Recently, I reacted to a fellow wood flooring pro posting in a Facebook group regarding an issue with a homeowner and Post-It notes. The homeowner left many Post-It notes to mark places on the wood floor that they did not like. From my memory, there were a lot and they were trivial in nature. This homeowner wouldn’t pay the contractor till the “faults” were “fixed.”
He posted pics, and his floor looked wonderful. I used my response to create this post, and in retrospect, I hope you find it helpful. I softened it up a bit since I was upset when I first wrote it! Here it is:
I am not knowing what goes on across the nation, but a particular post kinda disturbed me.
I do not like to hear that house flippers, homeowners, builders and GCs, etc., hold our money for issues that are outside of our trade’s established criteria of judgment for quality.
One pro posted some pics of Post-it notes on his awesome floor courtesy of the homeowner.
That is NONSENSE.
House flippers, homeowners, builders and GCs do not have the capacity to judge our work. They just don't know what the standards are, and I will discount input on my work from the likes of these "judges."
The standards are plainly held by the NWFA, and no other standard can be used.
I once met Daniel Boone while he taught an NWFA class in Riverside, Calif., a few years ago, and I remarked that I wished I were him, because all my jobs would be perfect. He smiled and kindly set me straight. He said something to the effect of, "I have refinished and or installed many wonderful wood floors, but not even one of them was perfect. I have never seen a perfect floor in my life and doubt I ever will." Daniel, if you read this, your response has inspired me all these years, and I want to say “thank you” for it.
"I have never seen a perfect floor in my life and doubt I ever will."
So, fellow pros, stand up to these impossible, ethereal and nonsensical demands and standards these “judges” place on us.
WE are the best judges for our work, and if it's good, hold your hand out, make eye contact and be resolute. DON'T BACK DOWN.
YOU be the professionals you are, and put these house flippers, homeowners, builders and GCs beneath you where they belong.
Look, we are not drywallers, or electricians, or framers or plumbers. The products we make not only have to be assembled or created properly per trade standards, they also must LOOK GOOD. Good enough to please the lady of the house! (In my experience, the lady of the house is the ultimate Last Word on satisfaction and being paid.)
Indeed, if we were drywallers, or electricians, or framers or plumbers, we could assemble a small army of technicians overnight because it is so much easier than for our trade. In our trade, we have be sharply focused on precise measurements, humidity, trowel size, etc. The technical aspects are intense at best, and above it all, our work must be attractive. Assembling and growing our companies is like hiring an army of artists, or warrior poets, as compared with the other trades. This is very tough! No one really cares as much as we do about the little things that no one sees. So, we finish a job and get the satisfaction that goes with it. Some of our projects are so tough we feel like rock stars when we are done, and then we get … Post-It notes?
The assumption is that we have done good work. For us, this is elemental and goes without saying.
So, I suggest we all learn how to lien a job, STOP working for slow-pay customers just because they have work for us, DON'T settle for payment more than 10 days out, document everything and be ever ready to take them to court and sue. Start making your case even before there is a problem. Make them stop talking when you enter the room and listen to what you say.
• Don't lower your gaze for anybody.
• Ask for your money with a firm, commanding tone in your voice.
• Charge a price that is fair and PROFITABLE for you, your employees and your family.
• No “deals” other than “the deal is … you get the job.”
I see our trade as exceptional and aspire to raise the bar higher than it is now. In the end, I hope to be helpful and encourage all of you to stand up to riffraff when it comes.
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