7 skills of a successful contractor

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There are a few certainties in the trades. Upon entering the trades, my peers instructed me on the three basic principles of trades work: poop flows downward, payday is on Friday and the boss is a jerk. The “boss” is typically the Master Licensed Contractor and the business owner. This person wears many hats and must possess a varied skill set. Below, I highlight the top seven skills of a successful contractor.

  1. Problem Solvers –
    1. Contractors need to be able to put out an insane amount of fires in any given day. They must, not only understand their trade, but convey the customer’s issues to them while the customer is in in a heightened emotional state. It’s like playing with fire.
    2. They must also be able to solve employee issues. A successful contractor maintains a positive and open relationship with their employees. If an employee is in financial distress or needs time off to go to a kid’s game or event, they often appeal to the Contractor with personal (sometimes, VERY personal) issues.
    3. Contractors are also required to address issues within the business itself. They need to possess a keen understanding of business financials (primarily, the Profit and Loss Report and the Balance Sheet), tax responsibilities (state and federal level) and business management (marketing, overhead, etc…).
    4. Personable – It’s not uncommon to see a Contractor filling the role of “spokesperson” for their business in their advertising. This is because most Contractors are incredibly personable. People like them and trust them, therefore they choose to do business with them and feel great about it! Contractors get along with their customers, employees and even tax agencies (if they’re unfortunate enough to be audited).
    5. Honest and Ethical – You can obtain customers by being dishonest and unethical, but you will not keep them for the long term. Being honest may lose the Contractor the occasional job, but they understand the long term value and often maintain their business over generations.
    6. Connected – They know the people who supply their parts, from the stocker to the district manager. They understand that business is built on solid relationships. So, they maintain relationships over a lifetime to create a varied network that contributes to their success.
    7. Risk Takers – Working for yourself can be a risky undertaking. Hiring employees, allowing them to use your company vehicles and expensive equipment can also be risky. Contractors understand the fine balance between sensibility and flexibility. They often consult their managing partners on big changes to prevent careless risks that will adversely affect the company.
    8. Passionate about their Trade – They LOVE their trade. Or they wouldn’t be doing it. Trades work is hard work. Long days and manual labor can be rewarding and exhausting. Only the committed survive and the truly committed thrive.
    9. Strong Communicator – Contractors need to be able to talk to customers, employees and fellow contractors of all shapes, sizes and personality types. They must be exceptional communicators to convey their professionalism and ability in their trade.

If you know a Contractor, you probably recognize a few, if not all of these traits! If you are a Contractor, bet you didn’t realize you were so skilled. 😉

allie hard hatAllie Perez is director of operations, Mr. Plumber / Mr. AC, San Antonio (http://www.mrplumbersa.com). Her interesting viewpoints on the trades can be found on her blog at http://www.mrplumbersa.com/blog. She also is founder of Texas Women in the Trades (TWIT). Visit texaswomenintrades.com. Fortunately, TWIT is off to a strong start. If you have any interest in membership or mentorship, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at allie@mrplumber.com. Also, please like Texas Women in Trades on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/texaswomenintrades.

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