New Business Owner Offers Perspective Regarding Reputation Of Construction Industry
Guest Blogger: Randy Strauss is a new handyman business owner trying to find his way in the age of social media and 30 minute pizza delivery. When he is not repairing other people’s homes, he tries to find time to repair his own.
As a consumer, I preferred to do everything myself rather than hire someone to do it. There are times when I’ve hired people to do work when I didn’t have the necessary skills and sometimes it was just cost effective to have a crew do it in a day or two when I knew it would take me a week doing it by myself.
Most of my experience with contractors has been from a consumer perspective. Those experiences have run the gamut of “outstanding” when jobs were completed in the blink of any eye and a minimum of dust to “outrage” when an HVAC contractor told me to go “F” myself when I asked him to honor his one year warranty.
In November of 2012 I was unemployed and carpet bombing every job ad in sight was exhausting. So, I decided to start a handyman business. My experiences using contractors motivated me to do so because I saw an opportunity needing to be filled.
Using What I Learned as a Consumer
Now that I’m working in other people’s homes, I can use that perspective to manage my clients’ expectations, perform work that meets my standards, and finish the day satisfied that I do good work. When I’m not working, I do research to better myself as a business owner and contractor.
During this research, I read a few blog entries on this site regarding Chris Dietz’s lawsuit filed against a customer who allegedly posted libelous comments about his work on review websites. The posts from fellow contractors were generally positive, but I noticed that supportive comments were conditional. For instance, “…providing he’s telling the truth…” and “…as long as he’s honest…”
Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, which I understand may be ultimately fruitless; we are still faced with cynicism about our profession.
That is a black cloud of distrust hovering over our industry. That sense of distrust has led us to lead generation review websites such as Angie’s List and Yelp. When fellow contractors feel the need to put conditions on support for one of our own, it reeks of skepticism.
I believe those doubts are founded in two fallacies:
- The customer is always right. No, they’re not. They may have the right to decide the paint color or the tile selection, but when they ask us to remove a load-bearing wall because they want to “open the space” they are quite simply wrong. It’s our responsibility to educate them why.
- Customers have a right to freedom of speech. They do. But, that right is worthless without the responsibility of truth. No one has the right to slander or libel another person.
To be honest, I’m terrified of working for that client that has nothing better to do than bad mouth my new found profession. I hope I never meet them.
What can, should we do?
If you go to someone’s house to repair something that another contractor ruined, tell them to follow up with a complaint to the BBB. Follow up with that yourself. By getting rid of the bad actors, we can ensure respect and trust in the future. Perhaps a self-regulating entity might not be such a bad idea in light of the above. So, my questions to you are these: What can we do to improve the perception of our profession? What would make the average consumer, and us at times, less likely to believe that a contractor ripped off a client? Doesn’t it make your blood boil that you are less likely to be trusted in someone’s home because profit happy thugs with hammers and a screwdrivers have ruined the reputation of our professionalism?