...where are you now?

You're still taking orders from somebody. The way I see it, we offer the consumers a service. This service is always in demand, will never go away and from all signs/forecasts there will be/is already a shortage of our pedigree. No engineering miracle can take away our utility to the populace.

So here we are...the physically capable, knowledgeable, experienced, wise members of an industry that is in demand. Yet...here we are, the grovelling, short changing, paranoid, insecure members of an industry that we feel we have no control over.

So...the decisions rest on you, you can look around and see the successful members of your own industry who are light years ahead of you and see what they are doing, how they are doing it and why they are doing it...or you can carry on, ***** and moan about how "gotta do whatya gotta do to feed them kids".

By all means...feed your kids, I know people that work in jobs that require an I.Q./personality/skills/knowledge slightly above the greeter at Wal-mart that also feed their kids :thumbsup:

Oh and btw, they did not have to break their backs, go through all the hoops, risk divorce/bankruptcy/sleepless nights/years of training/experience/knowledge/risk their health/risk losing a limb to get there. When you pick yourself up and find that backbone and change your perspective I think you'll find that there's an open field in this industry and some that have learned a few small details of its intricacies have already built mansions on it.

You are where you are because you chose to be there, now make all the excuses you want but YOU are in control and when you are fully ready to accept that and take all the hurdles that will stand in your way and accept nothing less for yourself/your business...until then...you're just buying yourself more time and standing around hoping for the wind to change. I got news for you...that wind won't change and if it does, it won't be because of you and others like you. It will be because of the other people in your own industry that fought back and preserved some respectful standards for our collective worth.
 

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Working
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4,127 Posts
Good Post
I think the biggest mistake the not as successfull contractors make is they forget it's a business. It needs to be treated like one, your not a tradsmen any more. You are a business owner start acting like one.
 

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Carpe Diem
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20,742 Posts
What was the question? :laughing:

Being a contractor doesn't mean you have a strict set of rules to follow. You're not a McDonalds franchise which dictates a lot of what you can do, at what time you do it and how much you charge for it.

Some guys may want a highly respected, well run business that generates a lot of income. Some guys may be totally content on a few small jobs a week. My counter top guy is running around trying to find new ways to generate business because he's doing $100k less business this year over last. My carpet guy only works 4 days a week, never past 4 and will not go beyond a certain geographic location. He lives to make enough money to ride his motorcycle on the weekends. My neighbor who is a union laborer prefers to work night shift so he can spend the day with his young children.

There is no one way to be a contractor. There is no one way to be a successful contractor. Being legitimate (insured and licensed where necessary), having morals and taking pride in your work is pretty much the blueprint I see to what should make a respected contractor. No?
 

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Contractor of the Month
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26,075 Posts
Heritage, I think I'm missing the point of your post....can you give me the Reader's Digest Condensed version?

Angus, you are right on the money.:thumbsup:
 
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Angus is correct in saying there is more than one way of being a contractor. Each is doing it for their own reasons, and their own goals, whether lofty or not.

BUT = Heritage is right on the money with this one. The average age of skilled tradesmen is about 60yrs old. (that's me) We make up 40% of the skilled workforce in construction.

We all complain about the lack of good trades. Well it's going to get a lot worse. Heritage I think is reminding us of the opportunity to fill this void.

There is already a lack of quality GC's for high end work. This market is only going to get larger. Just wait till we exit this recession, and see the demand that will come.

Heritage is saying if you want it, go get it, it is there.

I would pose the question though, where will the skilled people to do this work come from? Some larger home builders are training their own. Here, at least there is a lack of, or difficulty in the training of new guys.

We also need them to want to do this work. That in itself is a problem.

NOTES- I already apprenticed 3, so that's it for me. And I'm still going on my night calls. :thumbsup:
 

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Professional Instigator
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6,872 Posts
In this past year. I have seen and heard even more contractors talking their way out of making money and adjusting their business practices just to survive.

Justifying their bad habits, low pay and having no work on the economy or awful homeowners that don't appreciate their time or efforts.

Is it really those factors or do some of us need to look in the mirror?

Good Post Heritage..
 

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Carpe Diem
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20,742 Posts
I don't want to make the impression I don't agree with Heritage. I understand his point of those who complain about the state of their business. I agree there is and will always be a market for contractors. Doing nothing but having a whoa-wizz-me attitude does nothing to resolve your problems.

My point is that some guys don't need to have websites, fancy work trucks, showrooms, strict hours, large marketing budgets or a full crew ready to kick ass at all times.

There is plenty of work out there. If it's not falling in your lap (most likely the case) you have every opportunity to resolve the situation. Don't just complain about it.
 

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DavidC
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2,550 Posts
Good post Heritage. I like this line I particular "When times get tough you stand your ground."

We are working less this year but have held fast on our rates. At the same time we have managed to increase the caliber of our clients which is setting the stage for us to recover ahead of the economy.

A lot of good comments already too. Hopefully this will be a long and helpful thread.

Good Luck
Dave
 

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Right on Angus. But I am getting the impression some of the newer guys could use some help in getting this work.

All I can recommend is do top drawer work, network, and build on what you have already done. ie referrals.

Any other ideas for them?
 

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Design/Build Remodeling
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Angus & Heritage :thumbup: Right-on, Right-on, Right-on. :clap: Your both Right! But I'm reading two different subjects.

I read Heritage as saying:
Man-up!

Grow a pair!

Lead - follow- or get the F*** out of the way!

There are those who make things happen - There are those who watch things happen - There are those who wonder what happened!

I read Angus as:
Each of us do the things Heritage discusses for different reasons.

Two subjects not mutually exclusive:thumbsup:
 

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bathroom guru
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1,348 Posts
Kinda reminds me of that Bear movie with Anthony Hopkins and Alex Baldwin -

Baldwin is moaning about being lost with no food, no hope - with a big ass bear after them.

Hopkins looks at him and asks "Are we going to sit here and die??"

When Baldwin asks "what do we do?"

Hopkins replies "we're gonna kill the MF"

They later ate the bear.

Moral of the story - We all have a choice to either sit down and die or kill the MF
 

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Lack Of All Trades
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1,232 Posts
Once you start changing and discounting/de-valuing the services you offer, you are on a slippery slope; what happens when business picks up then you re-adjust your prices up again? I'm not sure..:whistling

If I have to lower my prices based on what a customer dictates, then, well

I'd rather dip into the kids' college savings and watch Maury Povich everyday on the couch!

"You-are-NOT...the-father!"
 

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I think we mostly all agree with Heritage's post about taking control of your own destiny, basically.

I don't want to get away from that, but when the situation changes, how will you get this work done without the properly trained people?

This is a major consideration. Without the right people you won't be able to expand and prosper. Anyone got any ideas?

The three guys I apprenticed went out on their own. Natural of course.

If I should start a new topic for this, speak up, but I feel this is vital to any business to prosper. That is what we're discussing here.
 

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Professional Instigator
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I think we mostly all agree with Heritage's post about taking control of your own destiny, basically.

I don't want to get away from that, but when the situation changes, how will you get this work done without the properly trained people?

This is a major consideration. Without the right people you won't be able to expand and prosper. Anyone got any ideas?

The three guys I apprenticed went out on their own. Natural of course.

If I should start a new topic for this, speak up, but I feel this is vital to any business to prosper. That is what we're discussing here.


Buy making the Remodeling/Contractor pay and trade reputation worth a damn..

Who wants to be a contractor and end up broke at 60, working 900 hours a week, under appreciated and talked about on the news like a red headed step child..

Do you think kids growing up want to aspire to be that???


Only by making the pay rates enticing to young guys and getting homeowners to respect our trade and rates will this be accomplished

Just like Plumbers, Electricians and HVAC trades do
 

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solar guy
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1,917 Posts
It's late
I've had a bit of theragoose
However I have to agree with RBS on this one.
The next and future generations are not going into the trades.
Personal example and a bit of background.
I have been a carpenter, electrician, plumber, HVAC and solar guy at various times of my life. Always loved to look back at the finished project and say "I did that"
Wife is a teacher turned lawyer.
We have a son and daughter
Girl is very intellegent as boy is but in different ways.
Girl is in college for marketing and business.
Boy is in college but somewhat floundering not knowing what he wants to do.
I have had boy on numerous jobs and he takes to he trades and the satisfaction of a job acomplished like a fish to water. He sometimes amazes me with what he is able to do on his own without any formal training.
I would like to see him in the trades where I truly believe he will be happier in the long run. Wife will have nothing to do with it. Even though the carpenter put her through law school.(Albeit with lots of student loans).
I think this is the attitude of many parents today. I am truly saddened by this. I have a sister who was until recently when she retired one of the highest ranking people at Johnson and Johnson. She said to me once that she respected and admired me because I knew how to do stuff and could get things done.
The next generation is missing the boat by not pursuing the trades as it is something that cannot be outsourced to India ( AS the IT people have come to know) or elsewhere.
Encourage the next generation to be the craftsman of the future.
Besides who's gonna fix our stuff when we are not physically capable any more!
 

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Because of what happened with the economy, when it turns around I think that you will see more young people going into the trades, everybody can't be bankers, stock broker, lawyers and mortgage brokers
 
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