Janet gets Predictable

Janet reached into the fridge before she remembered she ran out of coffee cream the day before. Darn, her coffee was just not the same without it.

She went out onto the deck to drink her coffee and thought about how, even though she felt she was pretty good with change,  there were some things she just liked to have the same all the time. Like her coffee; and her truck starting every time she turned the key, and the building supply place delivering when they said they would, and people paying on time. *Sigh*, yes, people paying on time.

She thought about her bills and how bad she felt when she couldn’t pay on time. She wondered if her homeowners felt the same way. Did they not have the money? Or was it what Mike said, they didn’t know when to pay?

When she got her truck fixed, Andy gave her a bill and expected her to pay it then. And she did. Even when it was hard to do, if she knew what was expected, she did it.

How could she get her customers to pay when the job was done? She could make sure the bill was ready to go when the job was done and give it to them. But, sometimes they weren’t there. She always gives them an estimate. How about, when she gets the estimates printed up she adds a line about when she expects to be paid.

“Susan.” “Janet” They hugged. They had both braved the rain to get to the grocery store early.

“Isn’t it funny. We are both self-employed and we still grocery shop on Saturday’s?”

“Or is just that it’s raining today? Would you normally be roofing today?”
“That’s true. How’s the business coaching biz?”

“When times get tougher people need us more and, yet, they feel they can’t afford us.”

“Are you finding it hard to get paid?”

“No, not at all. Once people have made the decision, they follow the payment schedule. I make it clear that payment is due on the 1st.”

“You don’t give them 30 days to pay?”

“No. I get paid before we start. Don’t you get some money to buy materials before you start a job?”

“Oh, people won’t pay me before we have finished the job. They are wary of construction companies. There are so many terrible stories. They send a cheque after I send them the bill.”

“Are you okay with that?”

“Well, it’s not ideal.”

“Janet, have you ever not finished a job? Do your clients like your work? Have you ever had a complaint?”

“No, yes, well, yes one complaint, but we fixed it pretty quickly and they were happy after that.”

“So you have a reputation for reliability and great work. Do you really think people will balk at giving you a deposit before you begin? It’s also a great way to make sure you will get paid.  The thing is, getting a new roof isn’t something people do every day. There really isn’t a ‘normal’ process for payment. The way it works, is how you say it should.”

“How do I do that? How do you do it?”

“It’s part of the exploratory conversation. We talk about what I can do for them, how much it will cost and when I expect payment.”

“Just like that?”

“How much work do you have on?”

“We are booking next month.”

“Time to raise your rates, too, then.”

“But, who will do the work for the common working families?”

“Honey, it’s not your job to save the world. You need to charge a fair price and that doesn’t mean the cheapest price. That means one that allows you to pay your expenses – all of them- and make a decent profit. Again, roofing isn’t something people do every day, there isn’t a ‘normal’ price for it. The price is said to be highly elastic.”

“I charge enough to pay all my bills.”

“You are saving for your retirement, too, right? You won’t be getting up onto roofs in 20 years.  You need to be building a business that you can sell. Realize, no one wants to buy a job. They want a well-functioning machine. You can’t make that happen if you are only charging just enough to get by.”

“Retirement?”

“You have staff, assets, and you are building a brand. You have a business. There is much more to a roofing business than getting onto the roof and pounding in nails. You have a responsibility to do it right.”

“A real honest business?”

“Let’s have coffee soon. I’ve gotta go now.”

“Thanks Susan.”

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