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10 Sign’s You’re Playing The Game of Contractor Roulette

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Aug 29,2013 @ 06:00 AM

10 Sign’s You’re Playing The Game of Contractor Roulette

Contractor Roulette wheel


Most contractors are great craftsman but terrible at accounting and financial management.   Most can build a house from the ground up without any plans but have no clue how to identify and create the financial reports they need to know whether they are making or losing money. 

Building or remodeling a house without any idea of whether you are making money or not, and if you will be able to pay all the bills as they come due, is like spinning a roulette wheel at the casino.   You put money down, spin the wheel and hope to make money.  Problem is that you have no idea or control over where the wheel will stop.   If you run out of money the casino is happy to let someone else step in, lay down some money and do the spinning. 

Like most gamblers, contractors always brag when they win, but never want to talk about it when they lose.


Contractor Roulette Is Not A Good Gamble

If it sounds like I'm describing you and your business you are playing what I call "Contractor Roulette".   Sure, once in a while you may win, and even win big.  But remember the odds are with the casino.   How about you?  Have you been spinning and winning or has the “casino” been winning and encouraging you to keep playing?


My list of 10 signs you’re spinning the “Contractor Roulette Wheel”

  1. You lose sleep at night worrying about money.
  2. You have no idea what markup to use.
  3. You think margin and markup are interchangeable terms.
  4. You never know if you will have enough money to pay your bills until they're paid.  Again
  5. You guess at project payment schedule amounts and when they're due.  As a result you constantly suffer from cash flow challenges.
  6. financial mistakes contractors makeWhen a prospect asks you if you will match someone else’s price for the same job you figure if the other guy can do it for that price so can you, so you say yes.
  7. You are always putting the whip to your production employees to beat the labor allowance in your estimate because you need to make up for dropping the price of the job just so you could sell it.  Again.
  8. Even though you got price quotes for the materials before you sold the job, after you take the job you either bid the materials out to a get a lower price or beat your vendors up to sell them to you for less than they already quoted you.  Again.
  9. You do little or no marketing so you have to try to sell to everyone who contacts you, even if you have a feeling they will try to beat you out of any profit.  Again.
  10. You need to sell a job this weekend and get a deposit just so you will have enough money to meet last week’s payroll.  Again.


Strive to become a Big 50 Remodeler

Big 50 class of 2013If you believe in the idea of relative success, where you convince yourself you are doing pretty well if you compare your results to other contractors who are doing far worse than you, then maybe you can be happy staying where you are regarding financial management at your business.  On the other hand, if you want to measure your success against truly successful contractors, perhaps use Remodeling Magazine’s Big 50 list as your reference.  To qualify for that list you need to be making a decent net profit.



There is hope!

Financial advice for contractorsIf you have been playing Contractor Roulette here is a simple three-step plan to help you end your gambling habit:


  1. Admit you have a gambling problem and commit to do something about it.
  2. Get the professional help you need to help you stop gambling and eliminate the causes of your gambling addiction.
  3. Find someone you can trust to hold you accountable to doing what it will take to make the switch.



Related articles:

The Five Biggest Financial Related Mistakes Contractors Make

Remodelers: I Bet You Don’t Know Your True Burdened Labor Costs

Five Ways To Think Like A Business For Business Owners


Topics: Business Financials, Pop Quizes, Success Strategies, Financial Related Topics, Earning More Money, Sage Advice, Self Quizes

Pop Quiz: How well do you remember your RRP Training?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 31,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Pop Quiz: How well do you remember your RRP Training?  Are You At Risk For Fines?

RRP Refresher Training


One of the requirements of the RRP rule is that certified renovators, those who took the required training and passed the test to become certified to perform and supervise RRP work, must take required RRP refresher training to renew their certification every five years.   Many contractors feel the refresher training requirement is ridiculous and or unnecessary.   What about you?


Here’s a pop quiz of RRP related questions you can take to see if you would need refresher training; after the five years, but maybe even right now!   Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answer key (no cheating!).


RRP Pop Quiz


RRP Pop Quiz

1.  Under the RRP Rule, which type of sanding activity can be used when lead-based paint could be present on the surface to be sanded?  

A.    Wet sanding by hand

B.    Dry sanding by hand

C.    Power sanding with a palm sander

D.   Both A and B


2.  Which of the following is the best way offered below to control lead dust?                                                                                

A.    Using HEPA-vacuum to clean up debris

B.    Spraying your work area with water

C.    Sweeping dry debris with a fine bristle broom

D.    Spraying your work area with water and using a HEPA vacuum to clean up debris




3.  OSHA requires the use of respiratory protection for workers if the actual airborne level of lead that will be created is not known.        

A.    True

B.    False



4.  Lead exposure presents the greatest risk to:                                                                                                                                               

ZRRP Refresher trainingA.    Grown adults

B.    Workers who disturb lead painted surfaces

C.    Minorities

D.    Women once over 50 years old

E.    Both children and pregnant women


5.  Which answer below is not true?

A.   The RRP Rule does not apply if only 4 ft/sq of lead paint coated surfaces will be disturbed in a single interior room.

B.   The RRP Rule does not apply if only 10 ft/sq of lead paint coated surfaces will be disturbed on a building’s exterior.

C.   If a home was built before 1978, but the deck I am replacing the decking on was built in 1985, the RRP rule does not apply.

D.   If I am doing an emergency repair, the RRP work practices do not apply, but I must still use the required cleaning practices and cleaning verification process.


Six ways you can get RRP Refresher information right away

  1. You can find RRP refresher information at the Refresher Information Tag of RRPedia, your Interactive Resource for EPA RRP Information
  2. Watch a series of short videos about the RRP Rule to get an overview of business and work practice considerations
  3. Watch a recorded webinar about OSHA Related Compliance when doing RRP Work
  4. Read an RRP Summary written for Remodelers, or download it to your computer at the same page
  5. Download EPA RRP Tools and Supplies Shopping List for Remodelers
  6. You can attend a workshop about the differences between the MA RRP Rule and the EPA RRP Rule


JLC Live RRP TrainingNot certified Yet? 

I will be conducting the RRP Certified Renovator class at the JLC LIVE in Providence RI on March 20, 2013.   This class is recognized for MA, RI and EPA administered programs.


Answers to RRP Pop Quiz as follows:

RRP test questions#1 = D

#2 = D

#3 = A

#4 = E

#5 = C


Topics: Pop Quizes, RRP Related