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Lonsdale73

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Why is it so hard to find a reliable tradesperson? The one that was due at 10am this morning still hasn't arrived, no call nor message to say he's late, held-up, can't be pineappled, nothing. He's the third let down after two others either never got back to me when they said they would or didn't bother returning my call.

Not confined to trades people either. Five out of six people I had appointments with last week failed to turn up. Not one of them called to say they couldn't or wouldn't be coming, two - when chased - admitted to having changed their mind but still lacked the courtesy to notify me of this first and the rest simply ignored my 'Are you still coming?" pleas.

I know I'm clocking on and clinging to old time concepts such as courtesy and manners but I can't put it down purely to generational differences as some of the worst offenders are contemporaries or older.
 

Trevanion

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I’ve had similar experiences but the other way around :lol:.

I had one person the other day whom I did work for in past ask me to make something for them, went and had a look at it and agreed a price. I didn’t take a deposit since it was literally £50 of work, cut a piece of 3/4” plywood to fit over a fireplace plinth and give it a coat of primer. Went away and got a piece of plywood out, cut it to size, rounded it off and painted it within a couple of days, called and texted the person several times with no answer. After a month I had a text saying “hi just checking in about the fireplace” by which time I had cut up the plywood for something else a couple of days prior #-o. I told them this and the fact they never replied to any of my calls or messages or even any communication in the month made me assume they didn’t want it, they asked if I could do another and I politely declined. I don’t have time for people like that, I’m very certain they thought my price was a bit steep despite 75% of the price being material and they went shopping around for another trademan to look at it, but I imagine most of the prices either came back double or didn’t come back at all. :lol:.

It’s just people, there’s bad ones out there.
 

RobinBHM

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Lonsdale73":22nn0nol said:
Why is it so hard to find a reliable tradesperson? The one that was due at 10am this morning still hasn't arrived, no call nor message to say he's late, held-up, can't be pineappled, nothing. He's the third let down after two others either never got back to me when they said they would or didn't bother returning my call.

Not confined to trades people either. Five out of six people I had appointments with last week failed to turn up. Not one of them called to say they couldn't or wouldn't be coming, two - when chased - admitted to having changed their mind but still lacked the courtesy to notify me of this first and the rest simply ignored my 'Are you still coming?" pleas.

I know I'm clocking on and clinging to old time concepts such as courtesy and manners but I can't put it down purely to generational differences as some of the worst offenders are contemporaries or older.
A lot of tradesmen do work for builders - thats repeat business and building contractors lean on their subbies to get them on site when they need them. Add to that the fact jobs overun, you can see how small one off jobs for private customers get squeezed out.

Im not saying your job was small, just guessing.
 

Lonsdale73

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RobinBHM":2op758jf said:
Lonsdale73":2op758jf said:
Why is it so hard to find a reliable tradesperson? The one that was due at 10am this morning still hasn't arrived, no call nor message to say he's late, held-up, can't be pineappled, nothing. He's the third let down after two others either never got back to me when they said they would or didn't bother returning my call.

Not confined to trades people either. Five out of six people I had appointments with last week failed to turn up. Not one of them called to say they couldn't or wouldn't be coming, two - when chased - admitted to having changed their mind but still lacked the courtesy to notify me of this first and the rest simply ignored my 'Are you still coming?" pleas.

I know I'm clocking on and clinging to old time concepts such as courtesy and manners but I can't put it down purely to generational differences as some of the worst offenders are contemporaries or older.
A lot of tradesmen do work for builders - thats repeat business and building contractors lean on their subbies to get them on site when they need them. Add to that the fact jobs overun, you can see how small one off jobs for private customers get squeezed out.

Im not saying your job was small, just guessing.
Too big for me to tackle but for an 'expert' then yes, I'd say it's not a big job which is reflected in the prices I've been quoted, prices I'cve accepted without quibble. I'm guessing a large chunk of the reason why so many have not even replied to initial enquiries is because it is too small for them to consider. However, when someone has taken he time to come look at it, give a price and a time, to then not have the basic courtesy to say "Sorry, got a better offer/ job's overran a bit, will reschedule/can't make it today/I don't get out of bed for something that small!" is what bugs me.
 

Lonsdale73

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lurker":ps92k903 said:
Maybe they are trying to tell you something.
No dung, Sherlock!

I wouldn't mind them actually 'telling' me something, it's the pig ignorance I can't be doing with.
 

will1983

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This is something I hear all the time. Being somewhat of a handy practical person I don't use other trades very often so I didn't realise just how prolific this sort of behaviour is.

Having heard it a lot I am keen that my business does not develop that kind of reputation so I've been giving it a bit of thought. I think a lot of what people are experiencing is as a result of either the clients not giving the tradesperson enough information or more importantly the tradespersons are not asking the correct questions when they first receive an enquiry.
A quick 5 minute conversation to identify the exact scale and nature of the work right at the beginning would head off a huge number of wasted visits and peoples time. For example, a sole-trader working on their own is unlikely to undertake a whole shop fit out and likewise a medium sized business would not want to take on a job hanging a couple of doors. If the right questions are asked at the beginning then the tradesperson would know if they actually want the job before arranging to come to see it.

I have to say though that it isn't always the tradesperson that is at fault, prospective clients are just as bad. When I first started the business I was continually put out by peoples rudeness and unwillingness to communicate. I had to "harden up" pretty quickly to avoid living in a continual state of annoyance!

I appreciate that the stuff I make is aimed towards the higher end of the market and therefore a high percentage of inquiries will be out of peoples budget. However that is no excuse for completely ignoring the time and effort made by the tradesperson, discussing a project with the Client, designing a solution, calculating an accurate price and then presenting it to the Client. I understand this is all part of doing business but to not even send an acknowledgment of receipt of the quotation is just plain rude.

Luckily I haven't had many people mess me about though, most are a straight yes or a no response. I've only had one person who said she wanted a project building and then didn't pay her deposit. After three days of promised payment I gave up and cancelled her booking. Fortunately I only lost a couple of hours going to measure up.

On a lighter note I did see a funny if slightly exaggerated example of some of the unrealistic expectations some people have of the trades though, it went something like this.

I need a kitchen fitting
must be done this week
you've got to come before 7:00am I work shifts
you cant come until after 11:00pm as I go to the pub after work
only paying £100 cos my mate who's a bricky said it'll only take 2 days and I get £50 a day
you supply everything, I want oak
you can't park outside
I'm on the 7th story, lift broken
fix the washing machine while your here, it's got something stuck in it..

Made me smile!
 

Lonsdale73

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will1983":os0p47az said:
This is something I hear all the time. Being somewhat of a handy practical person I don't use other trades very often so I didn't realise just how prolific this sort of behaviour is.

Having heard it a lot I am keen that my business does not develop that kind of reputation so I've been giving it a bit of thought. I think a lot of what people are experiencing is as a result of either the clients not giving the tradesperson enough information or more importantly the tradespersons are not asking the correct questions when they first receive an enquiry.
A quick 5 minute conversation to identify the exact scale and nature of the work right at the beginning would head off a huge number of wasted visits and peoples time. For example, a sole-trader working on their own is unlikely to undertake a whole shop fit out and likewise a medium sized business would not want to take on a job hanging a couple of doors. If the right questions are asked at the beginning then the tradesperson would know if they actually want the job before arranging to come to see it.

I have to say though that it isn't always the tradesperson that is at fault, prospective clients are just as bad. When I first started the business I was continually put out by peoples rudeness and unwillingness to communicate. I had to "harden up" pretty quickly to avoid living in a continual state of annoyance!

I appreciate that the stuff I make is aimed towards the higher end of the market and therefore a high percentage of inquiries will be out of peoples budget. However that is no excuse for completely ignoring the time and effort made by the tradesperson, discussing a project with the Client, designing a solution, calculating an accurate price and then presenting it to the Client. I understand this is all part of doing business but to not even send an acknowledgment of receipt of the quotation is just plain rude.

Luckily I haven't had many people mess me about though, most are a straight yes or a no response. I've only had one person who said she wanted a project building and then didn't pay her deposit. After three days of promised payment I gave up and cancelled her booking. Fortunately I only lost a couple of hours going to measure up.

On a lighter note I did see a funny if slightly exaggerated example of some of the unrealistic expectations some people have of the trades though, it went something like this.

I need a kitchen fitting
must be done this week
you've got to come before 7:00am I work shifts
you cant come until after 11:00pm as I go to the pub after work
only paying £100 cos my mate who's a bricky said it'll only take 2 days and I get £50 a day
you supply everything, I want oak
you can't park outside
I'm on the 7th story, lift broken
fix the washing machine while your here, it's got something stuck in it..

Made me smile!
Oddly enough, I was considering a post on my website on the subject of "Loose Briefs!" There something I get all the time., usually along the lines of "Can you do something creative with this?" and whenever I ask "What did you have in mind?" I invariably get (sic) "Whatever you think lol!" So when I go back to them with my ideas I get "Oh, that's not what I was thinking!" and, of course, it isn't, it is what I was thinking which is what they asked for! I have some skills; sadly, mind-reading isn't one of them.

I had two such 'urgent' requests in the run up to last xmas. In fairness, one requested only one minor tweak but, between the two jobs, there was maybe seventeen hours of creativity from which I made a grand total of around 70p!
 

will1983

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Building on what I said earlier I have been working on an enquiry process and it seems to be working. Here the process for anyone that is interested.

When someone contacts me I immediately give them an indication of how long my waiting list is along with a request for their address and telephone number, lets call this Stage Gate 1.

If they pass SG1 I give them a call, during this call I ask for the following;
Ask them for some more details of what they want
Get an idea of their budget and a then give them a guideline of how much my furniture is.
This is SG2.

If this is favorable to them (and I!!) then I go through the process for commissioning a piece, deposits, 3D model, design approval, change process etc. Once it is clear they understand that it is a process (journey, if you like) and not like buying something from a shop I arrange a time to come to see them. I finish up with a request for their email address.

I follow up with a quick email to establish full contact and to give them an email address to which they can send any images they like to.

This sounds like quite a bit of effort but in reality it is only about 10 minutes work to get this far.

On the day of the visit I send a text to check they are still in and haven't forgotten.
During the visit I examine things like journey time, access, parking and positions of electrical sockets.
I take photos of where the project is going and show them images of previous projects to try to clarify specific design details they like.
All the time I am making notes in my book so I don't forget anything when I am designing and building up the quotation.
The most important thing however is to listen to what they are saying, to many people just hear what they want to hear without actually taking on board the Clients wishes.
I try to ask as many questions as possible. Including about them, their home, their needs and any restrictions that I might but subjected to. I think this is the service that sets my business apart from the other alternatives.
I also use this meeting to get an indication of what sort of person the Client is and if they are going to pay or not. (sub Stage Gate 2a)

I depart with a promise to follow up with a quotation within a set amount of time. I also say that if for whatever reason they haven't received it by then to contact me. I think this shows that I am serious but I've not missed a deadline so not needed to be chased yet.

Back in the office I draw in AutoCAD or SketchUp what we have discussed and build up my price, I wont go into how I do that though (that's a whole different subject!!)
I have a standard quotation letter that includes my standard T&Cs, the only things I need to change in that are; the project description, the price and anticipated timescales. The drawings are presented on bordered, letterheaded and dated drawing backgrounds and sent in an email with the letter.

To do this properly is a fair amount of work and there is still a chance of it being wasted but by doing all the previous steps I am mitigating the amount of wasted effort.

ST3 - confirmation or declination of the price, if accepted then I immediately acknowledge them and send the account details for the deposit to be paid. Once I have received the deposit the project actually starts and I can start spending some money in materials and time.

I think the whole thing is about managing expectations, giving yourself clear but achievable deadlines and just doing what you promised to do.
Communication is really important, I have a policy of responding as soon as possible, even if it is to say, "I'm sorry but I'm really busy at the moment, I'll give you a call later."
Most people respect honesty so if you are booked up for 3 months then say so right at the start. If you encounter a problem and you are not able to deliver on time, say so as early as possible even if you then actually meet the deadline. Client's prefer to know that they might not get their project for another day than find out you're not coming on the morning you are supposed to be there.

Employing tradespeople is a daunting task for most people, they are employing them because they do not have the knowledge, skills or time to do it themselves so are immediately in a lesser position to the "expert". It is this knowledge/experience gap which some less reputable people have exploited and led to the general consensus that all tradespeople are "rip-off-merchants".
By approaching this in a systematized methodical manner I am trying to remove that anxiety in the initial stages and build a level of trust.

I apologize if I have rambled on and gone off the OPs track but I thought it might help to understand what is involved from the position of the trade professional. It might also help someone taking those initial steps into the self employed joinery world.

A little caveat, I am a qualified Civil Engineer, I have been around the whole "building-stuff-for-money" thing for years but I have only been running my own business for 12 months so I am far from seasoned! If any of the more experienced guys on here wanted to add to what I've said or recommend changes they would be gratefully received. Every day is a school day!

Will
 

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will1983":go6veu7r said:
Building on what I said earlier I have been working on an enquiry process and it seems to be working. Here the process for anyone that is interested.

When someone contacts me I immediately give them an indication of how long my waiting list is along with a request for their address and telephone number, lets call this Stage Gate 1.

If they pass SG1 I give them a call, during this call I ask for the following;
Ask them for some more details of what they want
Get an idea of their budget and a then give them a guideline of how much my furniture is.
This is SG2.

If this is favorable to them (and I!!) then I go through the process for commissioning a piece, deposits, 3D model, design approval, change process etc. Once it is clear they understand that it is a process (journey, if you like) and not like buying something from a shop I arrange a time to come to see them. I finish up with a request for their email address.

I follow up with a quick email to establish full contact and to give them an email address to which they can send any images they like to.

This sounds like quite a bit of effort but in reality it is only about 10 minutes work to get this far.

On the day of the visit I send a text to check they are still in and haven't forgotten.
During the visit I examine things like journey time, access, parking and positions of electrical sockets.
I take photos of where the project is going and show them images of previous projects to try to clarify specific design details they like.
All the time I am making notes in my book so I don't forget anything when I am designing and building up the quotation.
The most important thing however is to listen to what they are saying, to many people just hear what they want to hear without actually taking on board the Clients wishes.
I try to ask as many questions as possible. Including about them, their home, their needs and any restrictions that I might but subjected to. I think this is the service that sets my business apart from the other alternatives.
I also use this meeting to get an indication of what sort of person the Client is and if they are going to pay or not. (sub Stage Gate 2a)

I depart with a promise to follow up with a quotation within a set amount of time. I also say that if for whatever reason they haven't received it by then to contact me. I think this shows that I am serious but I've not missed a deadline so not needed to be chased yet.

Back in the office I draw in AutoCAD or SketchUp what we have discussed and build up my price, I wont go into how I do that though (that's a whole different subject!!)
I have a standard quotation letter that includes my standard T&Cs, the only things I need to change in that are; the project description, the price and anticipated timescales. The drawings are presented on bordered, letterheaded and dated drawing backgrounds and sent in an email with the letter.

To do this properly is a fair amount of work and there is still a chance of it being wasted but by doing all the previous steps I am mitigating the amount of wasted effort.

ST3 - confirmation or declination of the price, if accepted then I immediately acknowledge them and send the account details for the deposit to be paid. Once I have received the deposit the project actually starts and I can start spending some money in materials and time.

I think the whole thing is about managing expectations, giving yourself clear but achievable deadlines and just doing what you promised to do.
Communication is really important, I have a policy of responding as soon as possible, even if it is to say, "I'm sorry but I'm really busy at the moment, I'll give you a call later."
Most people respect honesty so if you are booked up for 3 months then say so right at the start. If you encounter a problem and you are not able to deliver on time, say so as early as possible even if you then actually meet the deadline. Client's prefer to know that they might not get their project for another day than find out you're not coming on the morning you are supposed to be there.

Employing tradespeople is a daunting task for most people, they are employing them because they do not have the knowledge, skills or time to do it themselves so are immediately in a lesser position to the "expert". It is this knowledge/experience gap which some less reputable people have exploited and led to the general consensus that all tradespeople are "rip-off-merchants".
By approaching this in a systematized methodical manner I am trying to remove that anxiety in the initial stages and build a level of trust.

I apologize if I have rambled on and gone off the OPs track but I thought it might help to understand what is involved from the position of the trade professional. It might also help someone taking those initial steps into the self employed joinery world.

A little caveat, I am a qualified Civil Engineer, I have been around the whole "building-stuff-for-money" thing for years but I have only been running my own business for 12 months so I am far from seasoned! If any of the more experienced guys on here wanted to add to what I've said or recommend changes they would be gratefully received. Every day is a school day!

Will
Thank you for your detailed post. From the other side of the coin, I am very clear to anyone I employ to do work for me: don't lie. I can cope with delays, changes, problems, difficulties Sh*t happens, goalposts move, life isn't fair. I get all that, so don't tell me it will be ready tomorrow, when you know damn well it won't be ready for a fortnight. Just tell the truth, and will be fine. "I completely forgot" is so much better than "The dog ate my homework".
 

RobinBHM

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Get an idea of their budget and a then give them a guideline of how much my furniture is.
This is SG2
Your ST1 is a kind of way of qualifying the lead -at this stage you prob decide if its worth a site visit.

I hate to say it but, its worth a couple of minutes on google street view -you can get an idea if the property / area is a match for the product.

Your SG2 is a sales technique known as price conditioning -it can save time and save embarrassment for the client.
The strange thing is that its not whether sonebidy can afford it, it is often whether their preconceived idea of budget matches the actual cost.

Ive found a good way is to find some pics of a recent job that is similar size.....then say 'this lovely job I did in April in richtown was £8,000......yours looks to be a bit bigger with fancier knobs'

I would say get price conditioning on the table as early as poss.....if a customer has no concept of the price then they may well not engage in the design discussions.
 

Lonsdale73

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For the record, the job was to replace existing up and over garage door with a pair of made-to-measure wooden doors. The doors are made and just need someone to hang them properly. Bread & Butter stuff, I'd have thought for someone with 40+ years experience. But what do I know?
 

TFrench

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In fairness I don't like doing labour only jobs in my job. In all honesty, it just smacks of the customer being a tightwad that's going to quibble about prices, pay slowly/never or invent non existent snags to get out of paying. Not true in your case (and I'm an suspicious so-n-so) but I'd say that's why you aren't getting a response. Still no excuse for pig ignorance. If I don't want a job I just put an absurd price in... :D
 

Lonsdale73

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TFrench":1obft3ag said:
In fairness I don't like doing labour only jobs in my job. In all honesty, it just smacks of the customer being a tightwad that's going to quibble about prices, pay slowly/never or invent non existent snags to get out of paying. Not true in your case (and I'm an suspicious so-n-so) but I'd say that's why you aren't getting a response. Still no excuse for pig ignorance. If I don't want a job I just put an absurd price in... :D
That would explain those who don't respond at all. In this instance he was referred to me by a relative (of his) who knew what I wanted and what jobs the joiner would undertake. He came here reasonably well-briefed, quoted an acceptable price and arranged a time to come do the job. To not turn up on the day, without a single word, is unprofessional and extremely rude.

I don't have the luxury of turning down jobs these days but there was one a few years back I really didn't fancy so I quoted them a stupid price which they accepted immediately as if it was nothing. But then, I suppose if your address is simply The Hall and it has it's own postcode then I suppose it probably was nothing to them, especially as they didn't intend to pay it anyway.
 

TFrench

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That sort of person has a different idea of stupid price! :lol:
 

Doug71

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It's so rude when tradesmen don't turn up and don't bother calling to apologise, I'm amazed they stay in business.

Robin, I thought it was only me that looked up the customers house on Google Street view to see if it gets my approval to work on, it's the first thing I do once they give me an address!
 

Lonsdale73

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TFrench":2olbm7xp said:
That sort of person has a different idea of stupid price! :lol:
They were a load of bankers. And what I think was a Saudi prince.
 

Lonsdale73

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Doug71":3o0nkef6 said:
... I thought it was only me that looked up the customers house on Google Street view to see if it gets my approval to work on...!
My cousin used to run his own business and one summer he was so busy I was drafted in to help out. I remember him being called out to do a measure up and quaote and when we pulled up outside the address I looked at him and asked incredulously "Really? As if they're going to have the money to afford you!" But to my surprise - and humbling - he said the lady of the house was one of his best customers. She'd been doing the house up room by room and each time he worked on one, she'd have him quote for the next one, save up and get him back in when she had the money. He said those on lower incomes, living in poorer areas were most likely to be repeat business and less likely to haggle on price.
 

Jonathan S

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[quote
My cousin used to run his own business and one summer he was so busy I was drafted in to help out. I remember him being called out to do a measure up and quaote and when we pulled up outside the address I looked at him and asked incredulously "Really? As if they're going to have the money to afford you!" But to my surprise - and humbling - he said the lady of the house was one of his best customers. She'd been doing the house up room by room and each time he worked on one, she'd have him quote for the next one, save up and get him back in when she had the money. He said those on lower incomes, living in poorer areas were most likely to be repeat business and less likely to haggle on price.quote]





That story remains me of my old days working in Norfolk working for a well oiled individual that rented a famous Hall off the royal estate, well we really struggled to get our money which was priced at a discount as we where given the more work carrot....

That same year we done a job for the dustman that collected for the estate, he lived in a council house....we got tea and bacon butties on tap and when the job was finished he gave us a rather large tip.....





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Phil Pascoe

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A family friend who fitted the bathroom in our old house told me in three decades he'd only ever been badly caught twice - once by an accountant and once by a solicitor.
 

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