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The Contractor's Friendly Associate

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  • The Contractor's Friendly Associate

    First of all I have to say I might regret posting this thread because a few feathers may be ruffled. But as a former owner of a roofing business and now the owner of The CFA (formerly known as I am out there everyday in Ohio selling and promoting The Contractors Friendly Associate. Sales in Ohio are great. The one thing I hear the most from contractors is how can they avoid being taken advantage of and intimidated by homeowners. Now that’s a tough question. I have pondered this for many years. In the most basic of terms, the answer is simple: the contractor lets them. Let’s break this down. You, the contractor, work for the homeowner. And we all know that the homeowner is your saving grace because the homeowner is in control of your livelihood, and in turn, your quality of life. We have all been there, homeowner wants you to do a little extra work. You have become friendly with the homeowner, formed a good working relationship, the whole nine yards. And you’re the nice guy and in most cases will do it. You may not really have the time available in your schedule, and in some cases the extra work isn’t even in the area of your expertise, but you do it.

    Now for the really big question: WHY do you do it? Simple, we’ve all been programmed to believe that the customer is always right. And how do we receive that programming? INTIMIDATION. Homeowners have known for over 80 years that the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General’s office and services like Angie’s List are more than happy to not only listen to their complaints (justified or not) but also ready to make those complaints available as a matter of public record. In the case of the BBB and Angie’s List, no real investigation is ever conducted, the job site is never inspected. But the complaints are still reported and available to anyone with a telephone or internet connection. Have you ever contacted any of these agencies to request a list of homeowners with open complaints by contractors? Don’t waste your time. It doesn’t exist. Contractors are reported regularly, but no one has been reporting unscrupulous homeowners. All of these agencies cater to the consumer. All have appointed themselves the Watchdogs of business. But who is watching them? After a great deal of investigation, I have been unable to locate any agency that is actively following these reporting practices. This is really something you should all consider. Joining the BBB doesn’t protect you from unjust complaints, but you do receive a wooden plaque and window decals in exchange for your yearly membership fee.

    Next item for consideration: homeowners that will find any reason not to pay. What recourse do you have? In the state of Ohio, for $ 35.00 you can file a lien against the property. Of course, you have to miss a day’s work (and pay) sitting in a courtroom, then you have to wait for the property owner to die or sell the property. In many cases, Mechanic’s Liens are missed and properties pass through escrow or probate without any funds being distributed against the lien.

    You can hire an attorney and sue. Very costly and rarely effective. The courts rarely rule in favor of contractors and any settlement a contractor receives is then turned over to the attorney. Again, not much of a solution.

    So, what is the solution? Answer: there is no simple solution, but there is a simple starting point. We need to put homeowners in check, the way they have been putting us in check for decades. And how do we do this? CHANGE. We need to be willing to stand up and be heard. We need to report homeowners, good and bad. This is the purpose of The Contractor’s Friendly Associate. Through our postcard program, we’re letting homeowners know that there is finally someone out there watching them. Not just difficult homeowners, but excellent homeowners as well.

    How does the postcard program work? All members of the CFA receive a supply of rating postcards. Upon the completion of a job, the homeowner is rated on a scale of excellent to very poor. The postcard is then mailed to the homeowner to let them know that not only have they been rated, but that the rating will be reported on the CFA website, including any balance due. Excellent homeowners enjoy receiving their postcards. Very poor homeowners do not. Typically, homeowners with very poor ratings that still owe the member will pay their balance due within 3 days. If they pay, it is at the discretion of the member to upgrade the rating, or let it stand.

    Is this legal? Absolutely. According to the FTC, the only restrictions are that financial institutions and children cannot be rated. All reporting is done anonymously and only members have access to the homeowner database. The member database is available only to the site administrator.

    Now we not only have a means to collect outstanding balances, but members have the ability to pre-screen their customers. Prior to signing a contract with a homeowner, members can search the database for the homeowner’s previous ratings. I’ve received a lot of feedback from current members that find it’s a real asset to know in advance if a customer has a history of difficult behavior, slow pay, or no pay. Having this information may not change your decision on whether to work with this homeowner, but it will affect the manner in which you conduct your business with the homeowner.

    We have spoken with current members that notify homeowners in advance that they are members of the CFA, and explain in detail what it means to the homeowner. These homeowners rarely, if ever, receive poor ratings. Apparently the system is working.

    In summary, homeowners have pre-screened contractors for years. Contractors have never had this advantage, until now. We’re not trying to cause harm to homeowners, they are our employers. In fact, over 90% of the CFA homeowner database have excellent ratings. We feel that these homeowners deserve recognition as well. All we want to do is make business a fair practice for both sides. It’s a new concept, and some may even consider it radical. Change is always accomplished through radical moves and measures. It requires an open mind and a sincere desire to improve upon the unfair practices of the past.

    Thanks for your patience in reading this mini-series. Watch for the conclusion in paperback.

  • #2
    Re: The Contractor's Friendly Associate

    Great plan Mar!
    wouldn't it be great if we could also do this for other professions also like doc's, lawyers and insurance parasites


    • #3
      90 day free memberships are avialable

      For those of you that want to test it. I am offering a free 90 day membership. Just contact me.


      • #4
        Re: The Contractor's Friendly Associate

        "The purpose of The JLC-Online Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions."
        I'm not passing judgement on your business just letting you know the rules on advertising here


        • #5
          Re: The Contractor's Friendly Associate

          Seems like you should use an eBay model where both sides of the transaction have an opportuntity to post a rating.