This is the second post in a series about managing contractors. You may want to start with the first tip: “Communicate Clearly.”
TIP #2: GENUINE COMPLIMENTS
I grew up in construction. Many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins are tradesmen or architects, and my father frequently boasts that he used to have to crank my baby swing in between wiring fixtures and outlets. So trust me when I say that although many contractors project a rough, no-nonsense, down to business persona, they still really want some recognition of a job well done.
There are numerous polls and surveys on employee motivation that consistently rate “feeling appreciated” higher than pay or benefits. (Here are a couple of articles from Forbes and Gallup.) All of us want to know that the work that we do matters and that someone has noticed it, and contractors are no different. In fact, I think that self-employed individuals tend to be even more motivated by positive feedback from their clients.
If a contractor gives you a bid, he or she actually just has to do the job required as quickly as possible to turn a profit. But I’ve been amazed at the number of times I’ve seen a contractor spend extra time and energy on something just to make it a little nicer. This extra attention to detail comes from a drive to build something good, which I believe is the primary motivator for good tradesmen and women.
So what can you do? It’s simple. Give genuine and specific compliments. Vague “Good job!” statements don’t work because they sound superficial. Mention something that really impressed you. For example, I once told an electrician, “Hey, I know it took a lot longer for you to run the conduit that way, but the way you hid it makes the barn look much nicer. Thanks for putting in the extra time.” He walked away beaming and from then on always made sure that things looked really perfect when he was done. If you are a property manager or agent, you can even just say, “Man, the owners were blown away at the job you did. Thanks for addressing that so quickly!” I promise you that your compliment will make his or her day so much better.
The best part about appreciation is that it is absolutely free! It will make your contractors go the extra mile and address problems more quickly. Where are you going to get a better ROI than that?
Contributed by Cassie Villela
Cassie Villela is a real estate investor and mother of two in San Antonio, Texas.