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Is that your best price? No, my best price is three times that amount.

"There are certain lines spoken by prospective clients that make me turn and away - fast."


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November 12, 2013 by Steve Payne

Mil Sepic emailed this in response to Rob and Steve’s editorials in the latest print issue of CANADIAN CONTRACTOR about “Deadbeats.”

“I’ve lived through the deadbeats. I’ve been a painting contractor and wallpaper hanger for 30 some years now and I’m soon to retire. Here are some other indicators for deadbeats I’ve run into:

In painting the variation to “big future profits” (which Rob said is what Deadbeat customers always promise you) is “My ___________ will get you into apartment buildings and you’ll get all that.” In 30 years it’s NEVER happened. Basically an out and out lie. It’s never happened for any painter I’ve met over the years. I’m sure it’s the same for all trades.

There are certain lines spoken by prospective clients that make me turn and walk away – fast. Watch out for, “Is that your best price?” and “You better sharpen your pencil.” If you work for this person they will do the following: Demean your work, ask you to do little extras like 40 yards of decades-old wrought iron fencing “while you’re here,” offer you beverages and snacks then ask for a discount or for you to take off the taxes; and worst of all – they will have this curse effect of making you slip up and make rank amateur mistakes that will baffle you.

They are a very small percentage of all the customers you will ever meet, about 2.5%. Get away from them as fast as possible, the second you hear either line. We put them in something called the Dead File and never answer their calls.

When those lines come up now the response is: “No, my best price is three times that amount. And half up front.” And “You better grease your wallet.” The look on their faces is worth it.

Emailed by Mil Sepic, Milworks, Nov. 10, 2013


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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2 Comments » for Is that your best price? No, my best price is three times that amount.
  1. John Bradley says:

    Doesn’t sound like you would be someone I would want to hire..especially with that real negative attitude.

    I have hired painters in the past, some have done a great job and while others I have had to take to court since the paint was peeling even before they were leaving, the job was half done, paint was watered down etc etc. I didn’t go with the cheapest or the most expensive bid, I was conservative. I didn’t negotiate etc etc..I gave each painter an opportunity to bid as they wanted to.

    Incidentally, to home/business owners, you really want to see what goes on in your home/businesses when you’re not there when you hire poor contractors that bring in cheap labor, get cameras installed before they come in..amazing what happens in court when you start showing the video of them watering down the paint, slacking off, etc etc. One contractor had the balls to bring a prostitute to my home and then when I terminated him, he attempted to place a lien on my property…thankfully, video and him having a wife did the trick, else I’d be looking at legal fees just to get rid of this guy..and sorry to say he’s not the only bad contractor out there..

    So if a homeowner is asking you to sharpen your pencil, it’s because you have over bid the job, and if they are promising you more work and it doesn’t happen, it’s because you’ve done a bad job or you have a bad attitude.

    And that attitude comes out in this article..Loud and clear..good thing you’re close to retiring, since this article would do you a dis-service!