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The last payment

Near the very end of a job, when you are 95 per cent done, is where you might drop the ball with a customer, and blow the chance to get a referral. Those final, finishing touches, mean everything.


At a neighborhood party over the weekend I was chatting with some people who had just completed renovations to their homes.  Each of them had similar experiences but had used different contractors.  Both said the work was great, however the relationship ended on a sour note.

Throughout the project both commented on how happy they were with the work that the contractor was doing and how the contractor was keeping them in the loop.  They would pay the contractor on a regular basis and the work continued along as expected.

Nearing the end of the project is where problems started to come up.  90 – 95% of the work was completed and they both had to push hard to get the contractor to finish the work.  Why was this happening to 2 different people with 2 different contractors I wondered?

After much discussion, we realized that the communication between the homeowner and the contractor was starting to break down because the level of trust was beginning to break down.  The homeowners didn’t trust that if they made the final payment, the last small details would get done and the contractor didn’t trust that the homeowner would make the final payment.

Wow, I thought.  All that relationship that was built up during the project is being thrown out the window.  So is the opportunity for the contractor to generate referrals and repeat business from a happy homeowner.

So how do you solve this?  From my standpoint, unless there are heavy warning signs, the contractor should work hard to finish the project in a timelu manner.  Like fine millwork, the satisfaction is in the quality of the final finish.  Don’t throw all that hard work away and the opportunity for referrals by not following through on the finish.  There is far less risk on the final payment when the work is completed as promised.  Stay is constant communication with the homeowner about what is left to complete the project, when you will be completed and how much you are expecting on completion.  Doing so, will get you paid faster, give you another happy customer and will give you more repeat and more referral work in the future.


Mike Draper

Mike Draper

Mike Draper is a Master Coach with Renovantage. Renovantage is a first-of-its-kind business group for home renovators in Canada. (www.renovantage.com)
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