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February 6, 2010 7:00 AM CST

If you Want Happy Customers, Focus on Their Good Qualities First, Yours Later

Contractor tip of the month

By

Do your customers know you are thrilled to be doing their work? Do you win them over by bragging about all the things they are doing right on the project? Or, do you just complain about everything they do, and then ask them for that next extra work order? In a nutshell, are you complaining all the time, but then asking them to pay you extra to put up with you longer?

You hear it all the time. Contractors or their foremen brag about how they don’t take any guff off the general contractor or the owner they are working for. They say things like, “I am not putting up with the stupid safety rules they have,” or, “The superintendent is an idiot who doesn’t know squat about building a building.” (I can’t argue that I have met many GC superintendents who should not be running a project, but complaining about it to everyone on the job doesn’t make your job go smoother. In fact, it causes you more headaches than it’s worth.) It never fails: At some point, later in the conversation, the mason contractor doing the complaining will mention that the same individual he is complaining about won’t approve a draw request or extra work order in a timely manner or not at all. Folks, it doesn’t add up!

It’s not really rocket science. In fact, at age 10, my oldest daughter, Kaylee, already knew that you get more from someone by bragging on his good points than you do by putting him down. I came home from an eight-day business trip a while back, I found a large note on the kitchen table that said, “Welcome back, Dad! I love you, you’re great, you rock, I love u, you are the best dad ever, from Kaylee, more information on back.”

So, feeling like a million bucks, I turned the paper over and it said, “Dear dad, welcome back, there R some things we need to talk about. I have a spring dance I would like to go to Friday 7-9. And by the way, I will try to keep my grades up but, I got 2 Cs on my mid-term, sorry!”

Do you suppose I gave her a hard time for her grades? And, do you think I let her go to the spring dance? You’re right! The Cs felt like As in my mind, even though I tried not to show her I was not okay them. And, I couldn’t wait to tell her she could go to the spring dance.

Sorry, but once you sign that contract and the job is started, in most cases, “It is what it is.” You may have to deal with an idiot running the job. You may be dealing with a GC who wants to squeeze every dime he can out of you. Or, the job may not be what you thought it was when you bid it. However, complaining only makes matters worse. You will be served much better by bragging on the good parts of the project and the person running it than you will by crying like a baby. Make the best of the job by taking the high road. If you focus on the positive, you will fare much better in the end. (You could always ask Kaylee to help you find the good in the people you are working for. She’s one smart cookie.)


About the Author

Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at dlang@langmasonry.com or 740-749-3512.

 

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IMS Masonry, Inc.
MCAA member since 1996

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