Lately, many contractors have been telling me about homeowners driving them crazy by delaying their final payment. I’m hearing, far too many times, how homeowners are making it tough to complete a project, or they won’t let the contractor come on site except during very specific times. I’m hearing that these homeowners are being overly critical about the quality of the work being done. From the contractor’s viewpoint, what was once a reasonable client has changed into a very difficult client.
I am not a psychologist but I have started to think about why this always seem to happen at this time of the year. A couple of ideas come to mind. Winter is a tough time for everyone. Working conditions are harder due to the cold and the snow. There is far less light available and that can affect people’s mood (“Seasonal Affective Disorder”). During the winter months, people obviously spend more time in their homes than they do during the summer – and so they are around the construction all the time. For the contractor, it is also a time when work volume is slower and cash flow is tighter but overhead expenses keep coming in. All of this adds to the pressure of running a business.
Thinking about all of these factors, it seems clear that, as business owners, contractors have to be prepared for this every year. Knowing that every February is going to be similar means that it can be anticipated and planned for. Setting the expectations with the homeowner that the project will take longer in the winter and giving yourself more time to complete the project will help keep the project on schedule. Being on schedule is less stressful for the homeowner, thereby keeping them happier. If they can’t wait that long for the project to be completed then suggest they wait until spring, when you are able to work faster due to better weather conditions. Slowing down the schedule may seem counter-intuitive but it is all about meeting your client’s expectation.
Cashflow is a whole other story of which we will cover next week…….