Series: Managing Contractors - Part 3
TIP #3: PAY PROMPTLY...WHEN THE JOB IS DONE
Out of all of the skills to develop for managing contractors effectively, this is probably the biggest no-brainer. Most of us understand what it feels like to be owed money by someone who is taking just a little too long to pay. It isn’t pleasant. For contractors who have paid for materials or hired labor out of pocket, it is especially painful.
If you are in property management or real estate sales, a roster of loyal contractors is among your biggest assets. One of the ways to ensure that contractors will always respond to your calls quickly is to develop a reputation as someone who pays their bills quickly. Spending time or energy collecting on past due bills, or worrying about whether or not they’ll be paid at all, is the last thing that any small business owner wants to be doing. So save them the anxiety and earn yourself some bonus points by being the customer they never have to worry about.
One note of caution: don’t pay in full until the job is done. You don’t have to ask many people to hear a story about a contractor who took a down-payment on a project and left town. While you can mostly avoid this scenario by choosing a reputable contractor who has been in business for a long time, it’s never a good idea to risk it. It’s perfectly normal, on large jobs, for contractors to propose a draw schedule. This breaks the job price down into several payments so that they can pay for materials and labor along the way. In this structure, generally the last draw will be about 10-15% of the total and will be the builder’s profit. If you agree to this kind of structure, just make sure that everything is in writing and there is a schedule of completion that is being followed. However, as soon as the job is completed to your satisfaction, pay that final draw as quickly as possible. Again, once you find a good contractor, you want him or her to remember you as someone who is fair and pays quickly.
Keep in mind that especially in the current market, good contractors usually have plenty of work on their schedule. That means that they can be picky about who they work for right now. If you find a good one, paying them quickly will ensure that they want to keep you as a customer!
Contributed by Cassie Villela
Cassie Villela is a real estate investor and mother of two in San Antonio, Texas.