3 Types Of Responses From Contractors: Yes, No, Maybe So
In a perfect world, you’d have a maintenance need and have no trouble at all finding a vendor to take care of the issue for you. Sadly, that world doesn’t exist right now. More and more property owners are contacting us in search of maintenance help because contractors across the country are in high demand and short supply. We’re getting more calls than ever from people who can’t even get someone to show up! So what can you do to help navigate this reality so you can continue to provide the highest value possible for your tenants and to maintain the integrity of your property?
One important piece of the puzzle is understanding the responses you get when you are (actually) able to get a contractor on the phone. With less available labor, higher material costs, kinks in the supply chain, and high demand related to the recent skyrocketing costs of homes, very simple terms like “yes”, “no”, and “maybe” have different definitions than they did just a year and a half ago.
THE YES, YES, YES...YEAH, YEAH, YEAH PERSON:
We all naturally react positively to the word “yes”. It implies success and positive momentum...the feeling that things are going to get done...that you can put a check in that box. But in the current climate, we’re running into more and more “yes men” who are in the pattern of just responding in a way that is going to make you feel good...in the short term. These “yes people” are strategically casting a wide net. They’re trying to get as much business as possible, very often at the expense of quality and reliability.
Think of the demands that are asked of you each day in your own job and with family. To constantly say yes is 100% unsustainable and to do so you’d always be spinning your wheels. As successful people, we learn when to say yes and when to say no...so why would we trust a company that hasn’t learned that key skill? There is no way to be efficient if this is your approach. There is no way to be loyal if a contractor is always telling someone new that they’re at the top of their list. If you feel like you’re getting more yeses than seem realistic and get the feeling this contractor is just telling you what you want to hear, get out of there. It’s not worth your time and aggravation.
THE MAYBE PERSON:
If you call a vendor and they tell you, “maybe we can fit you in” what they’re really saying is, “we won’t be able to service you but we’re afraid of being direct and telling you that”. Translation: “maybe” = “no”.
If you’re a parent, you know this already but probably haven’t made the connection to the business world. If you say “no”, your kid throws a fit. If you say “maybe”, the crying is averted for the time being. You avoid the emotion by avoiding an answer. Sadly, some businesses operate the same way parents do when dealing with a 5 year old: insulting and unprofessional.
If they do give you a “maybe”, the best immediate step is to ask them to explain what that means (“why maybe”?). Investing in property is a business and you can’t afford to be waiting on a maybe. Challenge the vendor by asking clarifying questions to get them to either “yes” or “no”. DO NOT SETTLE for their inability to own a decision...the waiting game that inevitably ends in inaction will cost you both time and money.
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OUR FAVORITE → THE NO PERSON:
There’s something to be said about honesty, especially when times are tough for businesses. For that reason, we love the “no person”. “I’m sorry but we can’t do that for you”...translation: “We have systems, integrity, and loyalty to the clients we’ve already committed to so saying yes to you at this time would be a disservice for all parties and we’re better than that”.
We respect and appreciate the “no person”. When they tell us no, we say thanks for being direct and we put them at the top of our list of companies to call back next time around. If we can establish a relationship with them when they’re not as busy, we know we’ve picked up a strong partner for our real estate needs. They’re 100% getting a call back at some point because we appreciate the way they operate and can tell they’re the kind of business we want to work with and want to recommend to those in our circle.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SYSTEMS:
To pull back to 30,000 feet, this all comes down to staying focused on the long term and not giving in to short term needs in a way that pulls you from your values as a successful real estate investor. To maximize your profits you’ve created systems (i.e. a successful bookkeeping procedure) that allow you to be consistent and efficient. You MUST DEMAND the same from those you choose to partner with, even if the business climate makes it more difficult. Hiring a sloppy vendor might make life easier in the short term because you think it’s the quickest way of placing a band-aid on a maintenance need, but the damage this could do to your reputation with tenants could be much more costly. Create your own boundaries by avoiding working with contractors who don’t have boundaries of their own. Don’t settle for the appeasement of low-quality contractors who haven’t taken the time to build systems because you never know what you’re going to get.
IN SUMMARY: A CONFIDENT YES IS IDEAL...BUT “NO” IS UNDERRATED
In a perfect world, you’d do a little research, decide which vendor to call, and they’d schedule with you and you’d be good to go. If that opportunity does arise, absolutely take advantage ( we don’t want anyone saying “no” to a solid offer). But more often than not, shorthanded companies are being less direct and property owners are left holding the phone wondering who they can trust. If you get the feel that someone is feeding you lip service, look elsewhere. Do the extra work to find an honest contractor. Even if they can’t fit you in, they could have some recommendations (if you ask). They might also be able to indicate when they think they’ll be more flexible which will help you best calculate your next move as you reach out to other potential vendors. You obviously have work that needs to get done so you can’t wait forever, but you can gather as much info as possible to help you make the best decision...rather than the easiest decision (like just saying “yeah, yeah, yeah” or “maybe”).
Learn more about how to navigate the ever-changing property investment and property management world by contacting Nexus Property Management® for more information. With four locations in New England, our team is eager to meet your needs and help redefine the real estate landscape.
At Nexus, we pride ourselves on our ability to add value and improve the lives of tenants, owners, and our employees alike. Be sure to reach out if you’d like to be part of our team or are interested in franchise opportunities throughout the U.S.
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Mick Lefort is the Vice President of Operations for Nexus Property Management®. A National Property Management Franchise that manages all types of rental property from single family homes or condos to large apartment buildings and complexes.
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