Michael Stone on Character Matters

Does character matter? If you’re a business owner, yes, your character matters.

You can’t always determine if the person you are about to do business with is ethical or not. That’s why every job requires a clear contract. But you do know whether or not you are ethical. Whether or not you choose to operate your business with integrity or not is within your control.

Take, for instance, contracts. I’ve seen many contracts with a lot of gray area included. The contractor isn’t sure how to do something or they want wiggle room down the road if necessary to save money. They write a contract that gives them all the room in the world to build the job any way they want.

One example would be a contract that states, “Contractor will furnish and install new countertops in the kitchen with an installed allowance amount of $17.50 per square foot.” There isn’t any mention of the number of square feet of countertop to be installed, let alone material specification, backsplashes, edging, finish, etc.

In production, some contractors will cut corners where it won’t be noticed. For example, skimping on the thickness of blanket insulation that is being installed on a job, knowing full well it won’t be inspected and the client won’t know better.

Do you treat your clients right? Do you return their phone calls, keep all your appointments on time, and do what you said you would do? How about your employees? This includes having an employee manual so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind what the company policy is on most issues. A solid employee manual that documents your company policies and explains what happens “if” protects both you and your employees.

Along the same lines, you should have a manual in place that governs your work with your subcontractors. Do you communicate, keeping them posted and up to date on all the jobs? Ditto with your suppliers. Do you pay both on time and as agreed, or do you constantly look for ways to pay them late, not in full or at all?

On the personal side, are you spending quality time with your family or do they come in a distant third behind you and your business? Personal relationships will deteriorate if they aren’t taken care of, and the result is often divorce.

Many of you have heard me say, “As your marriage goes, so goes your business”. Your marriage reflects you as a person – just like your business reflects you. The type of person you are will show in the strength of your marriage and in the strength of your business.

I’m not saying that if your business is suffering, end the marriage so the business can improve. If your marriage is a mess and your business is a mess, look at yourself before you start blaming your partner. Unless and until you start treating your spouse like the beautiful person they are, little else in your business or marriage will improve.

In my opinion, if you can’t treat your spouse right, you’re probably also not treating your employees, your specialty contractors or your customers with the respect they deserve.

Character matters because what you do every day adds up. Some of the things you think you are doing in the dark will come out in the light. Make sure when you look in the mirror, the person staring back at you has good character. You and that character can then build a solid and profitable business.


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