I'm in the process of building a house, so I'm learning first hand what it's like dealing with contractors. I have good news and bad news for any contractors out there. The bad news is almost everyone I've contacted has been a major flake or a disappointment. The good news is, if you run your business right and take heart with what I'm writing about you can dominate your industry, because I promise you your competition is screwing up and not doing things right.
First off, if you make an appointment, call the day before to confirm and remind the customer you are coming. I've been standing up by multiple contractors who flat out did not show up for the appointment, one guy did it to me twice, Shame on me for letting it happen a second time, but everyone else was so bad I felt I had no choice. If for any reason something comes up and you can not make the appointment, call or text the customer and let them know. There are very few things that are going to happen that will leave you without 5 seconds to text or leave a message. If you have a true emergency and the customer gets mad, chances are they would have been a major pain to deal with anyway. But doing nothing makes you look bad.
Second, be prepared for your customer by having accurate samples of your work. It looks bad when you say "I have to find pictures". Also, after looking over the job, give them a firm time frame for when you will have the bid. Do not say "Sometimes next week," or "Things are crazy so it will be soon." Give them a date you will have it, and if the date comes close and you will not have it, call them and tell them when you will have it.
When you turn in your bid, make sure it's the bid you can live with to do the job. I can not tell you how many guys drive up to my job site; saw a nice home and the price shot up. Make sure the price for the big house uses the same scale that the small one gets. If it's $ 10 dollars a square foot for the tract house on the corner, it should be $ 10 a square foot for the mansion on the hill. Obviously there are factors that can change that, but the main factor should not be "this guy has more money so I'll play catch up on this one."
Turn in a professional bid. The worst bid I got was from the big fish in town that told me nothing about what they would do. Make it easy for the customer to understand what you are suggesting, how else can they compare it to other bids. And if it's to much work and you feel like you are giving away to many secrets preparing a bid, why are you wasting the customers time? I like to think of this as bidding and ducking. You are just throwing it out there and hoping something happens. Like that great line in the movie Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a dangerous thing." Do not hope, just be good at your job, it will make a difference.
Another sticking point is the contractor that says "Let me know if my price is high, and I'll work with you to match another bid." If you were screwing me at $ 36,000, then realize you can get the job for $ 30,000, you should have given your best price on your first visit. Now I'd rather use the second guy thatave me a good price to begin with.
As to what to do next to monitor the job and get it done right, I'll have to write about that later, because I still have not found someone to do the work. But what I do know for sure, is if you are a contractor who avoids the mistakes I'm writing about, you will stand out in your industry, because your competition is not doing it.