Over the last couple of months, CanadianContractor.ca has put out a series of video clips from an interview they did with Mike Holmes. The Holmes Spot has been reviewing them one by one as they come out, and I'm happy to report that as the series has progressed, the videos have become less and less vitriolic in nature, knock on wood. I love to see Mike shed his TV star persona and put on his contractor boots, which is exactly what this interview series was designed to do. The further we get into this interview, it seems, the more more technical the questions and answers get, and I love it!
Here's the video, the 8th part in the series:
This portion of the interview was right up Mike's ally: education. Mike has "Make It Right" tattooed on one arm, he really should get "Educate the Consumer" on the other. As the host points out within the first few of seconds of the interview, Mike puts the onus of educating the customer directly on the contractor's shoulders. Mike explains how too often he sees a contractor go into a home, listen to what the customer wants and then simply quote them a price, with no explanation as to why. This becomes a problem when the homeowner gets several quotes from several different contractors. What are you going to do with 10 pieces of paper with 10 different figures on it? How do you choose the best guy for the job based only on a price tag? And as we've all learned by watching Holmes on Homes, choosing the highest bidder doesn't always assure the client he or she is getting the best contractor for the job, nor does choosing the lowest bidder, or any bidder in between! The way to fill in that gap is for the contractor to educate the customer about the "why" of the job. It's also about getting to know each other, as the contractor-client relationship is often more complicated than a dating relationship. I found it pretty funny when Mike said if he didn't want to work with a client, he'd simply give him the most excessively high quote he'd ever seen. The reason it was so funny to me is because in my business, I've done the exact same thing. As a wedding photographer, if I felt the clients were going to be more trouble than they were worth, I'd simply tell them that the particular weekend they were getting married was a very busy weekend for me, and that I wouldn't be able to do their wedding without an 8-hour minimum at $400 an hour (more than double my going rate), plus an album and extras. I've never had anyone take me up on that offer.
The crux of the video in my eyes was when Mike explained how it's important for the contractor to explain the good, the better, and the best way to do the job to the client. Mike thinks it's important for the contractor to establish a line, "what's the cheapest way that they're willing to do the job." For Mike, it's about the integrity of the job, and telling the customer that you're not willing to do substandard work with substandard materials because it's the cheapest way it can be done. "Then you've done your job," states Mike. "If the homeowner hasn't picked you, it's probably for a very good reason. It has nothing to do with you. It's because all they care about is the money." The interview ends there. Pretty good interview. I really enjoyed it, and I think what Mike had to say made a lot of sense.