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Tips for working with a contractor

Over the past few weeks we have put in A LOT of physical work on our new pharmacy.  New floors, new signage, reworking shelving, a new soda fountain, and filling up dumpsters full of trash and old knickknacks that have collected in the space over the years.   For a lot of this stuff we […]

Over the past few weeks we have put in A LOT of physical work on our new pharmacy.  New floors, new signage, reworking shelving, a new soda fountain, and filling up dumpsters full of trash and old knickknacks that have collected in the space over the years.   For a lot of this stuff we have been subbing out to contractors in the specific trades to get this stuff done.  If you have some work you need done on your store here are some tips we have found for dealing with people in the trades.

The first thing you need to decide what is most important to you when doing the actual work.  Is it getting the work done professionally, dealing with one person through the process, cost, financing?  If you know what is number one on your list it will help you pick the right shop to do the job.

If warranties and professionalism are on the top of your list I would just google the type of job you are looking to have done and type in your city afterwards (i.e. painting portland) and get quotes from the three companies on the top of the list.  One of the companies is likely a professional sales shop that will come in high and bases there business on high pressure 80’s and 90’s sales tactics, obviously don’t choose that one, but settle in on one of the lower two bids.  These bigger “non pressure close” shops usually offer the best warranties on the job, and also have the added perk of letting you pay by card if you want so you can get some frequent flyer miles.

If dealing with one person is most important to you, look at the second page of google search and find the right fit.  This type of contractor also relies heavily on referral work, so ask around to other pharmacist.  If you are getting custom work done often time the person who you will be dealing with is a master craftsman and does his own work or has only one crew, and this is the way to go.  On these guys I wouldn’t haggle on price to much, as they take a lot of pride in there work, and haggling on price is seen as a sign of disrespect on the service they provide.  They may not have spent 8 years in college, but they have spent 8 years mastering a craft, and are elite at it and have a genius in crafting and practical engineering that is every bit as valid as class room learning.

If cost is your primary concern your best bet is to get some guys to moonlight on your project.  It takes a little more leg work on your part, but find a job site where guys are working for a larger shop on the job.  Ask to speak to the foreman, and usually he can swing by afterwork, take a look at the project, and set it up to be done on a weekend.  On these guys you can do a little more haggling, and if you offer to pay with cash you can usually get a 5% discount.  One problem is that you might have your place under construction for 2-3 weeks, but in the end you save some money for the inconvenience.

Some people try to save a little money by acting as G.C. and grabbing materials for the contractor and then just paying the workers as hourly labor.  I really don’t recommend it.  If you really want to be involved in the project you can do this, but look at the value of your time, and if it is really worth it, plus if you are short on material are you really going to be able to leave the pharmacy, and spend two hours of your time getting the stuff the guys need to finish in the middle of the day?  These guys know the ins and outs of getting the job done, so let them pick up the materials they need to finish the job.

Most contractors ask for a deposit up front and that is fine, materials on a contracting job usually run between 30% and 50%.  Also pay the crew when they are done rather than making them wait till the 1st or 15th.  As someone who used to be in the industry you don’t get paid on about 10% of the work you do and it is a pain and adds stress, so don’t make the guys go through that.   Contracting is one of the last industries where it is still more common to pay by check rather than card. If want to pay via credit card to get your frequent flier miles, go with a large shop, as they have merchant processing worked into there financials.  If going with a smaller shop and paying by card let them know up front.  They may add 2%-3% to the bill, so don’t wait till after the job is done and have it be a point of contention.   Financing is available for contracting work but usually you are paying a lot for the ability to finance.  By a lot I mean an extra 25% over the job if the company is subbing out the fiancing to a third party.  Ya it is a low monthly payment, and they try to make it sexy by saying its only an extra $400 a month and you can just pay when you pay your monthly mortgage/rent check, but if you cost it out you will find it is way more expensive than just paying up front.

Good luck on any upcoming projects you have coming up this summer!  If your doing a whole store remodel you can click here to check out a blog we have on laying out the space.

Also if you to check out some more of our content, click below to check out an awesome ebook we have on three problems facing community pharmacist today.

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