A reader sent this email in response to our newsletter:
Hello Michael, thanks for the newsletter. It is always insightful and very informative.
Here is an other example of a client taking charge, I received this one last week. After a very nice brief conversation on the phone, I asked the potential client to email me his address. What he sent is below, the demands didn't sound too bad, if we were planning to build a house or an addition. Here it is:
Please could you provide:
financial references from suppliers/ bank
list and contact details of previous clients
if and when we go further, a written quote with materials, labor, profit margins
how you normally set up your payment schedule
information about your insurance for worker's comp, property damage and personal liability (please provide name of insurance carrier). Also details of license.
proof of universal use of lien releases
how many other projects would you have going on normally at the same time?
how long have you worked with your subcontractors?
I may wish to visit a current site
I look forward to these answers before we move forward meaningfully. There will be various different aspects to the work required that we can discuss tomorrow.
Again, most of this doesn't sound unreasonable, until you consider the scope of the project. He contacted me to open a wall between the kitchen and the dining room in his small condo. He told me that he thought the work would take 7-10 days to complete. From our conversation, I estimated it would take about 3 weeks. He also mentioned that he had most of the subs lined up, but would like to get prices from mine, just to compare.
Boils down to a whole lot of work to bid on a 3 week project I will only get nickled and dimed on. I politely declined the meeting with him, not to waste another minute of my time.
This contractor did the right thing. I appreciate that potential clients are educated on how to make sure they aren't dealing with a flake - asking about previous clients, insurance information, etc. Now they need to be educated on how business operates - why would a contractor go to all this work just to help the homeowner get a lower price from his subs?