PaintSquare.com
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

Advertisement

PaintSquare


PAINTSQUARE BLOG

Comment |

Business Building: Investing in ‘Yes’

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2012

By Robert Ikenberry

I’m often amazed when I watch other contractors interact with owners.

If an owner has a request, points out specification requirements not being met, or raises a safety concern, the automatic reaction seems to be “No.” 

No, we can’t do that without an extra (change order).

No, the specifications don’t require us to do that in this case.

No, that worker isn’t at risk.

Too often, this starts a dialogue that becomes contentious, regardless of whether the original issue had any merit.

When I start any new project, I assume that the last experience the owner had was with a contractor who first said “No.”

Starting with Yes

I work to build trust and cooperation, and I tell them that’s what I’ll do, but I don’t expect the owner to believe that I’m different.

I find two techniques are of some value, even if only as mental exercises:

1. Start with yes. When an owner has a request—even when it’s wrong—I try to start my response with “Yes.”  Hopefully, it’s “Yes, we can certainly do that.”  Sometimes, though, it has to be “Yes, I can see that may be an option. However, we were planning to do this, and here’s why we think it’s better for the project.” Notice, though, that in both cases, the response starts with yes.

If the request is minor, and we can do it, whether it’s really required or not, we just do it.  For most of my jobs, minor is about $5,000.  For smaller contractors, it might be $500 or even $50, but at some point you will find that just saying “yes” and doing what was requested will build much more in goodwill than it costs.  In those cases, just do it.

Gauging Fairness

There’s also this.

2. Do a fairness check. On the owner’s side, when you have a request for something that doesn’t really seem necessary, try this test for fairness. Possibly, it’s clearly an extra; possibly, it’s clearly in the spec but just not needed and the owner is playing power games or “gotcha.”  To help you decide, here’s the “If you had to pay” test:

Maybe the font size on a warning sign is technically too small.  Maybe the film thickness of the paint is too high, but everyone agrees it doesn’t compromise performance.

In those kinds of cases, I ask the owner, “Contract language aside, if you knew you had to pay for this fix, would you do it? Assume for the sake of argument that this is clearly extra, and you are going to be charged every penny for the additional efforts.”

 We Paint It

 We Paint It

If there’s a disagreement over a fix in a project, start by asking the owner “Contract language aside, if you knew you had to pay for this fix, would you do it?”

If the answer is, “Yes, as the owner, I would still do the work and pay for it,” then it is reasonable to proceed and discuss later who has to pay.

However, if the owner wouldn’t pay but still wants the work done, the work probably doesn’t really have to done.  In this case, the client is not being reasonable, and hopefully you can show that this request is just punitive.

The Payoff

I understand that some owners will try to take advantage of contractors, that some general contractors profit (temporarily) by squeezing subs, and that a contractor who isn’t assertive enough to protect his or her position will fail.

I also know that you can’t afford to give away the store and that you sometimes have to fight for what’s due you.

That said, saying “Yes” first usually pays off in the long run.  And making owners consider what’s really fair and necessary—not just “correct” per the spec—helps build mutual respect.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Robert Ikenberry

Robert Ikenberry, PCS, has been in industrial painting and construction since 1975. Now semi-retired as the Safety Director and Project Manager for California Engineering Contractors, Robert stays busy rehabbing, retrofitting and painting bridges. His documentary on the 1927 Carquinez Bridge was the pilot for National Geographic’s Break it Down and an episode of MegaStructures.

SEE ALL CONTENT FROM THIS CONTRIUBTOR

   

Tagged categories: Building operations; Contractors; Contracts; Customers; Facility Managers; General contractors; Industrial Contractors; Painters; Subcontractors

Comment from Anthony Kavouris, (2/17/2015, 11:02 AM)

Great perspective. The direct and indirect players of our industry often times forget that a little does indeed go a long way. Gains in "Payoff" are directly related to safety, environment, quality, confidence, credibility, respect and doing the job right.


Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (2/17/2015, 11:35 PM)

Yes. These are fair comments.


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Advertisements
 
SAFE Systems, Inc.
 
Custom blast rooms
by SAFE Systems
 
Don't waste time and money "making do" with a "standard" design. Let us work with you to design and build the system that best fits your requirements.
Call 1-800-634-7278
 

 
SABRE Autonomous Solutions
 
Quality
 
The ALPHA1 provides a consistent finish day-in
day-out; job to job.
 

 
Safway Services
 
Safeguard Assets. Ensure Productivity. HAKI®
 
Protect assets and equipment. Keep facilities open and operational. Maintain schedules regardless of weather. Ensure smooth and continuous production. Easy to erect. Safway is the primary distributor of HAKI® products including HAKISPAN and HAKITEC® 750 – in North America.
 

 
Strategic Materials Inc.
 
www.truabrasives.com
 
TruAbrasives™, a clean crushed glass abrasive superior to other abrasives for performance, health, and environmental benefits.
 

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.
 
NO FLASH RUST - NO CONTAMINANTS
 
Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rust
preventer prevents flash
rust by removing surface contaminants. Contact us
for your nearest distributor.
(800) 319.8802 sales@holdtight.com
 

 
Abrasives Inc.
 
Discover the MAGIC.
 
Black Magic® coal slag. It’s consistent, cleaner, cuts better, less dust. Get it where you need it, when you need it. Abrasives Inc. info@abrasivesinc.com
 

 
Termarust Technologies
 
Termarust (HR CSA) Chemically Stops
Active Corrosion
 
Arch truss treated with Termarust's (HR CSA) in 2003. This steel arch bridge is rust free on all surfaces including the crevice corroded joints and connections.
 

 
Tarps manufacturing, Inc.
 
QUALITY MADE IN AMERICA —Available near you!
 
CLICK to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Tarps Manufacturing makes the highest-quality tarps right here in the USA — available nationwide.
 

 
Clemco Industries Corp.
 
Maximum Dust Suppression Systems Start at $14,950
 
The system comprises proven technology and equipment with user-friendly flexibility in mind. See it in action.
 

 
W Abrasives
 
New blast suction and recycling system!
 
Phenics systems, made by W Abrasives, is a new way to transform traditional site blasting by enabling recovery and recycling of steel grit.
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us