Written by | Field Service

It feels bad enough to lose a job to the competition. It feels twice as bad to lose it to…nobody.

Or rather, to Mr. Smith there, who saw your estimate and is now just sure he can handle all the electrical work himself.

Although he’s a graphic designer.

Who works 70-hour weeks.

And has never picked up anything more brutish than a pair of tweezers in his life.

Yeah, good luck with that, Mr. Smith.

Instead of resenting the hapless Mr. Smith (who will doubtless soon be living an unimaginable nightmare that will be made ten times worse by the knowledge that it is all his own fault), move past the hostility and into the profitability.


Follow these tips.

Make sure you don’t leave Mr. Smith’s house without giving him your card, accompanied by a friendly, “If you run into any problems, give me a call and I’m sure we can sort you out.” This does not mean you will do it for free, of course, and he knows this.

Some people are comfortable walking people through instructions via the phone (and invoicing for it) but most simply make it clear they’re coming out to fix things, and this is a much better stance to take. Not only does it avoid “BUT WHY WOULD I PAY YOU TO TALK TO ME ON THE PHONE????” conversations, but it means your insurance covers you and your work, whereas the phone walk-through situation is not so secure. You don’t want to get sued by someone who can’t tell the difference between the red wire and the black wire while listening to instructions and chewing gum.

Even if Mr. Smith never calls you, he will carry with him for the rest of his days the nightmares that rewiring his gazebo/carport/sunroom/ecovillage gave him, and when tempted to repeat the experiment may think fondly of “that nice man I should have hired.” This pays off in guilt referrals, where Smith’s buddy talks about doing some rewiring of his own, for the pool house/granny flat/stable block and Smith recommends you as “a great guy who is very helpful.”

Then, of course, there is Mr. Smith’s significant other, who is herself significantly likely to call you a few months down the road when her guy has been struggling with what looks like electrical macrame for weeks and the dungeon/folly/portecochère is no closer to being electrified. She’s had enough, and she wants it done! You can sometimes pick up a handy bonus here if you quote by the project WITH time bonuses, and finish in X days instead of X+n days. This goes double if her husband is out of town and she wants it done before he comes back.

In short, look at DIYers, particularly unskilled ones, as potential annuities, not time wasters.

Last Updated By: Rochelle Sanchirico


Last modified: January 16, 2018

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