Cowboy customers in construction
Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
Cowboy customers in construction
Cowboy customers are bad news for small building firms, paying late or not at all often without realising the damage they cause.
The idea of ‘cowboy builders’ is a something most people will have heard of. It vilifies tradesmen, gives the industry a bad name but anyone actually in the small to medium construction sector will tell you that it is unrepresentative of builders and developers as a whole and that cowboy customers are a far more common issue.
What is a cowboy customer?
A cowboy customer in construction is someone that has had building work done and then delays payment and/or disputes the price, either refusing to pay the total price (previously agreed) or denying payment altogether. These monetary set backs are troublesome for SME building firms where cashflow is king.
The difference between cowboy customers and cowboy builders
The key difference between a cowboy customer and a cowboy builder is that a cowboy customer will presume to know the cost of a project (always presuming that it should be cheaper) whereas a good builder will actually know the cost of a project. In the same vein, the customer will not accurately know how long a project should realistically take or any other technical detail -otherwise they should be doing the work themselves!
The annoying thing for builders and developers is that, in the current world we live in, customers are led to believe that they are always right. This is an issue for tradesmen because this sense of entitlement can often impair the builder from being able to come to an agreement with potential clients about the actual cost of a project, the time it will take and other factors relating that can only be understood through sector specialist knowledge.
The DIY expert
This is more often than not the underlying issue of cowboy customers. They have somehow decided that they are knowledgeable enough in construction to be able to work out these details. “I’m quite handy, bit of a DIY expert, and this qualifies me to price up and plan a two story extension”.
In this sense it is hard for tradesmen to convince these DIY legends that the job is priced up accurately, the mark up is competitive and the job will take that bl@@£y long!
EstimatorXpress, the tool for dealing with tools
But, this is where EstimatorXpress can help ease their furrowed little brows, whilst letting them continue believing in their own capabilities. With the ability to show as much or as little detail as you chose, you can demonstrate that all the costings have been accurately calculated using the latest prices updated live in your powerful, construction specific software. Plus, with automatically produced build phase plans, it is easy to show how long work will take and why, even print one out for that overzealous timekeeper.
ContractsXpert, protect the work, protect your business
This sets you on a good path by gaining the trust of the customer and demonstrating that you are not trying to rip them off. Going on from this, you can use ContractsXpert to get all the correct paperwork in place and ensure that you and the client know exactly what work is going to take place, and how much you are going to get paid and when.
Adrian Wild, HBXL founder had this to say:
“People often talk about cowboy builders, but there is a small swathe of cowboy customers. Getting a proper contract in place protects you and ensures you get paid – and if they don’t, you have a remedy – and can take them to court!”
Discussed some changes over a friendly cup of tea? Get it in writing!
Avoid those difficult discussions about payment and changes to work by updating the building contract as work progresses and if you do come across a cowboy customer who is trying to get out of paying by either disputing works, delaying payment or straight up refusing, you’ll have the protection in place to make sure you get paid for the work you’ve done! Not only this, but it is worth running the changes back through EstimatorXpress to calculate how changes will affect the cost of the project as well as the build phase plan and other scheduling criteria.
Cowboy customers can often be unaware of the impact of ‘seemingly small’ changes to the projects cost and completion date. That is why it is useful to be able to demonstrate with EstimatorXpress how much of an impact it will make, hopefully it will make them think twice before suggesting alterations!
Can you afford not to protect your business with a software solution?
You can’t put a price on price on the ability to produce professional, watertight contracts that could save your building firm- we can! ContractsXpert really is a builder’s best friend when it comes to making sure you get paid for the work you’ve done. Written with a leading barrister in construction law, you can rest easy knowing that your business is protected should you come across one of these chancers. Give us a call today to discuss how ContractsXpert and EstimatorXpress can help protect your business- 0117 9167898.