I am DONE - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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I am DONE

I'm done being nice guy to people who live in $350,000 homes and want to plead poverty to me. "Can you use the cheapest possible materials and make it look like a million bucks?" No..No wait.. HELL NO..
I was pretty much forced to kick a customer off the property today after I has been nice to them and offered to do extra work because the original job was slapped together micky mousier then Donald Duck. I felt sorry for her so I'm out there sweating like a pig in 100 degree heat and she has the nerve to demand I have the job done today when the only way that was gonna happen was if I just walked away which I finally did.
Man...I really have to wonder what goes on in people's minds to think we should work free or close to it with the absolute cheapest materials and want it yesterday..
Rant over.. Now I can return to fixing MY stuff and forgetting dumb***** customers.. Jeeeeez!
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post #2 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 04:20 PM
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Why did they want you done today?
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post #3 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 04:53 PM
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Well understood and been there, as well.

Years ago a guy demanded his two genuine Baroque period chairs I was repairing two weeks before the promised deadline. He just showed up with his entourage to make his demands so he could impress them with his 'power' over me. I had given him a timeframe of about 4 weeks so I reminded him he was two weeks early and he actually said, 'I don't think you understand who I am!' I replied that I cared less and less by the minute who he was but I had a solution; I put his very valuable chairs out on the loading dock and told him to leave with his chairs.

Our shop wasn't in the best area and things left outside usually walked off. He didn't have room in his little Mercedes for his entourage and the chairs so the chairs sat outside on the dock while he ran his people back to his office, hoping the chairs would be there when he returned. When he came back an hour later he apologized and offered me about 5 times the original quoted price - I declined and he took his chairs.

Sometimes you just have to fire the customer.

David
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post #4 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 05:12 PM
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I figured this was only a problem with my trade, HVAC.

Its why I stopped doing residential work. Get a call in the middle of the night saying its freezing, get there and find 1 of 4 furnaces is not working, and its one for a barely used room. Whatever, Im there. Find whatever part is bad, give a price upfront for the repair. Make the repair, then get the sob story about how they are broke, or there cousin so and so whos in the business said it should be x dollars.

Yeah, right. Your living room is bigger then my entire house, and that faucet over there is at least 2k. I can tell your hurting. Why not have your cousin so and so come out in the middle of the night?

Still get cheap skates in commercial/industrial work, but generally I personally dont have to deal with that cause billing is done after the fact. I just fix it. In the residential world, almost always had to collect at time of service, and that sucked.


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post #5 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furnacefighter15 View Post
I figured this was only a problem with my trade, HVAC.

Its why I stopped doing residential work. Get a call in the middle of the night saying its freezing, get there and find 1 of 4 furnaces is not working, and its one for a barely used room. Whatever, Im there. Find whatever part is bad, give a price upfront for the repair. Make the repair, then get the sob story about how they are broke, or there cousin so and so whos in the business said it should be x dollars.

Yeah, right. Your living room is bigger then my entire house, and that faucet over there is at least 2k. I can tell your hurting. Why not have your cousin so and so come out in the middle of the night?

Still get cheap skates in commercial/industrial work, but generally I personally dont have to deal with that cause billing is done after the fact. I just fix it. In the residential world, almost always had to collect at time of service, and that sucked.


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You get paid to show up?
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post #6 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Rebelwork View Post
You get paid to show up?

Yes, as an employee. But if your the sole proprietor, and dont get paid, then you dont.

And there is very little recourse. I know one guy that will remove the parts if someone refuses to pay, but at times he has to wait for police to show up so he can do it.

If he were to leave the site, and then try to get the parts back later, then its considered theft.


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post #7 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 07:24 PM
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Its even worse now because of the internet. Residential companies live and die from reviews. You could do a stellar job, and have some dispute over whatever, usually money related, and be labeled a reprobate on every social media outlet there is.

Alternatively you could be the worst HVAC company and get great reviews by paying for them, or using firms to generate them and overide any real negative feedback.


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post #8 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 08:36 PM
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My son in law did snow plowing as a side job. one customer was given a price and he did his driveway, when he went to collect he was given half of the original price and the owner wouldn't pay any more, he refused to accept it. So he went and moved all the snow he plowed back into the driveway plus some more.
I have very good clientele and I charge a very reasonable fee which is why I get a lot of repeat work and good referrals, for some of my best customers I will sometimes do a freebee for a simple job, I can read people pretty good and when I have a bad feeling I turn down the job.
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post #9 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 08:51 PM
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I've got this going on right now. Made 4 sets if custom doors. One had an issue so I said pay me for the 3 sets now. And pay the last when it's done. Haven't seen any money last time I do that. Problem is I cant be too much of an ass because she knows the wife via work.

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post #10 of 28 Old 07-28-2020, 11:20 PM
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Bill time and materials. Get 35% of the projected total up front for materials and operating expenses. If it's a job that lasts awhile, get progress payments for labor every 2 weeks, and any extra amount left from the material deposit gets balanced out at the end.


What I've learned over my 27 years in business: If you want to be paid properly, you must be a consummate professional. Communicate clearly and accurately. You do NOT owe anybody discounted rates. What you do owe them is doing the best work you are capable of. No matter what you are charging. If you are setting the rate, then you are the one responsible if you are being underpaid for the work. If they don't want to pay your rate, then either give them a discounted rate and don't complain about it, or walk away. When you submit an invoice, don't be afraid to be somewhat detailed about how you spent your time. Most people have no clue of how many steps it takes to do one "simple" thing. Spell it out. Keep detailed time sheets. If they have a problem with the time/cost, offer to go over your time sheets with them.


If your customer wants something unconventional, instead of telling them that it cannot be done that way, explain to them any reasons why it usually is not done that way, and if it's done that way, what potential issues may arise. Educate them and let them make educated decisions. It helps with the bottom line.



Also, and this is very important, when you meet with a potential customer, LISTEN to them. Much of the time, they only have a vague sense of what they want, and if you proceed on guess work, you will have problems. It is your job to help them clarify what they want, and then to make that manifest. The more closely you listen, the more likely you will be to understand what they want, and to deliver it. If that happens, MOST of the customers will be so pleased that you will not have any issues about money with them. I have been told time and time again by so many customers that they are so happy and appreciative, because someone finally, actually LISTENED to them.


All that said, there are still a few people who will jerk you around, no matter what. In 27 years, I've encountered that twice. Get done what you have to get done, collect what pay you can get from them, and get them out of your life. And it is okay to explain to them, in a calm and reasonable manner (remember, you are a PROFESSIONAL) exactly why you are doing so. You may want to scream and yell and name call, but don't do it. You may think it might feel good at the time, but you will feel poorly about yourself later. They are not worth it. Move on, learn from it, and do better next time.



IMO, based on 27 years in business and 58 years in life.
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post #11 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 02:03 AM
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Just sayin. . . .

First in California, a contractor is allowed to charge 10% up front or $1000, which ever is less.
Second, payments are set up as a schedule. Usually 1/3 when materials are delivered, 1/3 at some point of completion and a final payment.

I have no problem with that. Some contractors do and some customers also.

Worth considering.

Rich
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post #12 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 05:30 AM
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As a summer job before senior year, I was a plumbers helper. One of the jobs I went on was to repair copper pipes that had burst the winter before from freezing. The plumber told me about a job to thaw pipes at a home where the owner had taken a long time to pay for the previous job. Our boss told him not to leave without money for this present job. After he finished thawing the pipes with a machine like an arc welder, the lady was acting reluctant to pay. The plumber told her that if she didn't pay now, he was going to hook the machine up backwards and re-freeze the pipes! She gave him the money.
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post #13 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
Bill time and materials. Get 35% of the projected total up front for materials and operating expenses. If it's a job that lasts awhile, get progress payments for labor every 2 weeks, and any extra amount left from the material deposit gets balanced out at the end.


What I've learned over my 27 years in business: If you want to be paid properly, you must be a consummate professional. Communicate clearly and accurately. You do NOT owe anybody discounted rates. What you do owe them is doing the best work you are capable of. No matter what you are charging. If you are setting the rate, then you are the one responsible if you are being underpaid for the work. If they don't want to pay your rate, then either give them a discounted rate and don't complain about it, or walk away. When you submit an invoice, don't be afraid to be somewhat detailed about how you spent your time. Most people have no clue of how many steps it takes to do one "simple" thing. Spell it out. Keep detailed time sheets. If they have a problem with the time/cost, offer to go over your time sheets with them.


If your customer wants something unconventional, instead of telling them that it cannot be done that way, explain to them any reasons why it usually is not done that way, and if it's done that way, what potential issues may arise. Educate them and let them make educated decisions. It helps with the bottom line.



Also, and this is very important, when you meet with a potential customer, LISTEN to them. Much of the time, they only have a vague sense of what they want, and if you proceed on guess work, you will have problems. It is your job to help them clarify what they want, and then to make that manifest. The more closely you listen, the more likely you will be to understand what they want, and to deliver it. If that happens, MOST of the customers will be so pleased that you will not have any issues about money with them. I have been told time and time again by so many customers that they are so happy and appreciative, because someone finally, actually LISTENED to them.


All that said, there are still a few people who will jerk you around, no matter what. In 27 years, I've encountered that twice. Get done what you have to get done, collect what pay you can get from them, and get them out of your life. And it is okay to explain to them, in a calm and reasonable manner (remember, you are a PROFESSIONAL) exactly why you are doing so. You may want to scream and yell and name call, but don't do it. You may think it might feel good at the time, but you will feel poorly about yourself later. They are not worth it. Move on, learn from it, and do better next time.



IMO, based on 27 years in business and 58 years in life.

Very well written. The "LISTEN" part cannot be over emphasized. You will not only learn about just how the prospective client want the project completed, you will learn a lot about your clients attitude. You may learn something that will tell you that you do not want this client.


This applies in many/most walks of life, not just woodworking. In 18 years of owning a retain business I saw that it operated there.


Listening is an art. Develop your skill.


George
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post #14 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 07:04 AM
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For me it is not a business, just extra cash income and I enjoy it. I know I'm 1/4 of the cost restoring/refinishing compared to local businesses which is why I get a lot of work and referrals and people don't complain about paying. I have been told I'm too cheap and on occasion have been payed extra.
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post #15 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 09:12 AM
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I hired an engineer and contractor to build a room addition. I remember discussing with the contractor the plans and layout. At the end he said something that stuck, Ill never forget it.

"Whatever changes you decide to make as we go on is fine but don't make me pay for your loft."

I think a lot of customers half expect free changes or upgrades as they go along, whether its extra trim work or design work. Very unfair to the contractor. In my case, I did change a few things and added a walk in closet, etc etc. and I appreciated that he told me up front about the costs changing so that I was aware and expected it.
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post #16 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 10:50 AM
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Same question.... why did they want it done that day?
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post #17 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 05:46 PM
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When you work for builders you get nothing down and may have to wait for the pay period to get payed which could be a month....
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post #18 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 07:40 PM
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Your post reminds me of my first side job. I was a carpenter apprentice in my second year when mom asked me if I could install cafe doors for her friend. First I went to the lumber yard and asked " what is a cafe door". Joe said they were the same as the saloon doors on "Gunsmoke and other western shows".
I go to my moms friends house , measure the opening. This was in 1964 , I gave her a price for labor and material.
I do not recall how much it was but I worked cheap. Mostly because I did not know any better.
On Saturday i install the doors, went easy and quick. She said I did a nice job , but went so fast that she cut my labor cost by $10.00. Arguing with this woman was not fruitful. I removed the doors , put them in the trunk of my car and took off.
Police met me in the driveway, she told them I stole her doors. Told cops I paid for the doors, then explained why I removed them.
Cops said this is for a civil court , they left.
Mom was furious at her now ex- friend. Woman calls and says she will pay full price, I tell her that the price is double and I get paid in cash before I open the trunk.
After a long pause she told me to go hell.
I never did install those doors, don't know what I did with them.
mike
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post #19 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwoodhands View Post
Your post reminds me of my first side job. I was a carpenter apprentice in my second year when mom asked me if I could install cafe doors for her friend. First I went to the lumber yard and asked " what is a cafe door". Joe said they were the same as the saloon doors on "Gunsmoke and other western shows".
I go to my moms friends house , measure the opening. This was in 1964 , I gave her a price for labor and material.
I do not recall how much it was but I worked cheap. Mostly because I did not know any better.
On Saturday i install the doors, went easy and quick. She said I did a nice job , but went so fast that she cut my labor cost by $10.00. Arguing with this woman was not fruitful. I removed the doors , put them in the trunk of my car and took off.
Police met me in the driveway, she told them I stole her doors. Told cops I paid for the doors, then explained why I removed them.
Cops said this is for a civil court , they left.
Mom was furious at her now ex- friend. Woman calls and says she will pay full price, I tell her that the price is double and I get paid in cash before I open the trunk.
After a long pause she told me to go hell.
I never did install those doors, don't know what I did with them.
mike

YES! THIS! THAT'S how ya' do it!
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post #20 of 28 Old 07-29-2020, 09:39 PM
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All of this reminds me of the computer industry before the PC revolution.

A popular scenario was a consultant would hook up with a mini-computer manufacturer and write software for the client who would purchase the system from the manufacturer.

There were good consultants and great consultants. The smarter ones wrote software per a written specification. The bad consultants would write software that looked like as specified but the implied work behind the glitz and glamour was not really there.

There was one client that sued every one that he ever engaged in an effort to reduce the bill. None of the vast plethora of consultants would work for this guy. While I wasn't a consultant I did do some work on the side. This guy called me requesting some work to be done. He threatened to sue me for not accepting his offer of work. I just laughed and hung up the phone.

Then I called several of the consultants that I knew and enquired of the guy. Basically all said, "Bad news."
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