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Staying Away from Them

by David Lupberger


Question: How do I get away from working with difficult and demanding homeowners? They're driving me crazy!

Answer: The homeowner from hell. We all know them. We've all had them. If you've been in this business for any amount of time, you know they can be a very painful part of your business. They can:

  • Cost you money
  • Take a great deal of your time
  • Cause you a great deal of frustration
  • Take all the fun out of your business

  • I give seminars on managing emotional homeowners. Inevitably, a frustrated project manager or fed up lead carpenter will tell me about a homeowner who is constantly interrupting the people on the job; who is on the phone to him or her several times a day; whose demands are affecting the morale of the entire company and who seems intent on ruining his or her life.

    A Familiar Question
    They all ask me the same question - how do I manage the homeowner from hell? The answer - the best way to manage the homeowner from hell is not to get involved with one to begin with.

    During seminars, I ask remodelers; when you did a job for a homeowner from hell, when did you know you had a homeowner that was going to be difficult to manage? Here is what I've discovered again and again.

    Almost 95 percent of the time, the remodeler knows by the end of the first meeting that the homeowner will be demanding and difficult. By the end of the second meeting all 100% of the people in the seminar room agree they know when they have a difficult client.

    "I Can Manage This"
    Why do we take the jobs? In many cases we need the money or we have a break in our schedule, and we rationalize to ourselves that it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Or, if we're really feeling good about ourselves, we say, "I can manage this. I've worked with homeowners more difficult than this."

    It's not until six months later when we're laying in bed at two in the morning, wondering how a two-month job could still be unfinished after six months, and worrying how we're ever going to get out of this job, that we seriously regret having even talked to the homeowner to begin with.

    Laying out your construction procedures on paper in advance is very important. Your clients need to understand them and agree on them at the outset. If your clients don't want to follow your procedures, if they don't like the way you do business, if they question every move you want to make, you want to know it earlier and not later.

    Just as there are some bad contractors, there are also some bad clients. If your prospects are not thrilled by you laying out your procedures, showing them how you do business, then you need to make a decision. If they are going to be so emotional, so distrusting that they want to control the process even after you reviewed this, then maybe these are the problem clients you don't want or need to have.

    Not Feeling Right
    These people let us know who they are. There is nothing specific that they do, but with the remodelers I talk to, everyone agrees - something doesn't feel right. We don't ask all of the questions we need to ask to find out why we are so uncomfortable.

    To stay away from exceedingly problematic projects, keep a key point in mind - pay attention to what you're feeling. When you get these mixed feelings, or something seems unsettling, deal with it then! You are the remodeling expert. There are certain procedures you follow to ensure every job runs smoothly and your clients need to agree with them.

    It's not that you can't work with difficult and demanding homeowners. But, if you choose to work together, then acknowledge the extra time and energy these homeowners will require, and be paid for that time and energy. Some homeowners don't want to acknowledge that they may be difficult. You can't please everyone. Sometimes, the best job is the one you don't get!

    Reprinted with the permission of Qualified Remodeler

    To contact David Lupberger directly, call him at (301)570-9756. You may also send your comments and/or questions to David at his personal email..

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