Rule #8 – We charge to “look.”
I was talking to a person riding with me one day as I was out working, and a call came in asking me to come “look” at a unit and give them a price for repairing it so that they could take it to a loan closing at the sale of the house. I told them our charge to “look” was a set fee. That we did not “look” for free and we needed to be paid before we left.
I realized at that moment that I had a set of rules that I use to guide my business. I had just never thought of them that way. Nor had I ever numbered them.
Rules to guide you through life are not uncommon. Everyone needs a code or set of rules to live by or conduct their business with.
An example of a rule of conduct: John Wayne in the movie, The Shootist, said, “I’ll not be laid a hand on.”
The Boy Scout oath is another example.
A very simple partial set of rules for life might include:
- Going to bed and rising at the same time every day
- Being kind to everyone I meet
- Working from a to-do list as much as possible
- Walking away from arguments whether in person or on-line as much as possible
George Washington had his Rules of Civility that he carried in his pocket as a young man, and we all know how well that turned out for him. Here are few excerpts from the book:
- # 6. Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
- # 11. Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
- # 19. Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
- # 51. Wear not your cloths, foul, ripped or dusty but see they be brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any uncleanness.
- # 56. Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad company.
- # 90. Being set at meat scratch not, neither spit, cough or blow your nose except when there’s a necessity for it.
On the TV show NCIS, the main character has his own list of rules too. The ones I like the best are:
- Never say you’re sorry. It is a sign of weakness.
- Never go anywhere without a knife.
- Never, ever involve a lawyer.
- Sometimes you’re wrong.
The more I thought about this list of rules I ran my business by, I realized I had several. Others I talked to said they had learned the same lessons. But there was no where I knew of where a young person could find them listed. So I began to record and number them as they came up.
Rule #9 We charge for every trip. (As much as possible)
Example: A customer called last week. His house had been struck by lightening and had knocked out the electronics on his unit. He wanted me to come look at it and write up an estimate for the repairs. I tried politely telling him we had a trip charge for that, and he would say, “Just write it up for the insurance, and we will turn it in.” I finally had to explain bluntly that he would need to pay me the day I came. Then we could write up the rest and turn that in. He agreed. It works much better to tell people up front what you expect.
Now when the parts come, if it takes multiple trips, we expect payment before we leave each time.
The reason is that after you have “looked,” or written up an estimate or given your advice, they may later decide to throw it away and start over, fix it themselves or whatever. Then you will have a hard time getting paid for anything at a later date.
You see many people look at contractors as low-lifes or fly by night outfits. They think they are doing you a favor by perhaps paying you some money for their job.
I have been told when I was younger to only enter through the back door, the servant’s entrance.
I see my business as a business and run it that way. What they think they see is a man hoping to make enough money to pay his rent and buy food for the week. Now not everyone is like that, but a great many are. The solution is to conduct yourself according to a set of rules (which hopefully comes off with an air of confidence, instead of an air of hoping to make some money). Then also remember that the rules may not always apply. But they do apply 999 times out of 1000!
Rule # 10 We never take a job “hoping” to make some money.
If it is questionable whether the work will turn out to be acceptable, we tell them up front:,”No matter which way it turns out the cost to “try” is $XXX.XX.” We don’t “try” for free either.
They are paying for your expertise, your wisdom, your knowledge, and those things come with a price.
The problem with violating these three rules is that you come off like you’re hoping to make some money. You should never want to give off the attitude that you are taking a job “hoping” to make some money for two reasons:
- Because people know, they can sense the “hoping” and will use it against you. They will tell you when you are done “that it not quite what I hoped for” and will not want to pay. This is why you tell them up front what the cost is for trying and then expect them to pay up when you are done no matter how it turns out.
- Because of what it does inside of you to have to “hope” to make some money. It is a sick feeling that you should never get used to. Stick up for yourself. This is not arrogance, but it is fair. It is not fair of others to use you to see if the problem can be resolved.
Proverbs 14:24 The wise accumulate wisdom; fools get stupider by the day. (The Message)
Accumulating rules that govern life are all part of The Prosperous Life.