You would think they would move heaven and earth to get to your property to bid and get to work on a job. After all, with the economy the way it is and home building in the tank, contractors are hurting. Business is way down because people don’t have the money to get work done on their homes, and new home construction has all but stopped. But my recent experience tells a different story.
This story illustrates some lessons we can all take to heart both in our own rental business and in dealing with contractors.
My own home has a roof leak somewhere in the tile roof. It started a couple of years ago and shows up during hard rains. Hard rains are happening most right now in Arizona because this is the summer monsoon season. I want it fixed.
I tried calling roofers individually; it did no good whatsoever. They would either say they don’t work on tile roofs, would give me the name of a company that has a less-than-sterling reputation, or would take my information and never show up. I know you’ve all had the same experiences. I went to the Better Business Bureau website and found a feature that would send out emails to Accredited Companies. I sent them out and, lo and behold, my phone started to ring. I actually had seven roofers show up. Be still my heart.
Well it wasn’t all good; one, with a few missing teeth and a five-day growth of beard, showed up at the door at 7:30 one morning without calling in advance. Then, he spent most of his time looking at the balcony off the master bedroom, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the roof leak. My wife wondered if he had gone to the wrong house.
Two showed up and parked in my driveway—not a good sign, any prospective tenant who blocks or parks in your driveway when the street is five feet away should be rejected out of hand, likewise with contractors. At least one of the trucks leaked oil in the street in front of the house.
If these roofers are accredited by the Better Business Bureau, I would hate to see the ones who aren’t. The majority who showed up were either incompetent or clueless; take your pick. From the seven who showed up, only two sounded as if they might have any idea what they were looking at or dealing with. Of those two who sounded competent, only one actually sent a bid. That bid was beyond ridiculous for a job that would take one or two people at the absolute most two days, but more likely less than one. I don’t need a whole new roof, only a 10×20 foot section repaired. One other bid was almost as much as it cost to replace an entire composition roof on our old home in another city.
Would I hire any of these roofers to work on my roof? What do you think?
This story brings to mind a plethora of thoughts, some having to do with dealing with contractors, some having to do with being a rental property owner, and some overlapping.
The first overlap is about first impressions. Four of the roofers left a bad first impression for different reasons. In fact, one stood on the ground looking at the roof while telling me what was wrong with it. The other three left a bad impression for other reasons.
As rental property owners, what kind of first impression do we leave with our prospective applicants? Are we professional from the first moment? Do we look and act as if we want their business? Are we careful of the appearance of our properties so they leave a good first impression?
Only three of the roofers sent an actual bid. Only one of them was from a company that had left a good first impression. That was also the one that called to confirm that we got the bid and to ask if I had any questions. Of course, I am not sure even that roofer knew what he was talking about.
The lesson for landlords is that after we have made a good first impression, we need to continue to show professionalism, not just revert to bad business practice. That includes follow-up calls and doing what we say we are going to do.
It doesn’t take much to be successful. Woody Allen observed that 80 percent of success was showing up. The other 20 percent? Leave a good first impression and do what you say you will do. Most of those other landlords won’t do that.
In dealing with contractors, we can use the same criteria. Do they make a good first impression? In other words, do we want them anywhere near our property? Do they seem to know what they are talking about, that is, have some rough idea of how to fix the problem or do what needs to be done? Do they follow up?
Answer yes to all three questions, and you just might have someone whom you would want to do business with. Answer no to any of the three and just add them to your “not a chance” list.
Ask yourself how you are doing with your own prospective customers using the same three questions. What are you answers?