Getting and Retaining Tradesmen to Work on your Rental Property
Last week I showed you how to deal with unwanted Artex. This week I’ll discuss strategies for getting and retaining good tradesmen.
I can get an electrician or plumber at very short notice, for several reasons. The first rule for keeping good people coming back is really very simple, but it’s amazing how many people fail to follow it. What is it? PAY ON TIME! Nothing annoys tradespeople more than having to chase their money, so never let them do it. Always pay on the dot unless agreed otherwise. On occasion it might be possible to arrange credit, but this has to be pre-agreed before the work starts. Please note, this does NOT mean pay in advance, which is even worse than paying late. You have just removed the incentive for the tradesman to come back!
The second thing, again very obvious but it’s surprising how many clients fail to do it, is to be respectful. Don’t just tell people when they get things wrong. Tell them when they get things right! They need to know so they know how to get it right next time. Also, most people enjoy being thanked, so it gives them an incentive to keep trying. And if they enjoy working for you they are more likely to come back.
The third thing is to create decent working conditions. This means dry, not unduly cold or dark, having a laborour to tidy up if necessary, and little things like enough tea cups, milk sugar and tea. It’s easy to overlook the importance of little things like this. Once I had three scaffolders arrive on site, and with everyone else present we didn’t have enough cups. Also one of them drank coffee, not tea. So I went off to buy more mugs and coffee. Scaffolders are a breed apart and not used to random acts of kindness. They were so appreciative I got an extra hoist and ladders FOC and the scaffold exactly as I wanted it. Vanessa Warwick wrote an excellent blog about this sort of thing on propertytribes. Even roughty-tufty builder boys aren’t immune to this.
Fourthly recommend good people on. If they see you as a potential source of other work, they will want to invest in keeping you happy.
Lastly, when you have good team, keep using them. Admittedly there is a danger that people get complacent if they think they are guaranteed your work forever. I have an advantage with my background that I know roughly what most things should cost, so if I suspect anyone is overcharging I’ll get another couple of quotes in just to be sure. Even if someone else is a bit cheaper, if there wasn’t much difference I’d still go with the people I know and trust rather than someone who was an unknown quantity.
I’ll discuss problem roofs next week, in particular flat roofs, which as many a landlord has found to his/ her cost, are prone to leaks.