Contracting and telling “white lies” to clients
Steve Maxwell writes about why ANY white lies in the contracting business are going to come back to hurt you.
By Steve Maxwell
Back in June, I got an e-mail from a woman wondering about roof shingles. It reminded me how easy it is for contractors to destroy their own credibility with white lies.
Earlier on I’d recommended a certain brand of shingle to this homeowner, but the contractor didn’t want to use them. “They’re a half inch shorter than standard shingles,” he told her. “And this means more cutting to match lengths and hide nails. It’ll cost you more.”
Really? A 1/2” difference in shingle length is going to be so much more trouble and expense? No doubt this contractor has his reasons not to use the shingles I had recommended – and I believe those reasons would not sound good if spoken plainly.
Maybe he has some special arrangement with a particular supplier of another brand that gives him a discount. Maybe he’s just frightened of the smallest change in his work routine. I don’t know, but cooking up some fancy sounding nonsense about shorter shingle length is asking for trouble. And he’ll get it, too. Why would any homeowner want to do business with someone who isn’t honest in the little things?
So that is what I told the homeowner. As a famous carpenter once said about 2,000 years ago, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
To be fair, every contractor definitely needs to steer clients away from their own silly ideas sometimes. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where everyone is an expert, and homeowners expect the world because they saw it on Pinterest. The thing is, using lies – even dishonest excuses about little things like shingle length – isn’t the way to protect clients from themselves. Nor is it the way to get what you need. Eventually what goes around, comes around. The universe was designed to operate much better on honesty in all things, even the little things.
Our world is awash with lies, so much so that we usually don’t even see them any more. And while going with the deceitful flow is a common policy these days, doesn’t this also mean that honesty in the little things is one way you can shine more brightly?