Do you stress about increasing sales while the available opportunities are shrinking and the competition is increasing? Most companies try to work harder in tough times. But the best they can do is hope to stay even doing if they continue to do the same things they’ve always done. The truly successful contractors and suppliers do things different than their competitors to get ahead. They go the extra mile. They do more than their competition. They provide more than the minimum per plans and specifications they are contracted to perform. They do more to get more! This gives them a competitive edge and gets them more signed contracts.

I know you don’t get paid to do the little things that make a big difference in your customers minds. The world is competitive and you don’t have enough time or money to give away anything extra. I recently bought a new luxury car.  I bought the car for the lowest price I could find after shopping several dealers and pricing them over the internet. When I was ready to buy, I went into the local dealer and made a fair deal. But then they treated me like a king. They delivered the car to my house, had all the papers ready to sign, and the whole process only took a few minutes. When we had a few minor repair issues, they came and picked up the car at my house and delivered it back fully fixed, washed and gassed. No charge. The salesman then sent us a gift card to a local steakhouse as a thank-you. Wow! They went the extra mile.

41 Extra Things I Want

As a contractor, it would be nice to get treated like a king once in a while. I realize there a few subcontractors who think all general contractors do what ever they can to take advantage of them. Some contractors get accused of shopping bids, not paying promptly, mismanaging jobs, and hurting rather than helping subcontractors. When presented with this case, I ask them why they continue to work under such poor circumstances and why don’t they seek better customers to work for? There are a percentage of contractors who don’t do what’s right. I prefer to not be associated with them.

And there are a few subcontractors who we do business with who know how to treat their customers like kings. What can you do to improve your customer relationships and treat your customers better? Here is a list of things to consider:

  1. Be a friendly team player versus an enemy
  2. Provide competitive, fair, and consistent pricing
  3. On-time, accurate, and complete bids and proposals
  4. Educate my estimator about the options available
  5. On-time delivery of supplies and materials
  6. On-time submittals and shop drawings
  7. Know the business of contracting
  8. Be professional, look sharp, and act first class
  9. Return your phone calls and emails within 30 minutes
  10. Have a regular time you can be reached every day
  11. Use e-mail for every day correspondence
  12. Use digital cameras to send photos of job issues
  13. Do your own project clean-up every day
  14. Know construction contracts and do what they say
  15. Be well funded and have adequate working capital
  16. Charge the right price on change orders
  17. Always include proper backup on invoices
  18. Visit jobsites before you are called to start work
  19. Stay ahead of job schedules
  20. Never create down time for other’s crews
  21. Don’t bid jobs you can’t handle
  22. Never delay jobs with lack of manpower
  23. Do your own punch-list before we do it for you
  24. Provide responsible decision-making English speaking foreman
  25. Have a professional ongoing safety program
  26. Don’t over-bill and front-end load invoices
  27. Have the same salesperson / estimator who is friendly, positive, in our office every week, quick, knowledgeable, not a pest, and anticipates our needs
  28. Be someone who helps us sell  
  29. Bring us lots of leads
  30. Pick up plans and return them timely
  31. Suggest other subcontractors and suppliers
  32. Recommend architects, engineers, bankers, real estate agents, insurance and bonding agents
  33. Keep us stocked with up to date product literature and samples
  34. Take us golfing or to lunch with potential customers
  35. Provide subscriptions to industry trade publications
  36. Invite us to industry association meetings  
  37. Have a great website with product information, technical materials, engineering data, and up to date industry standards
  38. Invest in our development projects
  39. Bring us joint venture and equity partners
  40. Tell us what we can do to improve & make a profit
  41. Give me great front row ‘Laker tickets! (Joking)

Providing the minimum at the lowest cost will continue to get you marginal low-profit work. But to get the results you really want, you’ve got to do more. Consider implementing a few of these pro-active ideas and get more than the minimum from you customers.


George Hedley is the best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” available at his online bookstore. As an entrepreneur, popular speaker and business coach, he helps business owners build profitable companies. E-mail: to request your free copy of “Business Tools To Boost Your Bottom-Line!” or sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter. To hire George, attend his “Profit-Builder Circle” boot camp or be a part of an ongoing “Executive Roundtable Peer Group” call 800-851-8553 or visit