How to Control Crybaby Contractors

He sat there in the doorway, battling whether to go into a full tantrum or regain his cool. I could see the emotions boiling up as his eyes lost their jovial look and regressed into broodiness. I, not wanting to get pulled into the dramatic turmoil, simply stood my ground and waited to see what the outcome would be. “This isn’t fair!” he exclaimed, flailing his arms, protesting under his breath as he walked away.
contractorsThis instance played deja vu for me lately, once with a contractor, and later with my 4 year old nephew. It made me wonder, if both a grown man (getting paid to do a job) and a toddler can behave this way, are contractors any better than children?
To me, real estate investing is a sport. With that, you’re constantly considering players, their stats, reputations, and how you could mutually benefit by having them on your team. Finding contractors is similar. You’ll be researching their pricing, past customer reviews and timelines. Most of the time, the factors that will help determine who you use are price, experience, and availability. But, even if you find a suitable mix of all 3, it’s difficult to tell in the bidding stage if the person you’re hiring will be what you value most: a responsible grown-up professional.
So how do you hold someone that you’ve never worked with to your accepted standards? Just like a child: with an agreement that has consequences. Don’t finish your chores on time? Then, no dessert tonight until they’re done. Don’t finish our contracting duties on time? There’s a penalty for that, as well.

Setting Boundaries

The important thing is establishing this from the get to, not during a complete melt-down, in either instance. Especially during an emotional outburst, feelings tend to run high, the game of “but you said!!” tends to ensue, and the weaker party gives way to the emotional fits of the other. Not an ideal scenario whether you’re trying to stick to a bed time routine or build an addition. Nothing can be worse than giving in under pressure, teaching the other party that their behavior is acceptable, the consequences are not real, and the boundaries you originally set are in fact mutable. This creates a slippery slope that allows much unnecessary challenges, and possibly expenses.
In the case of a contractor or handyman, you’ll want to have a conversation, bid, and agreement signed before the first hammer is swung. This would include an itemized breakdown of the job requirements, who’s paying for what & when, the finish date, and any bonuses or penalties if the deadline isn’t met. Having a signed agreement creates a mutual understanding, but also a way to hold steadfast to a standard when excuses come up (as they often will during construction), emotions run high, or memories get foggy. Signed agreements may not working with your toddler, but I’ve found it sure helps deter toddler-like behavior with contractors. After all, baby-sitting is a low-paying job for teenagers; why would you want to adopt the role when you’re a grown-up, professional real estate investor? Answer: you don’t, and with this easy tip you can find, attract, and keep winners on your team and weed out the whiners.
What do you think? What have you found effective to find and keep quality contractors?
Tracy (G+) is an Arizona Short Sale Realtor, Investor, Rehabber, and Foreclosure Expert.
She also is an avid blogger, vlogger, contributor to Real Estate Magazines, and hosts Real Estate Rescue, a show dedicated to the distressed property market.

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