Never work for these people
Lately I've beenlistening to contractors who have taken the time to tell me aboutcustomers they will never again work for because they got screwedroyally, and have finally learned their lessons. These contractors areall very sharp businesspeople, and I have collected their wisdom hereso that you may benefit from it. By doing so, you will no doubt takeyour business to whole a new level. I'm just not sure if that’s a goodthing.
Here’s what they’re telling me:
Never work for builders.Builders are horrible people, all born of the same mother, and withSatan as their father. I know this because many smart contractors havetold me so. All any builder cares about is the bottom-line price, andif it's not the lowest price possible you'll never get the job. Theydon't give a hoot about quality, and there's no way to reason with anyof them. If you try to talk to their clients about a better heatingsystem and comfort, the builder will scream at you and tell you thathe's going to blackball you, and he's going to report you to all of hisbrothers or sisters. If you should manage to get around the builder andtalk to the client anyway, the builder will complain when you give himmore money for his cut of the better job. He'll grudging accept theextra bucks, of course, but warn you against ever doing this again. Oh,and a builder will never pay you on time. You'll probably have to takea lien on the house. Never work for a builder. Smart contractors tellme this all the time.
Don’t work in any religious building.Churches, synagogues, mosques – fuggedaboutit! These people have nomoney to begin with, even though they're forever passing the plate.They'll ask you to do wacky stuff, like zoning their gravity-returnsteam systems, and then they'll want you to get rid of the resultingracket in the pipes. And all that follow-up work should be free, ofcourse. They'll want you to defy the laws of physics in the name ofreligion, and they'll convince you that this can be done. They'llpromise you a plenary indulgence for this mitzvah, and they'll appealto your sense of guilt. They'll also subtly let you know that you'regoing to burn in hell for all eternity if you don't do the work at cost(or better). And when things go wrong (as they always will), the holyperson will take you to court and have a team of lawyers (none of whomis working for free) flay the flesh from your weary bones.
Don't work for homeowners.Homeowners are all cheapskates. They'll go to Home Depot or Lowes andget the prices on everything you sell and then beat you over the headwith those numbers. And if you tell them that the home centers don'tsell stuff of the same quality that you provide, and that manufacturersactually have two lines – one for home centers, and another for pros –they'll look at you like you've got two heads. How could this possiblybe? If you charge by the hour, they'll have you mopping the dining roomfloor during those last five minutes, or fixing the roof on the shed.And if you're a flat-rater, they'll call the producers of 48 Hours,as well as the District Attorney. And should you somehow manage toactually get the job, the average homeowner will hang over yourshoulder and breathe down your neck while you’re working, trying tosuck as much knowledge out of your brain as possible so he won't haveto ever hire you again. After all, what's so complicated about what youdo? Steer clear of homeowners.
Just say no to relatives.You can't stand your brother-in-law and neither can anyone else. Hemakes more money than everyone in the family combined, and he's smarterthan the whole bunch of you (just ask him). He doesn't know how tooperate a thermostat, though, so he needs your help, and all the time.He especially needs your help when you're at a family gathering. Canyou just take a minute to look at this? And I think there's a leak inthat crawl space under the million-dollar addition we had built lastsummer. You don't mind going in there, do you? I mean as long as you'rehere. Your clothes aren’t that nice anyway so don't worry about alittle dirt. And he shouldn't have to pay you for any of this, ofcourse. You're family! And then there's Uncle Fred. He's an accountant,but he watches those home-improvement shows on the TV and he knows thatanyone can do what you do. And when he gets a few Scotches in him,he'll be telling you that all night long. But he's got this thermostathe'd like you to look at. Never work for these horrible people.
Don't work for your friends.You could be an award-winning contractor with a PhD in MechanicalEngineering from M.I.T. You could be capable of piping the spaceshuttle and snowmelting all of Greenland. You could be the president ofthe MCA and ASHRAE during the same year, and yet, if your friend shouldask you to change a washer in his faucet, please say no. No matter howgood you are, that job will never work. Why? Because you are workingfor your dear friend, and you are working for free. The faucet willcatch fire after you've worked on it, even though this has neverhappened in the history of the world. It will burn his house to theground and it will be your fault. And why? Because you helped a dearfriend. And he now thinks you suck.
Don't work for the government.Ever see the paperwork involved with government work? Whew! You'll beretired before you ever get paid. You'll have to hire a staff ofsecretaries and accountants just to keep track of the stacks of paper.And no matter what you do, and no matter how good you are, there'sbound to be an investigation somewhere along the way, and you'll findyourself talking to the Grand Jury. You'll also be invited to partieshosted by friends of politicians. You'll have to go, of course, and thetickets will be just $2,500 each. For this, you may get a corkscrew ora beach chair, depending on the generosity of the politician. Manycontractors have warned me about government work, so pay heed.
Never work for institutions.Just as bad as the government, and I know this is true because manycontractors have told me so. Institutions have people on staff who aresupposed to do what you get hired to do. The institution is hiring youbecause the staff actually can't do the work, but the staff will followyou around and tell you that you're doing it all wrong. Staff figuresthat if they can't do, it can't be done, so you're a threat to theirjobs the moment you show up. They'll complain about you, and managementwill listen because if they don't listen it will mean that management,was dumb to hire the staff in the first place. And we can't have that.When you're done, staff will tell management that you did it all wrong,and that they should withhold payment until you make things better,which is impossible. Don't work for institutions.
Don’t work for commercial-property owners.Once you're done working for these stinkers they'll hold your money foryears. They'll want to make sure everything works right, and there'salways going to be a tenant who complains about whatever you did, andthat's the owner's eternal reason not to pay you. You'll have to takehim to court, and good luck with that because it's going to be likeopening an artichoke to get to the core of all the shell corporationsthat stand between you and your payday. Don’t ever work for commercialproperty owners.
Never work for charities. Thesepeople expect you to donate your time and money, and for what? A goodcause? How the heck are you supposed to make a living working for agood cause? No, you should go work for people who will appreciate yourwork, and your hard-earned skills, and pay you on time.
Good luck finding them.