“Success leaves clues,” it is often said. Here’s how to tell the ethical contractors from the scam artists.
By Steve Maxwell
Last year, I was asked to give my professional opinion on four renovation disasters in which contractors had left their customers high and dry with shoddy work.
At least one of the bad guys was simply incompetent. Another was a crook that walked off with tens of thousands of dollars of client money without doing any work. Another of the bad guys was a truly spectacular loser. He had squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars on a three quarter million dollar renovation job, forcing the homeowners to refinance their property so they could complete the project properly starting from scratch.
Now, beyond the basics facts of these shameful disasters, I don’t know anything about these bad guys. They’re long gone. But I did get to know – and pretty well – each of the four good guy contractors who were hired to clean up the messes. The qualities they exhibit have something to teach every contractor looking to up their game.
First, the good guys were all on the ball. They were just great to work with. Here I was, bugging these busy men for details about a relatively minor video project, yet they made time for me. My emails were answered, phone calls happened as scheduled, and details got settled in good time. No excuses, just results.
The good guys also understand the value of the digital world. They all have outstanding websites; they make adept use of digital communications; they have an above-average understanding of the power of video as a tool of persuasion. They’ve all invested in professionally-designed logos. From wall to wall, they’ve built class outfits.
Commitment to proper workflow and documentation is one of the biggest differences between the good guys and the bad guys. All four of the men I dealt with understood that proper projects involve significant paperwork at the beginning and end. Where the bad guys all fired up the tools prematurely, the good guys created scope of work documents, got the jobs properly engineered and reported regularly on their progress. The good guys also collected testimonials and images after the work was done to boost sales.
The good guys I worked with all have good hearts. When the owner of one company heard that a deadbeat contractor had left construction debris all over the yard of a homeowner before walking out, he dispatched two of his guys to pick up and haul away the trash for free. Another good guy I met spent hours reviewing materials with an owner who has extreme environmental sensitivities. One good guy orchestrated volunteer labor and materials to rebuild the home of a penniless single mother who’d lost an insurance payout to a bad guy.
One reason Canada is a better country to live in than most is because we are a more honest nation than most. International surveys prove it. Being a good guy contractor goes a long way to keeping our country something to be proud of.