Seven Humble Pleas to the General Contractors of Earth
If I’m trying to get a project bid from you, I’d really appreciate it if you would…
Get a fucking website. It’s not 1975 anymore. I’m going to look you up after someone gives me your name or I find you on HomeAdvisor or Thumbtack or any of the other referral services. You have no website? Game over. I’m not gonna hire you for anything important. How fucking serious could you be? Okay, maybe “you have so much work you don’t need one.” Keep in mind you sound like some 70-year old fool who said he didn’t need a telephone in 1960.
Refrain from only sending out the fucking sales dude. I know, you’re paying a commission to this guy with the polo shirt and brochures to be your front man while you’re off working and earning money. I get it. You can’t be doing estimates all day. So I’m here talking to Cliff or Joe or Derek and wondering if anybody tells him he wears too much cologne. Thing is, I know I’ll never see this schmoe again. I want to talk to the guy who’ll be swinging the hammer. Or onsite telling somebody else to swing the hammer. Until that person comes and looks at the job, I won’t take your bid seriously.
Shut the fuck up. After I start describing the project to you, fight the irresistible urge to immediately blurt “what you wanna do is…” and launch into a fifteen-minute monologue about how you’ll move this and tear down that and altogether kick the living shit out of the this whole deal. Shut up and listen. In case you don’t know, I’m trying to determine if I can fucking communicate with you during this brief visit. If you’re a non-stop blabbing solution machine that never lets me get ten consecutive words out during the initial meeting, or otherwise exude the qualities of a jerk off, I’ll know for damn sure I won’t be able to deal with you during the job. If you shut up, I will tell you what I want, what I think I need and all the other cockamamie shit that gives me big worries or grand hopes about this thing. Listen. Or just fucking pretend to listen. Then talk.
Take some fucking measurements. Go look in the basement, attic or outside. Pull out a tape measure a few times. Open the fuse box. I won’t know if this is necessary or helpful. But it will make you look like you kind of give a shit. For example, I had five contractors bid on a new roof and only two actually looked around inside the crawlspace with a flashlight. Guess which three contractors got scratched off? Yeah, I know, maybe it wasn’t essential to physically eyeball the plywood. There are probably plenty of jobs in which doing something like that doesn’t matter at all. Except it does. Because I’m trying to ascertain if you’re going to be thorough or half-assed.
Follow the fuck up. Again, it isn’t 1975 anymore. I know that disappearing into the void and never giving the promised quote is the oldest classic dick-move contractors pull, and about 90 percent still do it with fucking brilliant reliability. But this is highly stupid in the age of Yelp. If you disappear after an enthusiastic visit in which you screwed with my mind sufficiently to make me think I had a contender, and it pisses me off, it’s easy for me to slap a review on websites and tell people about it. I can send the same angry email to eleven referral services in about ten minutes. I might be glad you didn’t follow up, or simply decide life is too short to ever think about you again, but the next homeowner might be more anal about it. He might make you his personal cyber chew toy. It’s just a matter of time. And those reviews will never go away.
Give me a fucking drawing. Refusing to do this because it’s too much trouble can kill the deal. If you genuinely want the job and we’ve had a couple phone calls about it (i.e., you’re one of the finalists), invest the time to whip up a floor plan or some helpful visual. It’s not fucking hard. About a billion free programs will produce something professional looking in twenty minutes. Hire a teenager. All other things being equal, a bid with passable visuals will superficially kick the shit out of one without them. It’s also another hint of where you might fall on the giving-a-shit and half-assed scales.
Avoid sending me emails or texts that look like they were typed by a fucking millennial with a head injury. You have two big professional representations to worry about, interpersonally: how you come off in person (and on the phone), and secondly, how you come off in emails and texts. Don’t disregard the latter. Before you hit send, have a stranger over 50 read what you just thumbed and ask if they would trust the person who wrote it with, say, a $40,000 project.
Thanks very much.
This appeared on Ron Geraci’s blog, themintyplum.com. He’s a writer living in New York.