7 Traits of a Professional Contractor

— by Lynne Brandon

Be the Hero, Not the Horror Story

A Homeowner’s Horror Story

On a quiet afternoon, the homeowner was waiting for kitchen appliances to be delivered in the first step on updating her kitchen. Little did she know it would soon turn into an “appliance nightmare.” The truck arrived and the two-person team came inside to assess the kitchen before bringing in the largest appliance – a refrigerator. The installer eyed the door into the small kitchen with a frown. He quickly whipped out a measuring tape and declared, “The refrigerator will not fit through the door.” Granted the door was narrow, but it had a 29.5-inch width clearance while the refrigerator depth was 27.5 inches.  

The installer refused to attempt to bring in the refrigerator and made it worse by talking rudely to the homeowner. When the homeowner questioned the assessment, he replied, “You are not listening to me. It will not go through this doorway.” He offered no solutions. A dishwasher was one of three remaining appliances to be delivered that day. Upon seeing a copper pipe underneath the sink, the installer further groused and said, “This dishwasher can’t be installed today, this is copper pipe will have to be cut.” He turned around and left. The refrigerator was still on the delivery truck, and the remaining appliances had been deposited in the homeowners’ living room. 

The homeowners’ regular contractor came by the next day to assess the situation. He quickly surmised the problem. According to his measurements, the refrigerator would fit. In fact, the existing older refrigerator was even larger than the new one. The doorway would be a tight clearance, but accessible once the refrigerator doors were removed. Despite it being a quick and easy process, the original installer had not offered to remove the refrigerator doors. 

The professional contractor was able to quickly install the dishwasher, without the need to cut the copper piping. After more than a month from the original attempt, a second refrigerator delivery was successful with a more professional team, who alerted they were on the way by text. 

While the homeowner finally had working appliances, time lost and stress cannot be retracted. The experience brought to light the glaring difference between working with professional contractors who do quality work and care about customer satisfaction, and those who do not. 

Why is being a professional important for residential contractors? For most people, their home is their most prized possession and investment. Not only are homes one of the largest financial investments that most individuals make, homes are also their most personal space. Homes are where life happens and where time is spent with family. Homes are a refuge. Poor behavior by contractors in someone’s home feels invasive and is considered completely unacceptable. On the other hand, contractors who conduct themselves professionally often rise to heroic levels in the eyes of homeowners. Contractors are the ones who save the day… from stopping a flood to restoring heat or getting that new dishwasher installed before Thanksgiving dinner.

From a business perspective, contractors who conduct themselves professionally are the ones who tend to stay busy from word-of-mouth referrals. They are the ones who will be called the next time a problem arises and who will be recommended to the friends and neighbors of their customers. On the other hand, contractors who do not conduct themselves professionally can quickly lose business. No matter how skilled a contractor is at their trade, tracking mud across new carpet or having a misunderstanding with a homeowner can quickly overshadow any quality work that was performed. Whether a contractor owns their own business or works for a company, professionalism can make or break their career. 

So what are some of the top hallmarks of a professional contractor that will set them apart and likely increase business? Customers expect quality work, but what will set a professional apart from the competition is attention to small details that add up to a lasting and good impression.

7 Traits of a Professional Contractor

1. Be on Time. 

It goes without saying that being on time is expected of a professional. With today’s technology there is no longer an excuse for not letting a customer know if a contractor is running behind schedule. This means making a quick phone call or sending a text to the customer alerting them of the delay.

2. Same Page Approach.  

Presenting a detailed scope and explanation of the project approach to the customer is important. Updates should be reviewed with the customer on an ongoing basis. “We take the time to write out a plan for the project and keep the customer updated as we go along,” said Dustin Brady, Master Plumber and Managing Partner of Momentum Pro Services. The company, focuses on plumbing and other value-added construction services for commercial and residential projects.

3. Communication, Communication, Communication. 

Daily updates to customers on project status, schedule and any new discovery, should be made via phone, text, or email — ideally using the customer’s preferred method of communication. “Changes can easily occur once on the job and we like to avoid any surprises,” said Brady.

4. Problem Solving/Being Proactive.

 Identification of possible upcoming problems, as well as offering alternative or longer-term solutions brings everyone peace of mind. When on a job, a professional contractor observes and alerts customers of any other equipment that might need servicing while onsite. This saves time for both the contractor and consumer by possibly eliminating the need for another service call (when schedules allow), which can result in a cost savings.

5. Education. 

“We ensure that the customer is updated on any new equipment installed, potential preventive maintenance schedules that are recommended to follow, and answer any/all questions about products and approach,” said Brady. “Customers can contact us with follow up questions at any time.”

6. Clean Job Site. 

Maintaining a “clean as we go” jobsite to minimize any disruption to a customer’s work or living space is a hallmark of a professional contractor. Keeping work mess contained as much as possible is key and making sure the area is as clean as possible before leaving the site is important. If the site is a “shoeless” one, contractors should wear shoe covers to minimize damage from work boots.

7. Satisfied Project Completion.

 “We will not disengage from a job until a customer is fully satisfied,” said Brady. “Depending on the scope of project, we schedule internal reminders to follow up with client a day, a week and/or a month later to ensure there are no issues to follow-up on.” 

7 Traits of a Professional Contractor story intro
Yelp Reviews

Actual reviews from yelp.com demonstrating the difference in customer satisfaction when contractors do and don’t exhibit the traits of a professional.

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This article first appeared in the February/March 2023 print edition of Southern PHC. View the entire issue online, or for all of our recent issues, visit the Digital Issues page.

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7 Traits of a Professional Contractor