Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dealing With Contractors

Now we discuss how to find a contractor able to build on the site. And as this series has been so far, this sector is based on my personal experience and offered to you warts and all. As with all of my columns only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, ignorant, and too contentious.

Well, I signed my name in blood on the lease and the space was mine for the next two years, the success or failure. It was a large single room, about 1600 square feet, with a small storage area and two toilets in the back. The floor was painted concrete, the walls have a strange shade of orange, half the lights do not work, and there was no hot water or air conditioning. And just scratching the surface. There were a few dozen other things that must be repaired or installed before I could move in.

Now, a lesser man would have been intimidated by the enormous task of transforming this vacuum Money Pit into a thriving retail store in less than 60 days, but I'm an entrepreneur - who is an English word meaning "idiot who takes the impossible, "I was so excited by the challenge.

The question then becomes: Who will build this space? It certainly was not for me. When it comes to construction, I'm about as useful as a gunman in a clapping. It is time to bring the entrepreneurs.

I do not know about you, but it has been my experience that capable, reliable contractor is difficult to find. Let me rephrase that: it has been my experience that capable, reliable damn contractor is almost impossible to find. It is easier to pin the tail on Bigfoot blindfolded in dense fog to find an entrepreneur who understands the concepts of commitment and commitments. Nevertheless, my quest began with the Yellow Pages and referrals from friends.

I quickly felt like Henny Penny, desperately looking for someone who could help me bake my bread. I talked to floor coverings, painters, plumbers, electricians, installers security system, heating and air conditioning guy, and general construction. Most of them do not seem to give a rat on the back if they are my business or not. Several did not bother to return my calls. Others have come late to appointments and others did not bother to show everyone.

Now, I am not saying that all contractors are little insensitive, and undependable. I am convinced that there is much to the reputation of entrepreneurs who will appear in due time, do an excellent job, you and Bill fairly. Then there are the other 99%, many of whom are good old boys who operate from their pickup trucks without the benefit of the licence, bonds or concerns to their customers satisfaction. If you are an entrepreneur and you want to argue these points, we'll make an appointment to talk in person. I am sure you are not.

Fortunately for me, I managed to find a contractor in the 1 percentile that goes beyond the call of duty to get the space built on time, despite my demanding nature and daily changes of these plans. I was very, very, very lucky ...

So how can you improve your chances of finding a reliable contractor to build your space? Pray, my brothers and sisters, and follow these guidelines.

Do not be pressured by deadlines. When you run a business, you're usually under a tight schedule, which puts you to thank you contractor (they can feel the fear and despair). They know that you need them more than they need you. This is a bad place to be, but we must be patient and not hiring a contractor simply because he has a hammer and a pulse.

Ask to see licenses and bonds. As mentioned above, many contractors forgo the formality of business licenses and security obligations. They prefer the "hammer travel" mode of operation. If the contractor you're interviewing can not show you a license and proof of a deposit spend the next candidate.

Are they wear a watch? If the contractor does not wear a watch, it's probably because he has no concept of time or as regards the timetable. I want to see a contractor to wear a watch that looks at it often. I want to see him wearing a daytimer and a cellular phone with a number that I have on the speed line.

Ask for references and check the BBB. This should be a no brainer, but I bet most entrepreneurs never bother to ask or check references. You want names and numbers at least five former clients and always check their history with the BBB. Everyone can stencil their names on the side of a truck. Do not be fooled into thinking that makes them a professional.
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