Darren Slaughter: “How do you avoid evening appointments? You friggin get out of the business”

Darren slaughter

In this video, consultant Darren Slaughter takes the stand that if you are working at business-to-consumer construction, you should forget bankers’ hours (at least the old-style bankers’ hours — some bank branches these days are open on Sundays.) His perspective: Homeowners are available for appointments during the evening and weekend, so you should be able to go and see them when they want to see you.

However, at least a couple of commenters to his video have a different perspective.

One wrote:

I think you are wrong??I have not gone an evening appointment in years.

Do I do early am and late afternoon meetings yep??as you say people work. But the worst appointments are evenings and weekends. The homeowner is distracted at best and wasting our time at worst.

And another said:

I agree with Rob? I will only meet with a client in the evening to sign a contract, and even then, I find that most people nowadays are happy to ?work at home? and meet during business hours. These same people find time to go to the doctor during THEIR business hours, they usually can find time to meet for an hour for an important project. The people that can?t meet during the day usually do not have enough invested in the project to follow through on it when it comes time to write a check.

Quite honestly, contractors put themselves in shitty situations by their own doing. Free estimates and being at people?s beckoned call is done by NO OTHER profession. Just make a policy and stick to it like a normal business!

So, is Darren right? I could be glib and say: “We don’t generally do evening appointments”?but of course the publishing business is a business-to-business enterprise (though I’m writing this posting at 12:05 a.m., a few hours before embarking on a seven hour drive to Barrie, ON, to meet clients and gather information for our annual publication there — that’s more than an “evening appointment” — it’s an overnight two-day trip.)

Clearly, there are trade-offs here. On one level, you want a life for yourself and I can think of activities more demoralizing than to travel accross town, to find a disinterested client or maybe one where one spouse is missing (even though you thought you verified both would be there), or some other distractions, and you’ve just drained your cash, time, and gas money, rather than be with your own family. On the other hand, as Darren advocates, if you really want the business, you need to be where the clients need you to be.

My sense here, however, is that there are reasonable strategies to gain control of the situation. Many contractors have design centres and showrooms; one of the largest renovators in our community has set up a computerized communication centre in conjunction with a chain of retail paint/decorating stores.Clients can book appointments during store hours (including evenings and weekends) but they have to make the trip to the store — giving more control over the process to the contractor’s representative — and, in a truly healthy joint venture set-up, maybe that representative is a qualified decorator store employee. Others define policies and qualification thresholds, and so save their evening/weekend visits for clients where there is a real commitment to do business and the client really doesn’t have other options (and in-house visits are essential for the estimating/reviewing process.)

What do you think?

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