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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The profit of smaller jobs

Michael Stone's Markup and Profit blog relates two entries which touch close to home (literally).

The posting: Are you throwing away small jobs?, questions why contractors ignore or fail to serve the small projects they are invited to complete. Correlating with that posting is this additional observation, Connections -- finding a contractor where Stone relates the problems many people have in just getting someone to return their call.

Ask my wife about this matter, and you'll receive a handful of frustrating observations, and what makes this worse, is that I have 'connections'. After all, I publish construction trade newspapers and have been in this business close to two decades. So when she asked for assistance in finding someone to handle a small masonry job around the house, I went to one of the best known renovation contractors and the local commercial brick dealer -- both of whom I have good relationships with -- and asked for referrals. (I didn't expect them to be able to do the work required, but had confidence they could provide names of qualified contractors.)

We received five names from the two referring sources -- and Vivian called all of them. One of them showed up, but has yet to produce a quote.

Sure, the job is small, but we aren't trying to be cheapskates here; we are quite willing to allow for markup to allow for time and inconvenience -- and if we don't have more work that needs to be done, I certainly can spread the word and help their businesses (without pushing them to advertise or anything like that).

It's a puzzling dilemma that we see all around us. Contractors crying there isn't enough work; and consumers complaining they can't find anyone to do the job. Why is this happening?

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