I had a couple interesting conversations today. One was with a vendor, another a subcontractor.
Though they don’t know each other, the conversations were strikingly similar. More or less centering around the growing frustration among building contractors when it comes to their clients. “In the last 3 or 4 years, customers have just become impossible to deal with”, one said. For the most part, I sadly have to agree.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have made many a lifelong friend in this industry. We still have customers that are thankful, appreciative, understand the reality of building one of the last things completed with real human hands, and accept the challenges that every job is faced with as part of the process. That type of customer is becoming increasingly rare however.
Honestly, I blame HGTV and Pinterest.
Unreal expectations. Short memories…especially around anything that costs money. Robot driven perfection. We are often set up with an impossible to win scenario from the start. Nearly everyone thinks they know how to do our job. I can’t fathom what doctors face every day from self diagnosing patients. We spend the vast majority of our time explaining why we are doing something, instead of just doing it.
Namely, our issues stem from people who are “project managers” of one type or another. Usually at a bank. They are used to bossing around people who are employees, and will lose their jobs if they don’t comply. In fact just today I was told, “Can’t you just tell him when he needs to be done by?”, speaking of our trim carpenter.
No. You can’t.
These people aren’t employees. There is a fine line between pressing someone to finish and them walking away. The reality is, nobody in this market needs the work. They have more than they can handle. Press too hard and…poof. You’re looking for a new sub.
Does that save anyone involved time or money? No.
Did you think of that before asking why we can’t just demand he finish? No.
Is that kind of attitude why you wouldn’t last a year in this industry? Absolutely…but again… you know better than I.
Is it a coincidence that when we build spec homes, the projects usually come in more or less on time and on budget? We finish the home, someone loves it, buys it, done and done. It’s the same team building every house… what’s the difference when we are working for Mr. Customer….other than Mr. Customer?
Don’t even get me started about trying to collect money….
Last week I was speaking with an attorney friend of mine about one of our ongoing projects and he said, “Rodric, I just wasn’t raised that way. So it’s hard for me to understand how someone can have something done, and just not pay for it”. I couldn’t agree more, and guess that’s what makes him good at his job.
The truth is, I still love building houses. Watching projects go from paper to reality has provided some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. But people. My god the people. They’ve taken every bit of joy away from this industry. Thanks Chip and Joanna.
See you on the journey…
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