“Oh no, no, please God help me!”

June 18, 2012 | From the Black Sabbath song….and contractors who encounter the evil nasty customer who will never go away and refuses to pay you until hell freezes over and you perform a miracle. “Just one more thing” and “you said you were going to….” and my favorite “this is just not what I expected when I hired you!”

Okay, so I am the man! I am the guy who takes a beating on my margin to make a customer happy. I am the guy who calls in a painter to stain lattice to make damn sure the stain is perfect so I don’t have to do it myself to get the last check. I am the guy who abuses the terms “yes ma’am” and “Whatever you need sir” I am the sucker who gets abuse from the evil nasty once a year customer. I…am the man!

So back to the annual freak!  Before, when I got home from one of these encounters I usually drank….a lot! Then I wondered what went wrong. Usually there is a flashback to the first meeting where the prospect said “I am warning you, I am picky.” At that point, like many of you, I thought…. I am a deck builder, I can handle picky. But what do you do about it? Most deck builders would shrug this statement off and move to the close. Some would have flashbacks and ease their way out of the house. A few would bump the price a few points knowing it’s going cost them later. Here’s how I beat the nasty!

Identify “The statement”…. “I am picky” or “I have done all of the research and I know what I want” or “show me some of your more detailed work” It is “the statement” where the Type A (correct’or) personality reveals his or herself. After the delivery of “The Statement”  I shrug it off a bit and don’t let the picky statement bother me. I can assure you, they are looking for body language upon the delivery of this statement. Don’t get nervous. Your competitor got nervous and he didn’t get the job. These guys buy on the spot if you sell right. This statement and how you deal with it gets you the job no matter what your price is….NO MATTER WHAT YOUR PRICE IS!!!! If you deal with this statement well, you can ask any reasonable price for your work and close in one visit. The prospect told you that he wants someone to put up with him at any price. Many times with this statement I will respond with “Does that mean I can add ten percent for your eccentricities? Chuckle chuckle…. No laughs from the spouse? Leave! Laughs from the spouse? Sold!

They know they are a pain in the butt when they use “the statement”, they are testing you. An extra tip, take seriously good notes on this visit, if you are lucky, they already have provided you a packet. Review it in their presence and make notes on every page without fail. By making these notes you are sending a message that you are even more detailed than them.

Charge for the job to cover the difficulties with the prospect. Write a really freaking good contract with all of the details including steps on how change orders will be handled. Be detailed like never before and you will win on this job. Add payment draws, starting with 50% up front and every $5k after. Leave less than 10% at the end.  Never do %0% up front and 50% when complete….EVER!

A little hint…..Do these right and the other 99 percent will go even better.

Final note…. The laughing spouse. Correct’ors usually shack up with Celebrities (people who like to entertain) Two Correct’ors equal a nightmare. There is no amount of money on the planet that will make you want to build for two Correct’ors. The laughter flushes out the celebrity. Another telltale to a celebrity is an offer for a coffee or a tour of the house.

Good luck and thanks for reading. Ideas or comments? Email me: davidelenbaum@gmail.com.