10 ways to be the best contractor you can be

The job you are doing for them might not be a huge deal to you, but to your customer, it is their whole world at that time.

Improving as a contractor takes time, professionalism and practice. But there are a few rules that hold true no matter what segment of the market you cover. Here are my top 10 guidelines to being the best contractor you can be. Put these practices into your procedures and make the most of them!

1. Know the product that you are installing.

Attend manufacturers’ training programs and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many manufacturers have local support specialists who can provide you with technical and product assistance. Most will have product samples to show you and your customer. You can sell a product more effectively when you are confident about it. Knowledge is key!

2. Pick a few manufacturers’ products and stick with them.

This will help in managing your product inventory. It will also allow you to buy in bulk, thus saving you money and increasing your profitability. Stay up to date with new product releases and discontinued products so you can plan in advance. Having a relationship with the manufacturers’ representative is very important!

The job you are doing for them might not be a huge deal to you, but to your customer, it is their whole world at that time.

3. Leave the job cleaner than you found it.

A shop vac, rake and a broom will be useful tools to tidy up a job site. Sometimes it may be necessary to clean up for the contractor that might be doing another job on the same site. Do so graciously; they may not be as courteous as you are. A happy customer will lead to more referrals!

4. Be respectful of the owner’s property and privacy.

Never discuss the home, its contents or customers’ names with anyone. Only go inside a home or outbuilding if invited in by the owners. Make sure your vendors’ or manufacturers’ representatives only visit job sites when you are there and advise the owners in advance.

5. Be organized.

Take time each day to clean out your truck and put tools away neatly. Make notes of the day’s activities. We do not all get a chance to bill daily so when you do get time to bill, have notes. It will help you get paid for the work you did.

6. Learn and develop the best installation techniques.

Sometimes these are mastered over many years, but a lot can be learned by listening to the advice of your peers at trade-specific shows. Communicate with contractors across the country. Be friendly to your competitors; you can learn from them.

7. Look the part.

You and your whole team, including your equipment, should look neat and clean. You and your employees should have company attire. Your equipment does not need to be new, but if it doesn’t look well cared for, what does it say about the jobs you install?

8. Communicate!

Return phone calls and emails in a timely fashion. Quick turnaround on estimates is always a plus. You will win jobs simply by getting back to a customer before others do so! Try to see things from your customer’s perspective. The job you are doing for them might not be a huge deal to you, but to your customer, it is their whole world at that time. Any amount of money is an investment from their perspective. Your customer needs to know they’re top on your list. Make them feel glad they chose you!

9. Give back to others.

Get involved with your local community. When asked to donate time, product or effort, do so. It will come back to you tenfold.

10. Live by the golden rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, always treat people fairly, honestly and with integrity. Your character drives your business.

Kevin Smith is the national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED, Carefree, Arizona, and can be reached via email.

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