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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    888

    Default General question to the contractors

    just had a general question to all the contractors out there.

    This year has been great for contractors in the northeast, specifically the boston area. i was wondering how busy all of you are in different parts of the country. do you have work booked up for months? are you working on a job to job basis? any trends you're noticing from customers? any trends you're noticing from suppliers?

    i have no major complaints, business is great, really great. one of my issues is hiring competent help, i seem to be going through about 5 guys to find 1 decent one. customers seem to be willing to wait a few months to have their remodeling/addition job done when a year or two ago they wanted things done immediately.

    in these parts, many of the smaller contractors have gone out of business over the past 2-3 years which might be a reason for things picking up so much around here. as of right now i've been going about 2 years strictly on referrals with no other means of advertising which has given me a much better quality of customer. i'm not finding people nickel and dime-ing me to death like they did a year or two ago. it makes me wonder if so many of these DIY shows, real estate shows, holmes on holmes, etc are giving people the smarts to do jobs right the first time and expect a better quality of work.

    enough said i guess, just wanted to get that out there and see how everyone's business is going....the good and the bad.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,617

    Default Re: General question to the contractors

    Quote Originally Posted by MLB Construction View Post
    as of right now i've been going about 2 years strictly on referrals with no other means of advertising which has given me a much better quality of customer. i'm not finding people nickel and dime-ing me to death like they did a year or two ago. it makes me wonder if so many of these DIY shows, real estate shows, holmes on holmes, etc are giving people the smarts to do jobs right the first time and expect a better quality of work.
    Before I retired, my business was strictly word of mouth advertising, and even that was severely restricted down to specific types of recommendations from my clients, and I was as busy as I could be, regardless of the economy. Remember back to 1999 and the Y2K scare had people cocooning? While the majority of contractors where whining that there wasn't any work, I was booked out 6+ months, all from word of mouth. Regardless of the economy, my business was good.

    Like you, I had a hard time finding qualified employees, so I stuck with using sub contractors when extra help was needed, while I didn't make quite as much on a job using subs, there was also no payroll or withholding bullshit to deal with, I just wrote a check to the sub and I was done! This was a double edged sword, on one hand, easy bookkeeping, on the other, I sorely could have used some in house labor to lighten my load to keep the jobs lined up.

    On the bright side, ALL of my clients were willing to wait for my services because they knew they were going to get top notch work at a very reasonable price. I literally quit making a schedule and just handed out numbers. Each client knew I would be there until the job was completed, no matter how many extras were added. The next person in line would get a phone call a week or so in advance of my availability and I'd just roll into the next project. When I finally made the decision to retire, it still took me 18 months to finish up the outstanding projects.

    So, in answer to your question, if you are a high quality contractor with high quality clients, then you will never be searching for work, regardless of the state of the economy.

    The sad thing is, the guys that work on quantity over quality just don't understand this concept nor have this type of job security.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,337

    Default Re: General question to the contractors

    I won't say it's great here in Upstate SC- more like good and getting better. There's plenty of remod work and new homes at all levels are being built. The recession did knock out a lot of the small guys, the more established ones survived, and there's new names beginning to pop up again around here. Unfortunately, even though the work has returned, the money hasn't- it's still a tough game to play especially for the small guys like me.

    Just conjecturing now, but I do see patience in my customers and the same goes for others I know. The real estate market is slow but steady and growing, so most of the remod work is from people who have thought more carefully about what they want and who they want to do it as they aren't doing it to sell, so quality matters a lot more now than then. No more 'fast and furious flipping' going on and I doubt it will ever return since it was an artificially created business that worked only because anyone could be qualified for a mortgage. We're back to reality and tight lending practices.

    Competent help is always a problem. If you're getting 1 out of 5 you're doing well- here it's 1 in 10 or worse for barely competent; 1 in 50 for the good ones. And the good ones are presently well-paid and busy so you're not getting them away from where they are now.

    Phil

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,443

    Default Re: General question to the contractors

    I learned long ago to rely heavily on referrals and word of mouth business. Plus I was creating a lot of my business myself - buying and selling rentals.

    During the great recession of 2007-20?, my biggest worry was not whether I could get skilled help, but: can I keep my tenants (like: will they be able to pay the rent?).

    At the same time my remodel business suffered a lot, I didn't have to keep skilled workers and had to let them go. And go they went - to find work in other states.

    Now that the business is slowly returning, I'm semi retired, not interested in taking big jobs anymore. Yes I'm as busy as I want to be at this point, but I'm turning some old customers down.

    I understand, by talking to some old friends, that it's very hard to find skilled labor - but that's one of the costs of a recession. Today's workers need training all over again. Large builders are beginning to slap together track homes with unskilled workers, opening the door to future remodel and repair business...

    And the cycle continues.

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