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I was talking to a buddy of mine the other day regarding customers these day seem to have an attitude. Sometimes i think the hell with it --- "just quit"

His reply was the following.

"What you are saying about customers is not localized but is a national thing. Every single person I know who has their own business tells a similar story to yours. In one fashion or another they want everything much cheaper than they quote, they change the timeline of installs at the last minute, collecting from them is a huge pain in the butt, and they will get 30 bids before making a decision. Trust me when I say you are "not alone."

As you are aware, I never wrote a contract in my life while in business. Today, if I were to follow the same pattern I would end up in bankruptcy. "

Do you find the above true with your business. If not please share your secret.
 

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tonyc56 said:
I was talking to a buddy of mine the other day regarding customers these day seem to have an attitude. Sometimes i think the hell with it --- "just quit" His reply was the following. "What you are saying about customers is not localized but is a national thing. Every single person I know who has their own business tells a similar story to yours. In one fashion or another they want everything much cheaper than they quote, they change the timeline of installs at the last minute, collecting from them is a huge pain in the butt, and they will get 30 bids before making a decision. Trust me when I say you are "not alone." As you are aware, I never wrote a contract in my life while in business. Today, if I were to follow the same pattern I would end up in bankruptcy. " Do you find the above true with your business. If not please share your secret.
I have great customers, never been stiffed on a job and get great reviews. The only time I've ever had a problem getting paid was from another contractor. This is why I only enter into prime contracts and I don't work as a sub to another general. Even decks, I tell this to generals all the time, most for whatever reason are offended.
 

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DavidC
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In my 30+ years I have seen pretty much all of what your buddy said. But the real truth is that most of my clients are reasonable people that understand how we both benefit from our relationship.

The real secret is so secret that you will only find a few thousand or so references to it on this forum alone. Promise less, deliver more.

Tell them you'll be there at 8, arrive at 7:45 kind of stuff.

We recently installed a few windows for a new client. A retired couple that have seen a number of contractors over the years. At the end of the job they wasted 20 mins. of our time, time we'll never get back, to go on and on about how great we are. So professional, so punctual, cleaned up after ourselves and on and on.

Now they want to bump up their planned kitchen remodel. Looking forward to a decent remodel for mid winter. Nice mutual benefit sort of deal.

I am lucky enough to have a few clients that I have been serving for over 25 years. Also a few that I have followed from home to home.

Lately we've been serving those who serve us. This is a relatively new market to me and I like it. It is in their blood to give the type of service they expect. Some shop, and that's not a bad thing. Smart ones check your references and insurance coverage.

They check you out thoroughly and when they hire you, expect to be treated well. It is a pleasure to have clients that know and understand an agreement and how to honor it.

You'll find plenty of the other, especially if you look for them. Doesn't mean you have to work for them. When you Promise Less, Deliver More you have greener pastures to graze.

Good Luck
Dave
 

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Most of my clients are absolutely wonderful people, if someone is difficult to deal with I don't deal with them unless I'm hungry for work.
 

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My customers are awesome as well. Never had a problem unless I knew it was going to be one before I started. Then it is on me and I do my best to mitigate it.

My customers pay well and quickly. I do my best to service them in a like manner. This year we got so strung out we just finished work that was scheduled for May. My customers were still great about it.

To be honest, if you pick the right folks, you really have to work at making them bad customers.
 

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I'm not calling anyone names, and I know there are exceptions, but it's my experience that a-hole contractors tend to be the ones who complain about a-hole customers. Nice guy contractors who get along with people tend to have great customers. I can't think of one customer I've had that I couldn't call up and bring someone over to see the job I did for them, and they'd probably have milk and cookies for us when we got there. Ok. I admit. There's a couple customers out there who I just didn't click with who probably don't like me. But it's pretty rare, is all I'm saying....
 

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"Customers" are not a group that can be summed up on a likability scale. Have you considered that maybe the problem is with you? With one person instead of everybody? Also, stop hanging around these people, including your friend.

See, life is a lot like looking through a screen. If the screen is dirty everything you look at becomes dirty. And we create our own screen. Every person has something remarkable about them, make it your job to find that out. Over time your world will change, it will change because you are busy removing the screen. Suddenly, you'll look at life through a different lens and realize we are surrounded by amazing people.

As I look over the last week all I see are great customers, and that's well over 30 people.

Here is just an example of yesterday.

I was invited to look at a project yesterday at 9 and was told it was a referral and how they wanted me to be the plumber. When I showed up there's 5 plumbers bidding, 3 electricians, 1 HVAC, and about a dozen people i couldn't recognize. Everybody was pissed because they all realized this was one of those price only jobs by an out of town management company trying to break in the the GC market here.

I thought it was fun. I had great conversations and although I declined to bid, I'll be doing service work at that house eventually. Guaranteed. At the very minimum I made people laugh and in a crowd of grumpy people one thing was for sure is that I made people feel good and lightened up the mood, people never forget how others made them feel. I was the ONE person who changed that. I was the ONE person they will remember.

So I left with a doughnut and helped a lady with a toilet leak. She was a great person who had a great personality. Customer for life.

Went to this place called Snap Fitness to repair a vacuum breaker on a mop sink. Really had a lot fun, everybody is happy at this place besides this girl on a treadmill. Customers for life.

Finished my day at an old farmhouse owned by a lady with a cool dog. She was gone but I still had fun. The dog had to go out so I called her and asked if I could let the dog out. She thought that was great so that's what I did. Here's a photo.


Lawn Grass Yard Vehicle Tree

I also uploaded it to my personal Facebook page via smart phone. While I'm working people are engaged with the photo and spreading WOM. All the ladies like little dogs, that's why I posted it. Customers for life.

As I read what you posted I looked back at my day and couldn't find one single thing wrong with it. But I know a plumber personally who would complain about all of it and tell me how people suck and how they are cheap and how they are selfish etc. So who really has the problem?

I just don't see it. I must be blind.

Mike
 

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After sleeping on it, I did think of something else in regards to the op, so here's another two cents...

I worked for 12 years for a custom builder who's average house was probably $500,000-$1,000,000. A good many of these were second homes, weekenders, lake homes, etc. These were customers who had a significant disposable income.

I then went to work as a superintendent for a built on your lot homebuilder here in Texas. The average house there was probably in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, and was generally the customer's primary residence. These were mostly people who had figured out the biggest house payment they could afford and were having a house built based on that.

It soon became apparent that the second group was, in general, much harder to work for. I was used to the first group, which was almost across the board, laid back, friendly, easy to work with, etc.

In the second group, it seemed the with majority of customers that I was constantly putting out fires and calming people down over some "crisis". Looking back, I think it stemmed from money problems. For instance, one job needed a septic system that was $1500 more than the owner had thought due to his soil conditions. The owner freaked about this, and blamed (screamed at, actually) me for the plumbing in the house being wrong, for putting his slab too low, for doing the final grade too high, and on and on. Problem was, he didn't have $1500, and he was taking it out on me. It was pretty common also to have people nit pick the construction or finishes (Formica tops don't exactly match the sample type stuff) and try to weasel free upgrades out of it.

The first group of customers, who had money, had no such problems. One guy decided to turn the bonus room space over his 5 car garage into a theater. Cost? Who cares? Do it. On another job we had to put in a $5,000 retaining wall to control water run-off that nobody had foreseen. Customer says no prob, and while we're at it, let's do another $10,000 of retaining walls over here because it could probably use it anyway...

I quickly bolted from the second job, not liking the conditions of working for such people, (amid a host of other retarded corporate minutiae from that company, but that's another story).

Point is, as the general public becomes more and more debt ridden, living from paycheck to paycheck, immediate gratification, entitlement mentality idiots, it may be that more people don't really have the money for the work they want/need done, and take it out on the contractor.

I've made a concerted and focused effort in working for myself to work for people in the first group.
 

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The Finisher
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"Customers" are not a group that can be summed up on a likability scale. Have you considered that maybe the problem is with you? With one person instead of everybody? Also, stop hanging around these people, including your friend.

See, life is a lot like looking through a screen. If the screen is dirty everything you look at becomes dirty. And we create our own screen. Every person has something remarkable about them, make it your job to find that out. Over time your world will change, it will change because you are busy removing the screen. Suddenly, you'll look at life through a different lens and realize we are surrounded by amazing people.

As I look over the last week all I see are great customers, and that's well over 30 people.

Here is just an example of yesterday.

I was invited to look at a project yesterday at 9 and was told it was a referral and how they wanted me to be the plumber. When I showed up there's 5 plumbers bidding, 3 electricians, 1 HVAC, and about a dozen people i couldn't recognize. Everybody was pissed because they all realized this was one of those price only jobs by an out of town management company trying to break in the the GC market here.

I thought it was fun. I had great conversations and although I declined to bid, I'll be doing service work at that house eventually. Guaranteed. At the very minimum I made people laugh and in a crowd of grumpy people one thing was for sure is that I made people feel good and lightened up the mood, people never forget how others made them feel. I was the ONE person who changed that. I was the ONE person they will remember.

So I left with a doughnut and helped a lady with a toilet leak. She was a great person who had a great personality. Customer for life.

Went to this place called Snap Fitness to repair a vacuum breaker on a mop sink. Really had a lot fun, everybody is happy at this place besides this girl on a treadmill. Customers for life.

Finished my day at an old farmhouse owned by a lady with a cool dog. She was gone but I still had fun. The dog had to go out so I called her and asked if I could let the dog out. She thought that was great so that's what I did. Here's a photo.


View attachment 100878

I also uploaded it to my personal Facebook page via smart phone. While I'm working people are engaged with the photo and spreading WOM. All the ladies like little dogs, that's why I posted it. Customers for life.

As I read what you posted I looked back at my day and couldn't find one single thing wrong with it. But I know a plumber personally who would complain about all of it and tell me how people suck and how they are cheap and how they are selfish etc. So who really has the problem?

I just don't see it. I must be blind.

Mike
Mike, I'm a funny, easy going, and down to earth guy too, but that doesn't take away from the fact, that there are lots of ****ty people, looking to hire us for work.

It's a simple fix IMO. ClaytonR touched on it above. Learn who these good clients are, and market to them. If you show up to estimate a job, and the customer is being difficult, you can choose not to work for them.
 

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I find most people are good people. It's really rare for me to work for a jerk. It seems to me that it's usually someone between 35 and 40 that are just beginning to become someone in life and make a little money, and treat people like their "less then". It's an age group that finally has started to figure chit out and are a little cocky. Theres people in this forum that are the same damn way. Of coarse I won't mention names.
 

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Instead of a post on how every customer has an attitude let's instead have a post that asks "how can I be more efficient to service my customers?"

- crickets chirping in background
 

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Most of what I was thinking while reading the OP has been said. While it's true that bad customers are certainly out there, you don't have to work for them. If all you're finding is bad ones, the points above about looking in the mirror are where you'll find the real problem. Life gives back what we put in, but many people refuse to believe that because personal responsibility is a hard pill to swallow.

Clayton's experience reminded me of a time when I was doing in home sales for a very expensive product. Most of the other sales people jumped at the chance to do demos in the "nice" homes in expensive neighborhoods. Fortunately I knew better. Those people had status but it was usually all for show. Sales were rarely made there because those HO's had no disposable income. I preferred average homes in modest neighborhoods and my sales were very good.
 

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20/80/20/1 is my rough estimation.

80 percent of customers I deal with are pretty easy to work with and everything is fine. Included in that group would be 20% who I would say are very easy to work with. Another 20% are difficult, with 1-2% being very difficult.

Same goes for contractors, I reckon. 20% are whiny, 1-2% are very whiny. lol. You can't just harp on and on about having a bad customer once. The trick is learning from that mistake, learning to spot the tells, and bidding those jobs a lot higher next time you run into someone like that, and hopefully they will be a thorn in the side of some young, dumb contractor and not you.
 

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After sleeping on it, I did think of something else in regards to the op, so here's another two cents...

I worked for 12 years for a custom builder who's average house was probably $500,000-$1,000,000. A good many of these were second homes, weekenders, lake homes, etc. These were customers who had a significant disposable income.

I then went to work as a superintendent for a built on your lot homebuilder here in Texas. The average house there was probably in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, and was generally the customer's primary residence. These were mostly people who had figured out the biggest house payment they could afford and were having a house built based on that.

It soon became apparent that the second group was, in general, much harder to work for. I was used to the first group, which was almost across the board, laid back, friendly, easy to work with, etc.

In the second group, it seemed the with majority of customers that I was constantly putting out fires and calming people down over some "crisis". Looking back, I think it stemmed from money problems. For instance, one job needed a septic system that was $1500 more than the owner had thought due to his soil conditions. The owner freaked about this, and blamed (screamed at, actually) me for the plumbing in the house being wrong, for putting his slab too low, for doing the final grade too high, and on and on. Problem was, he didn't have $1500, and he was taking it out on me. It was pretty common also to have people nit pick the construction or finishes (Formica tops don't exactly match the sample type stuff) and try to weasel free upgrades out of it.

The first group of customers, who had money, had no such problems. One guy decided to turn the bonus room space over his 5 car garage into a theater. Cost? Who cares? Do it. On another job we had to put in a $5,000 retaining wall to control water run-off that nobody had foreseen. Customer says no prob, and while we're at it, let's do another $10,000 of retaining walls over here because it could probably use it anyway...

I quickly bolted from the second job, not liking the conditions of working for such people, (amid a host of other retarded corporate minutiae from that company, but that's another story).

Point is, as the general public becomes more and more debt ridden, living from paycheck to paycheck, immediate gratification, entitlement mentality idiots, it may be that more people don't really have the money for the work they want/need done, and take it out on the contractor.

I've made a concerted and focused effort in working for myself to work for people in the first group.
unfortunately what your saying is all to real, that is what is scary I tell you
 

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I thought it was fun. I had great conversations and although I declined to bid, I'll be doing service work at that house eventually. Guaranteed. At the very minimum I made people laugh and in a crowd of grumpy people one thing was for sure is that I made people feel good and lightened up the mood, people never forget how others made them feel. I was the ONE person who changed that. I was the ONE person they will remember.

So I left with a doughnut and helped a lady with a toilet leak. She was a great person who had a great personality. Customer for life.



Mike
Good for you, it's hard to be in a situation like that, but you took the high road and you WILL have more work in the future because of it

My attitude is piss poor at times, specially right now, I'm worn out, but having the right attitude is more or less equal to success.
 

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cbscreative said:
Most of what I was thinking while reading the OP has been said. While it's true that bad customers are certainly out there, you don't have to work for them. If all you're finding is bad ones, the points above about looking in the mirror are where you'll find the real problem. Life gives back what we put in, but many people refuse to believe that because personal responsibility is a hard pill to swallow. Clayton's experience reminded me of a time when I was doing in home sales for a very expensive product. Most of the other sales people jumped at the chance to do demos in the "nice" homes in expensive neighborhoods. Fortunately I knew better. Those people had status but it was usually all for show. Sales were rarely made there because those HO's had no disposable income. I preferred average homes in modest neighborhoods and my sales were very good.
I agree and was thinking as I read some of these comments on where some of these problems come from. I seem to attract ( for the most part) a certain type of customer. And I find that my money is made from people in nice towns but smaller well kept older homes. I 've had people say that they knew we were not going to be cheap from seeing us around town but that isn't why they called us. They called us because we do great work and we give the impression of having our stuff together.
On another note I have found another category of customer to add to the moron list. It's the one that pays attention to every detail of the contract and has you making changes in wording and knows what that contract says from top to bottom. Then you start the job and run into your first extra and all of the sudden they completely forget the contract and play dumb. They are saying things like "I thought that would have been included" when you know damn well they knew exactly what was included when they were negotiating the price.
 
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