pergola with privacy screens Markham

Life as a Contractor

by

Sometimes it is frustrating.

I worked for more than 20 different contractors before starting my business.

I took a course on carpentry framing and read books on Japanese temple building and hundreds of magazines like Fine Homebuilding. I even quit drinking for a couple of years because my cuts were more accurate the day after.

Sometimes I didn’t get paid.

I was injured badly enough not to work for months on end 2 or 3 times.

My work was featured in a 2-page spread in the Toronto Star and in magazine articles across North America. Our crew was even on HGTV shows a couple of times.

I embraced the internet early and at one point we had 1 million unique visits a year. So I shared the leads and my expertise with other prideful builders across North America. Our brand of woodwork spread far and wide.

Then, 2008 happened and most of our builders had more than 3 houses, so, there was nobody to share the leads with.

I have always tried to design to last decades–not years. That takes the right materials, training, and new techniques. It’s costly. Coming up with new ways of doing things means experimentation and that takes time. It involves visiting sites years and decades later to see what worked and what didn’t. In business, time is money.

I guess I am saying that I invested in the business development a bit too much.

When you are young, and you look young, sometimes you can’t get the price you need to do the job to your standards.

So I did it anyway–to build the portfolio.  I accepted less as an investment in the future. We’ll get into more about that later.

Business is never a smooth ride–there are bumps, sometimes things break, things go wrong. That is business!

Here’s the point.

I get about 30 calls a week from people wanting us to do work. Most of these people haven’t seen the website and have no idea what we do.

It’s frustrating.

They say, “What’s your best price on a deck?”

I say, “You just want the cheapest deck?”

I think to myself, “If only they knew why that was such a mistake”.

Then I patiently and carefully try to explain why cheapest is not really the best value.

Is it not better to look for opportunities than invest time into dwelling on what went wrong in the past?

Contractors have to remember that people really have no clue what things are worth–and when you have an honest discussion about budgets most people appreciate your candor. Make every interaction count–even if it is just 3 minutes on the phone.