Markup & Profit

Monday, October 23, 2006


Markup and Profit is a new feature to FenceWeek. Michael Stone is a coach and consulant for construction companies throughout the U.S. . Although the advice is not specific to the fence industry, we hope you agree that is advice is spot on.

A coaching client recently talked to me about a client being rude and nasty with both her and her husband. Maybe their client had a right to be upset, maybe not. Either way, this could have been prevented.

Sometime during the first call, the salesperson for the company needs to be sure the potential customer understands that you are not "whipping boys/girls". You need to impart to them they do not have the right to heap abuse on you as if they had some inalienable right to be nasty to you because you are a contractor.

Do this by explaining nicely, but firmly, that if they have any questions, concerns, or something they don't understand or like, they are to call you immediately. Tell them you will respond immediately. Let them know that you are a professional and will behave in a professional manner, and expect the same from all your customers. Explain that you will not respond to nasty phone calls, mean e-mails, scathing faxes. If there is a problem, you will come over and get it resolved immediately. (And do it! You can't give this talk unless you follow through!)

Now, they may or may not hear you, so it is possible they will get upset during the job and come at you with a nasty attitude. Your next stop is dead center in front of them. Politely remind them of the conversation about treating you with respect, just the way you treat them, and that if the nasty stuff continues, you will shut the job down until they clean up their attitude.

Now, you must also have a clause in your contract that states that in case of any disputes between the customer and you, or if the customer treats you in an unreasonable manner or does not abide by the letter of the contract, you have the right to shut the job down until all issues are resolved.

Conduct yourself as a professional at all times, and expect the same from your customers.


A nice young fellow wrote in recently asking about appointment times. It seems that most of his potential customers want to see him in the evening or on weekends.

That is going to happen in this business. Part of the reason is the belief that contractors should be at the beck and call of their customer. But since most of your clientele needs a job to pay for their home, it's not unusual for them to not be available during business hours.

Try this. If someone asks for a late appointment, respond with, "We try to set our appointments during normal business hours." Now, that will work sometimes and they will pick a time that is good for you. If they say they can't get free during the day, ask if they can meet you during the lunch hour? But be prepared, because if you set that appointment, you will have to cover a lot of ground quickly (in an hour or less) and make a decision if you want to spend more time pursuing that job.

You also might want to consider changing your market. Write down your perfect customer and focus your advertising on that customer. You will see a difference in the calls you get. You might also want to read about our advertising manual. It will help you determine your perfect customer and how to advertise to them.

But sometimes you just have to take inconvenient appointments. It's part of the business. Be flexible

Disclaimer: Nothing in this newsletter is intended to be, or may be construed as, legal advice. I am not an attorney. You must consult an attorney before using any suggested language or any other information contained in this newsletter to determine if it conforms to your state laws or your particular situation.

Construction Programs & Results © 2006. All rights reserved.


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