For some, being in the trades is just a job and a means to an end. For others, it's a calling – a part of their very existence. Some tradespeople hold themselves to the highest of standards and hold true to the things they believe and care about. The challenge for any homeowner is to…
For some, being in the trades is just a job and a means to an end. For others, it's a calling – a part of their very existence. Some tradespeople hold themselves to the highest of standards and hold true to the things they believe and care about. The challenge for any homeowner is to find a tradesperson who cares about and loves what they do – a tradesperson who is professional in appearance and in how he or she conducts business.
According to a recent survey, 58% of homeowners say they find it difficult to find a tradesperson they trust to help with either home repairs or improvements. Women are more likely to find it “very difficult” to find a tradesperson they trust to help with home repairs or improvements. In the United Kingdom alone, almost £ 2 billion a year is spent to repair botched jobs by tradespeople who were not qualified to do the work.
Although there are many trustworthy tradespeople throughout the world, why do so many homeowners experience difficulty finding an honest, reliable, professional tradesperson? The answer is not easy, but I will attempt to share my experience and opinion.
I have over 30 years experience as a tradesman, with experience in; building construction, plumbing, tiling, plastering and decorating. As a young man, I enjoyed going to school, but my focus was always on learning a living and raising a family. As a result, I decided to leave home during my late teenage years to attempt to make my mark on the world. Once out there, although I had good work-ethics, I found it difficult to land a good job because I did not possess the 'qualifications' required, nor did I have a University degree. Consequently, the only jobs available to me were labor jobs or working at a convenience store. Fortunately, I found a tradesman who hired me and jump-started my career by teaching me how to lay tile. From that point, I learned the building, plumbing, plastering and decorating trades.
Most schools are under pressure to keep kids in the classroom until they graduate. Unfortunately, there are many youngsters who are either academically inclined and have difficulty with studies, or for one reason or another have become a disruption to classmates. As a result, more schools are forming a Department called, “Alternative Provision,” or “Alternative Learning.” This is where many non-academic and / or disruptive children are finding themselves.
Alternative Provisional children are exposed to alternative forms of learning such as, the Work-Study Program. Here is where youngsters can apply to a Trades School or College, and they can experience on-the-job training doing such things as; working in the trades, learning how to be a beautician, and other fields that may not require a University degree. Thus, we have an abundance of youngsters becoming tradespeople because they can not find gainful, employment due to the lack of a university degree or another specialized training.
There are many people who are in the trades because 'it's the only thing they can do,' or because it's the only thing that they qualified to do. I believe most tradespeople want to do a good job and take pride in their work. The challenge is, many tradespeople do not possess the skills to set themselves apart from the rest. They are not good business people. I have listed some ways tradespeople fall short of a professional, high quality standard that will deliver positive outcomes in their business:
• They write estimates on a napkin or piece of dirty paper
• They show up to appointments late and are not dressed in an appropriate manner
• They forget to send out invoices or forget to follow up on outstanding invoices
• They do not schedule their time efficiently and live a, 'feast or famine' existence
• They do not provide clean, professional customer estimates and invoices, nor do they have systems to track them
• They do not manage conversations with customers. A customer may say one thing today, and another thing tomorrow. If you do not have a record of that conversation, the job will turn into confusion and become a 'he said-she said' challenge
• They do not carefully manage their time and miss or forget to respond to customer calls
• They do not have systems in place to maintain an accurate customer base
• They find themselves having to “chase customers” for payment
• They do not have a Professional Presence
The list can go on and on, but I think you get the picture …
Life is good when you're working. However, there always comes the time when you are not as busy as you would like. This is the time when many tradespeople begin to ask friends for work or they look into joining some website that promises to 'send them leads.' I have found these sites to be misleading because they do not address the real issue – helping tradespeople to become more reliable and professional!
These sites charge high fees but do not produce the goods. Let's be honest; How can anyone refer a “Trusted Trader?” The only referral anyone can give is; “He has done a fantastic job for me, or I would never use him again.”
Unfortunately, this tend to be much like Trip Advisor, where a hotel may receive high rating by someone, but your experience might be totally opposite …
The one thing any qualified, tradesperson can do is; become more professional at what you do!
I will address ways to become a more professional tradesperson, in my next article.