Recently I have been receiving bids from a dozen contractors in total

Ivan Seeking

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Recently I have been receiving bids from a dozen contractors in total for some construction work. It is rather interesting to note the distinct personality types and approaches - constructed from my notes.

The corporate salesman: Comes in with slick video presentation; a long check list; many product options; very impressive sales pitch. Tries to sell me the best of the best of everything. This particular gent actually tried to convince me that it was in my interest that he make as much money as possible, from me. Came in with the highest bid - 2.5 times the lowest bid for the same job.

The used-car salesman: Quick talking; evasive answers; won't commit to a hard price. He sees many potential problems and we'll have to play it by ear and see how it goes.

The Buddy: Asks a lot of personal questions and goes out of his way to be friends. He listed many ways that he can "help us out" and get great deals for other work around here. Instead of just sending the bid, he want's to drop by and figure out what works. [Nice guy actually but fairly transparent].

The dismisser: Tells me all about how everyone else does things. Sells by putting down the competition. Leaves a highly negative impression

The good-ole-boy: Conveys an easy confidence and speaks in a matter-of-fact tone - a no frills approach with economy in mind. Been doing this for over 40 years. The lowest bid so far.

The worker: Much like the good-ole-boy but more professional. The second lowest bid so far. All very matter-of-fact and finds ways to save me money. He was the only one who didn't require that we meet. He just took notes by phone, stopped by at his convience, and called me with a bid by the end of that day.

Most fell loosely into one of those categories. It really pays to shop!!!
 
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Alfi

Re: Contractors

talk talk talk

Get it in writing before committing to anything or handing over a single dollar.
 

wolram

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Re: Contractors

Bodge it and Scarper, we do the work twice as quick at half the price.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Contractors

talk talk talk

Get it in writing before committing to anything or handing over a single dollar.
Of course. They all submitted or are submitting written bids... though the one is "open-ended". :rolleyes:
 

Borek

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Re: Contractors

finds ways to save me money
That'll put him high on my list immediately. Not because I want it cheap, that's just a sign of honesty.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Contractors

That'll put him high on my list immediately. Not because I want it cheap, that's just a sign of honesty.
Same here. I may go with him.

Note that I made a minor correction on the used-car salesman.
 

turbo

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Re: Contractors

Good
Fast
Cheap

(pick only two)
 

dlgoff

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"The good-ole-boy" will be there for you when you have problems in the future I think.
 

Averagesupernova

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Re: Contractors

I looked at this thread and picked the last one, which would be 'the worker'. He most resembles someone I know and trust who does this work. Funny thing is, I missed the part about 'finds ways to save me money' that borek mentioned until I reread it. This ALSO matches the contractor I know. He is most likely to be there when something happens in the future. However, in my experience that also means that if it is beyond the fault of the product he installs, is not the fault of his work, or is quite simply YOUR fault, he will also play it this way. If you expect any contractor to 'suck it up' when you have a problem later on you can expect to pre-pay for that.
 

russ_watters

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Re: Contractors

Recently I have been receiving bids from a dozen contractors in total for some construction work. It is rather interesting to note the distinct personality types and approaches...
That is perhaps the most interesting part of my job. And it isn't just contractors - businesspeople, architects, building owners, etc. Most of them fit the common archetypes.
The corporate salesman:
Easy to deal with, easy to dismiss.
The used-car salesman:
By far the most dangerous and the most successful. The people who control the project purse strings in the construction industry go with the lowest bid 90% of the time and this guy has it -- and then he rapes you with extras that weren't included in his bid.
The Buddy:
Transparent, yes, but always good for when you need Flyers and Phillies tickets.
The dismisser: Tells me all about how everyone else does things. Sells by putting down the competition. Leaves a highly negative impression
Easy to dismiss a dismisser...
The good-ole-boy:

The worker:
By far the best of the bunch. But if their price comes in 3% over the used-car-salesman's, the purse-string holders won't give them the job (in my line of work).
 

russ_watters

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Re: Contractors

talk talk talk

Get it in writing before committing to anything or handing over a single dollar.
Ivan said:
Of course. They all submitted or are submitting written bids... though the one is "open-ended".
Right - don't be so dismissive of the importance of understanding the personality types. Just because two bids have the same number at the bottom, that doesn't make them equal. Being able to judge the bidders is far more important than judging the bids (if the prices are close).
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Contractors

That is perhaps the most interesting part of my job. And it isn't just contractors - businesspeople, architects, building owners, etc. Most of them fit the common archetypes.
True. In fact it was rather easy to classify these folks because I am familiar with the pattern from my own field of work.

By far the most dangerous and the most successful. The people who control the project purse strings in the construction industry go with the lowest bid 90% of the time and this guy has it -- and then he rapes you with extras that weren't included in his bid.
Generally, when I am making a bid, this guy and the corporate saleman are the competition. I have learned to go out of my way to discuss the potential extras and how they will be handled. Hopefully this alerts the customer to others who promise something for nothing. There is nothing more frustrating than to lose a good job to someone who I know is a crook.

Transparent, yes, but always good for when you need Flyers and Phillies tickets.
In my own mind, I didn't give this guy enough credit. After I posted this thread he came by with another buddy to look at some of the other stuff we want to do. It seems that he is good for his word. Unfortunately he didn't offer tickets for the Flyers or the Phillies. :biggrin:

His bid landed right in the middle. ...actually, that assumes that I throw out the bid from the corporate salesman. No one even came close to the number that guy gave me.
 
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russ_watters

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Re: Contractors

In my own mind, I didn't give this guy enough credit. After I posted this thread he came by with another buddy to look at some of the other stuff we want to do.
Credit for what, being personable? Is he really that much different than a used-car salesman? I tend to dislike this guy more than the used car salesman because at least the used-car salesman has "watch out: i'm a crook" stamped on his forehead. This guy sucks you in with his personality, so you'll still be smiling as he bends you over the barrel.
 
Re: Contractors

i learned a long time ago that the real money in contracts is change orders. just get the contract, that's the most important part. chances are pretty low that the customer knows exactly what he wants and has spec'd everything perfectly. so you bid low for the overall contract, then make money on overruns and changes.

good luck.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Contractors

Credit for what, being personable? Is he really that much different than a used-car salesman? I tend to dislike this guy more than the used car salesman because at least the used-car salesman has "watch out: i'm a crook" stamped on his forehead. This guy sucks you in with his personality, so you'll still be smiling as he bends you over the barrel.
Without going into too much detail, he was offering a legitamate way for us to get some work done for free - work that we are currently having bid. He was also interested in buying something that I would like to sell [avoiding too much detail here for privacy reasons]. I was really quite surprised to see him show up with the other person. Truthfully, I thought the buddy bit was all smoke and mirrors. But I know exactly what you are saying as I have been burned badly by "buddies" before.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Contractors

i learned a long time ago that the real money in contracts is change orders.
I hate the dog fight of contract work! Over the years I have also learned that municipal projects are the worst!!! I got into one situation where an underground control room for a municipal station collapsed, and the general contractor went bankrupt. A bank then took over the project. It was a ******* nightmare. In order to ensure that I didn't end up in court with everyone else, I worked for over two weeks [including hotel bills and travel] for free. All the money for the project was gone but I couldn't quit without getting sued. Luckily, I have been blessed over the years with a number of customers who pay by the hour. I treat them right and give 150% when it counts the most, and they treat me right.
 

Moonbear

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I don't worry so much about personalities, as long as they are reliable enough to show up to do the work. I'd look at the details in the contract. The "good ole boy" can be just as bad as the "used car salesman" if his ways to save you money mean you're getting lower quality materials and he only quotes prices for the bare minimum of work without considering the possible extras.

You can almost NEVER find this type, but if you ever come across a contractor who will give you estimates broken down as the basic job if nothing else goes wrong, the most common things encountered that could go wrong (i.e., someone who says something like 9 times out of 10 with a house this age, we open up these walls and find..., and if that's the case here, this is how much it would add to the cost), and the extra frills you might want but are optional (i.e., we can save you money by using a less expensive material for this, but there's a more expensive one that will last 10 years longer; it's up to you), then that's the one I'd go with. You know up front what the basic cost is, where you can cut costs and what you might want to pay a little extra for (sometimes it's not worth it depending on how long you plan to use something before changing it again) and what the upper range is if something goes wrong.

In reality, any one of those contractors can encounter something unexpected on the job that will raise the costs beyond the work actually contracted. The hardest part really is getting them all to prepare bids on the SAME work so you can actually directly compare them all. Try to get a cap on labor costs...if they didn't anticipate something they should have, they eat the extra labor, and you just pay for the additional materials for which they have to provide receipts. That also keeps them from lollygagging around on the job when they know they can't milk you for extra labor charges if the project is delayed or when they find something they claim they didn't expect that adds more work to the job.
 

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