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  #11  
Old 12-19-2007, 02:14 AM
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The Lighting Geek The Lighting Geek is offline
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It really is a tough situation when it happens to you. Tim has some great points. I believe in working it out, documenting, and charging for the changes. I do believe the demo process helps because they agree to what they see not what we propose.

I just had a client just drive me nuts about details out of our scope of work. She was elderly and did not understand that her gardener was responsible. We kept on taking care of her until she was happy. The next day she sent me 6 leads on paper with names, addresses, and phone numbers. She raved about us to each prospect before we got to them. This time it worked out, sometimes I just go home and have glass of wine and a cigar, sometimes I beat the crap out of my heavy bag... LOL! But most of all we can't afford the negative press you get by not working it out.
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  #12  
Old 12-19-2007, 02:59 AM
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John Zaprala John Zaprala is offline
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There's always gonna be the customer's that CAN'T BE PLEASED! I'm repeating here, but in black & white should say something like we agree to provide materials and labor to perform the following:
1) Install X# of (Model/color of light) (size/wattage) (Brand name) fixtures as shown in design.
2) Install X# of (size/watt) transformers connected to fixture using (type wire/connectors)
you get the idea... these customers help us learn that you can't take these things for granted. I never like saying, "It's not in our contract..." so I don't instead if this lady started making changes on the fly. Respectfully say, "Mrs. Jones (or whatever), I'm sure you can understand that we have a schedule to keep and need to maintain a steady pace. I can assure you you will be pleased when the project is complete. We'll gladly make any changes you'd like once we're complete, but I really need to keep my guys moving to complete your project in a timely manner as promised."
Notice HOW you say it key, I'm sure you understand... meaning you're an idiot or highly unreasonable if you disagree. The other key point is having the above clause in your contract: Any changes, alterations, to this contract will be incur additional charges and be docuamented by a change order.
CHANGE ORDERSSSS! So, you keep her off you back until you finish, then when she wants to make changes say "I'd be happy to, I'll just write up a change order and we'll take care of that for ya" usually this where she'd be like, "What!? but you said you would make the changes?" I did, but I didn't say I was doing it for free. Not only that she signed a document showing she's aware of additional charges for anything outside the scope of the original contract. I always refer to a drawing, whether it's 6 lights or 100. Make it part of the contract by referring to it in your contract.
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  #13  
Old 12-19-2007, 07:58 AM
pete scalia pete scalia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly Prof. Lighting View Post
Demo, Demo, Demo,- If you demo before and then get the approval on it then no problem. If they start asking for changes I am happy to oblige, I just pull out my change order book and add it on to the bill at the end. At 65.00 per hour plus material, I will move lights and wire around all season long until they are happy. I state this very clearly in my contract. Once they give me an approval on the demo and design with a signature; that is it. Any changes are extra. Trust me, when you start writing up change orders and have them sign them with an estimate prior to executing them, they will stop very, very quickly. People want you to do extra for nothing, once you give in to them once it is over. They will expect it from you. Always carry a change order book with you and have them sign it before you start the extra work. It will stop, trust me.
Demo would not have made a difference with this one. The first 25 lights were a demo. She said she loved it and then 2 days later changed her mind. With some people there is no reasoning.
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  #14  
Old 12-19-2007, 08:23 AM
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JoeyD JoeyD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly Prof. Lighting View Post
Demo, Demo, Demo,- If you demo before and then get the approval on it then no problem. If they start asking for changes I am happy to oblige, I just pull out my change order book and add it on to the bill at the end. At 65.00 per hour plus material, I will move lights and wire around all season long until they are happy. I state this very clearly in my contract. Once they give me an approval on the demo and design with a signature; that is it. Any changes are extra. Trust me, when you start writing up change orders and have them sign them with an estimate prior to executing them, they will stop very, very quickly. People want you to do extra for nothing, once you give in to them once it is over. They will expect it from you. Always carry a change order book with you and have them sign it before you start the extra work. It will stop, trust me.
Tim, your stealing my lines!!
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  #15  
Old 12-19-2007, 08:37 AM
Mike M Mike M is offline
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Change Order book?? I want one, is there an offical-looking generic one at Staples with carbon copy? Or do you just use a blank tablet and make your own? If this is a form available I want it now and I want to go back in time for many landscaping jobs with PITA customers. Brilliant.
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  #16  
Old 12-19-2007, 08:54 AM
nate mullen nate mullen is offline
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Location: escondido, ca.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Solecki - INTEGRA View Post
Joey, I wasn't aware that you are also an independant contractor and an entreprenuer. All along I figured you were just pulling a salary from 'the man'.

Your advice above would not sit very well in the real world. The last thing anyone of us independant small businesses needs is a disgruntled and pissed off client heading off to the country club for dinner with lots of their friends. Bad news travels fast.... Best to make every client a happy client. That is what pays off in the long run.
Hey James,

I'm glad you bring up this type of a view point. It is one that I always disagree with, to become an artist weather it be in paint, sculpture, music, or in our case lighting you have to create your own style. Joey is right in a sense you must signature every single job, this is what seperates me from some some stupid homeowner who has never done a lighting job in their life. How dare the homeowner have me come out and waste my time by trying to tell me the professional how to do my job. I will tell her to her face "how many lighting jobs have you done?......Oh None?" At this point I leave or she shuts up. I have worked way to hard to build my reputation on great lighting jobs to have one homeowner ruin it for me. I do not need or want her money.

In response to your other point about bad news travels fast, the only thing she can say is that I walked off the job and did not take her money, how dare me. I only hurt her ego. James, just so you know I have done that many of times and just about all have had me back. At that point they know there is a seperation between highering me and highering a guy off the corner to slap in a malibu kit.

So Pete, this is a time in your carreer just like I remember my first time and it gave me the extra confidence, cockyness, reputation, and taught me how to better my pre qualifying techniques. (another subject I could write volumes on)

Not all people like the same music, art, or style so I always say find those who do like your music, art, or style and charge double!

To A Brighter Future,

Nate
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  #17  
Old 12-19-2007, 10:53 AM
steveparrott steveparrott is offline
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I call your attention to the article: http://trustedadvisor.com/articles/40

It makes the argument that there is no such thing as a difficult client, only relationships that don't work.

There are many reasons why relationships don't work. Sometimes we are so anxious (fearful) to make a sale that we abandon good judgement (promise too much, neglect writing a solid contract, agree to unreasonable demands, etc.) Building a relationship upon poor judgement is starting off on the wrong foot and opening the door to a poor relationship.

If we find ourselves in a bad relationship situation (like Pete's), the key is to focus on repairing the relationship - openly acknowledging that faulty judgement was used at the onset in writing the contract - failing to anticipate the clients need for such hands-on creative involvement (that's putting it in terms agreeable to the client).

A sit-down with the client would serve to re-affirm the contractors good intentions and commitment to doing the work. At the same time the relationship problem (remember, it's a problem for both the homeowner and the contractor) could be discussed and worked out. The solution might be abandon the project, but more likely, the homeowner would be willing to compromise either by agreeing to additional change fees or putting more trust in the contractors work.
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  #18  
Old 12-19-2007, 11:30 AM
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JoeyD JoeyD is offline
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Both Steve and Nate have great advice hear.

Just remeber one thing if you try to repair the relationship make sure you do not destroy your reputation.
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  #19  
Old 12-19-2007, 12:21 PM
irrig8r irrig8r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
Change Order book?? I want one, is there an offical-looking generic one at Staples with carbon copy? Or do you just use a blank tablet and make your own? If this is a form available I want it now and I want to go back in time for many landscaping jobs with PITA customers. Brilliant.
Any change order should refer back to the original contract, like "addendum to contract #01234, dated March 21, 2007", or whatever, and be signed by both parties with a copy for you and one for them. You might find something at an office supply store, but you also might want to create a template in MS Word, or whatever you use, to meet your specific needs...

Crossing all the T's and dotting the I's may seem like a hassle if you've never done it, but if you want something that will hold up in court should the need arise, attention to detail goes farther. Documenting changes with dated photos could also help.

Your state may have specific language regarding contracts. Keep up to date on them. Contracts here in California are required to have specific wording in them, including a whole page in bold type for the customer to use if they want out of the contract (inside of 3 business days).

I just found out last year about specific language changes and requirements for service and repair contracts...
Sometimes the unlicensed fly-by-nights have an easier time of it...

Lastly, pre-screening customers can be a hassle... but well worth it. When's the last time you asked a customer for references of other people they've had work for them?

Too much trouble? How about dropping subtle questions during an initial walk-thru... "Oh, your house looks nice in this color.. who did your painting?" or how about "Nice pruning job on those oak trees. I'm looking for someone to do that, would you recommend them?" And then call the painter or tree pruner and see what kind of client they are, if they pay on time, etc.

Do you search for anything about them online? I Googled one recently and found out he was not only the owner of a sports bar (that I knew about), but partner in another really upscale, white linen eatery too. Or another who I knew was an electrical engineer by training, who happens to run one of the big venture capital funds in town. In each of these cases I increased the scope of the project and they went for it.
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Last edited by irrig8r; 12-19-2007 at 12:26 PM.
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  #20  
Old 12-19-2007, 12:47 PM
irrig8r irrig8r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveparrott View Post
I call your attention to the article: http://trustedadvisor.com/articles/40

It makes the argument that there is no such thing as a difficult client, only relationships that don't work.
Thanks Steve, excellent article! I forwarded it to about 20 people. I also clicked on the link to raintoday.com, which looks like a valuable resource too.
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