Chapter 6 – Do the Job

The purpose of this chapter is not to teach the technical skills of your trade; it’s to tell you how to apply the technical skills that you already have in a way which will make you a profit.

To do well as a contractor, you will need to have both technical skills and administrative skills. By “technical skills,” I mean the nuts and bolts of how to paint, do carpentry, wire a house, etc. By “administrative skills” I mean the skills necessary to manage the activities of a job in such a way that you end up with both a happy customer and a profit.

A painter could have tremendous skill in painting, but if he were so incompetent as a businessman that he lost a customer’s phone number and address, he would not be able to do the job. On the other hand, a painter could sell a customer a job, but if he did a poor painting job, the customer might not pay him. So, having technical skill only, or having administrative skill only, will not do. You must be competent in both.

There are two rules about this:

1. TO DO WELL ON A JOB, YOU MUST HAVE THE TECHNICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE SKILLS NECESSARY TO DO THE JOB PROPERLY

2. A PROPERLY DONE JOB RESULTS IN A HAPPY CUSTOMER AND A HAPPY CONTRACTOR

You don’t have to know everything about your trade to be a successful contractor.

An electrical contractor doesn’t need to know how to wire up a nuclear power plant in order to work on houses. And that same electrical contractor doesn’t need to have all of the administrative skills necessary to run a thousand man company if what he has is a five man company. But, if that electrical contractor is going to be successful, HE HAD BETTER KNOW AN AWFUL LOT ABOUT DOING ELECTRICAL WORK IN HOUSES AND RUNNING FIVE MAN COMPANIES!

The point here is that before you take on any job, be sure you have both the technical skills and administrative skills necessary to do that particular job properly.

Assuming that you are competent in the technical skills of your trade, you are ready to ask yourself this question WHAT ARE THE ADMINISTRATIVE SKILLS NECESSARY TO DO A JOB ?

Here are the basic technical and administrative actions of DOING THE JOB:

1. GET ALL THE INFORMATION NECESSARY FOR YOU TO DO THE JOB

2. SCHEDULE THE JOB

3. SEND THE CORRECT MANPOWER TO THE JOB

4. SEND THE CORRECT MATERIALS TO THE JOB

5. DO THE WORK

Notice that the first four actions of the job are administrative. Only the last step, DO THE WORK, is primarily a technical activity. This is an important point to understand, because no matter how properly you can DO THE WORK, you are not likely to make a profit on that job unless you can properly do all the actions needed to completely DO THE JOB.

Let’s examine each of these five points and see what is necessary to do them properly:

1. GET ALL THE INFORMATION NECESSARY FOR YOU TO DO THE JOB

Normally, you will get this information while selling the job to the customer and immediately after selling. Here are some of the things you will need to know if you want the job to go smoothly:

A. Exactly what the work will be. You should already know almost everything about the job because you got that information when you were figuring out how much to charge the customer. However, now that you have actually sold the job, take a moment to go over with the customer any and all questions you or the customer may have about the work. Now is the time to be sure that both of you clearly understand the scope of the work involved and how much that work is going to cost.

B. Where to find the job and where to find the customer. Get the job address. Get the billing address. Get the customer’s home and office phone numbers. Also get the phone number at the job site if it is different than the home or office number.

C. Where to find any other people related to the job. Architects, engineers, inspectors, next door neighbors, apartment managers, other contractors on the job — if you think that you are going to need to talk with any other people related to the job, get their phone numbers. If you need to get these numbers from the customer, the time to do this is when you are talking with him, not when you are looking for him so you can to get one of these numbers but can’t find him (probably because you don’t have his right phone number!).

It’s not enough to get the proper and necessary information about a job; you must be able to keep the information in such a way that you can get to it again later.

The best way to do this is to make up and use a form. Put all the important information on it that you need. You can add to it as the job progresses. If you put all of the information in one place, and if you have a way to easily find the form when you need it, you will be in good shape.

2. SCHEDULE THE JOB

Make an exact agreement with the customer as to when you will start the job and how long the job will take. Then, make sure that both of you keep this agreement. That’s really about all there is to it.

If, for some reason, you are not going to keep your scheduling agreement with a customer, AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY let the customer know so that you and the customer can reschedule the work for another time. Not telling the customer until the last minute or not telling the customer at all can result in a very annoyed customer!

Also, if you need the customer or another contractor to be at the job site so you can do your work, it is a good idea to confirm that they are definitely going to be there before driving out. In this way you can avoid an unnecessary and costly trip.

3. SEND THE CORRECT MANPOWER TO THE JOB

The name of the game here is to do the job as efficiently as possible. The less you spend on labor, the more money you will have left over as profit. This does not mean that you should cut any corners doing the work or pay your employees badly. It does mean that you and your employees must strive to do the work as correctly and quickly as possible. Sometimes, two men working one day will cost less than one man working two days. Sometimes, it is the reverse. You will have to look over the available manpower at your disposal and decide how best to handle each job.

4. SEND THE CORRECT MATERIALS TO THE JOB

It is obvious that you will need the correct materials for the job, but it is sometimes missed that when you get those materials to the job site can greatly affect your profit.

One of the biggest mistakes contractors make in the area of materials is not having enough stock on their truck when they come to the job site. They are then forced to waste valuable time driving somewhere to get the material that they need instead of concentrating on getting the job done.

Another common error contractors make is not ordering the material they need early enough to get the job done on schedule.

There are many errors of this nature that can be made. Fortunately, if you are on the alert for them, potential problems of this sort can generally be spotted in advance.

5. DO THE WORK

Properly doing the work requires technical skill and an intention to do the work correctly. Not much more needs to be said about this. The only thing I’ll add here is that, if you want to maximize your profit on a job, do it right the first time. Doing a job twice and getting paid for it once is not a very good way to make a profit.

After all the work has been done on a job, there is one last thing necessary for the customer to feel that the job is complete. He will want to see that the job site is cleaned up. It is fine if he has already agreed to handle the necessary clean-up. But if not, take the time to clean up any debris. Leaving a job site slightly cleaner than when you started your work almost always results in a happy customer.

Then go collect your money from your happy customer.