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 05-22-2004, 06:19 Post: 86567
bnrhuffman



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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

I just started my part time business. I do grading, leveling, digging, trenching and so on. Im doing one of my first jobs as we speak. It involves removing a couple of stumps, cutting into a hillside to grade and level off a 400 sq ft area for a concrete slab around her shed and hauling the excess dirt away.
I started the job thursday morning against my better judgement. It had rained wednesday night and I knew it would be muddy and soft. I told my client this and she said to start it anyway. I show up, pull my truck/trailer/tractor into the yard to get it off the street and sink 3" deep ruts in her wet yard. I tell her Im sorry about the ruts, she says its ok. I start work with the tractor but I feel that all Im making is a mess of her yard, much more colateral damage than Im comfortable with, she says its ok. I spend way too much time digging sticky, wet clay out of the backhoe bucket, tractor time that im willing to eat. I end up at the end of the day with a muddy mess, only half the job done and ruts and mud all around the site. Not too happy with myself, I go home and stew over what I should have done differently. What I came up with is that I shouldnt have even started it knowing the conditions. Now Ive left it a half finished mess. She wanted me to come back Friday to finish the job. I told her I would if it wasnt raining but it rained again early Friday morning so I decided not to. Its now Saturday morn and its been raining all night and it looks like rain again tonight. I can finish the job in the rain or mud but it wouldnt be a pretty site when Im done. Ive always had a special hate for contractors that come in and start a job only to never seem to finish it. This job, under normal conditions, should only be a day at most, now it looks like at least four days. While the client hasnt exactly said "get over here and finish this" she has said "come on over, dont worry about the yard or the ruts" but I do worry because it makes me look sloppy. As far as I know, she has no special reason for it to be done right away except for my equipment and the mess in her yard.
Do I follow my judgement and give it a couple days to dry up or do I give the client what she asks for.
I plan to call her later today and explain my side but I would like some imput from those with more experience.






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 05-23-2004, 04:56 Post: 86628
harvey



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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

Hindsight is usually ... Unless it's an emergency plugged septic, water running in a wall... You already know the answer.

Go inperson and tell her that you are doing more damage and are not willing to do a sloppy looking job and will finish the work she requested and fix your ruts and reseed those areas no charge when it dries out.

The beauty of old people is they have a network and you should get good references for your honesty and good work despite the conditions.






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 05-23-2004, 07:30 Post: 86636
BillMullens

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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

Maybe some of the pros will chime in. From my experience dealing with the public, they usually want and need somebody to tell them what is right. Maybe you are just starting out with your business, but you still have a better idea of the correct way to approach it than the customer does. People appreciate straight answers.
It looks like it will be dry enough here today to finally disc and plant my garden, maybe today is dry enough for you, too. (If you don't mind working on Sunday).
Good luck,
Bill






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 05-25-2004, 02:29 Post: 86759
bnrhuffman



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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

Well I went back over Sunday for a couple of hours. I got most of the dirt removed Thursday so I started grading it Sunday. I found out that Im much better at grading than digging. The actual excavation of the site had me baffled and I felt like I was just spinning my wheels (literally). The combination of wet conditions, clay dirt (how can it be slippery and sticky at the same time), tight quarters and a slope, really made me feel like a bull in a china shop, especially with the backhoe on. Once I took the backhoe off and put the box blade on, I felt at ease again. The grading went good, I filled in the ruts and finished the job today and all is well. Im glad to be done. This is the first job Ive done that has taken me more than a few hours and I hated leaving my tractor and trailer at the site for 4 days (Actually 5 days, It started getting dark as I was finishing today so I left my equipment and will go get it in the morning.)






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 05-25-2004, 05:32 Post: 86760
hardwood

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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

When I started my furniture business in the late 70's a man who had been in business for years working for the public said "Never let a piece you're not happy with out the door." Sometimes a customer would want something built that was nearly impossible to build and keep the cost at a reasonable level, but I learned that if you'll take the time to explain the process of how something is put together and why it would be pricey to build it exactly like the picture in their minds eye saw it 90% of the people will understand and either tell you to go ahead that they understand the costs involved, or they would scale down to where the cost was more reasonable. Most of those people turned out to be annual customers and now my Son is still serving them. I guess my whole point in this rambling is that one bad job will say more about your busines than twenty good ones, so never take on a job that you know you can't do right. Kinda like the real estate business where the buzz word is "Location, Location, etc.", working with the public it's "Communication, Communication". In one respect our two businesses are different, a pluged sewer needs to get fixed even in the rain, while we work in a more controled environment, but for both of us communicatiion is still the bigest key to success. Best of luck in your new venture. Frank.






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 05-25-2004, 14:36 Post: 86817
bnrhuffman



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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

gFrank, Thanks for the words of wisdom. "communication" how very true. One of the things that prompted me to start a business was the experience my wife and I had getting our house built 6 years ago. Only about half of the contractors we used were reliable. The other half woudnt show when they said they would, wouldnt finish jobs they started or had to be watched constantly to see they did what they were supposed to. I have no idea how they stayed in business but they did. I would chalk it up to my poor choices of contractors but as I talked to people, I find out that Im not the only one that experiences this problem.
This is why it bugged me so much to not get the job done the day I started it. The good thing is that I stayed in communication with my client and let her know what was going on and why I didnt show on the days that it was muddy. The job is done to both our standards and while it did take me 4 days to complete it, I can recall similar tasks while I was building my home that the contractors stretched out to a couple of weeks or more.
I went over today to pick up my equipment. When I got there she was happily spreading seed and straw over the site and her boyfriend was measuring for the forms to pour the pads.






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 05-25-2004, 14:54 Post: 86818
Murf

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 need some advice (when to finish this job)

Sorry, I missed this thread completely somehow.

One of the biggest mistakes any self-employed person can make is not saying "no" when they should. One of the major things they teach you in business school is to not over-reach. It is too tempting to say yes every time the phone rings.

In fact I read a study recently that found most self-employed people were so afraid of being without work that they knowingly accepted jobs they KNEW they were to busy to take on, on a REGULAR BASIS. This is what leads to trades not showing up or disappearing as soon as you turn your back, they have to constantly run between jobs to keep too many people happy.

The result is they spend all their time driving around instead of working and in the end they make even less than if they had just said no in the first place.

The happy result, however, if you're brave enough to say your too busy to do something now, is that often your work becomes even more in demand, meaning you can demand more for it. The waiting list means you will never be without work.

Presently we are taking bookings for 'big jobs' for the winter of 2005/2006.... small jobs we can usually get to in 3 months.

Do your honest best and nobody will ever fault you for it.

Best of luck.






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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Just For Fun Off Topic Forum

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