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Getting Started With The Rich Contractor

Welcome to the Rich Contractor, the ultimate business resource for contractors, service professionals, and those who dream of some day dumping their dead-end job in exchange for the wild world of small business ownership.  Consider yourself lucky, because you’ve just found the playbook that I wish had been available to me when I was getting started.


Around the time of my 30th birthday I decided that it was time to rock the boat, so to speak.  My day job was sucking the life out of me, and the idea of breaking free and starting my own business was the only thing that got me through each workday.  Finally, after years of dreaming about it, I got off my butt and did it.  I started my own home services business.  But it wasn’t a walk in the park.  I was tackling an industry in which I had little experience, and I was clueless about how to get started and how to run the operation.  Searching the internet for answers, I realized that there wasn’t much in the way of helpful information on the web for people like me.  I also noticed that many of the other contractors in my city were just as “lost” as I was when it came to running and marketing a business.


Well, I forged ahead with my new business anyway.  I learned a lot during those first few years and devoted myself to consistent improvement whether it came to marketing, customer service skills, or simply running a more streamlined operation.  As time went on my tenacity and willingness to learn began to pay dividends, and I eventually became one of the most highly-regarded professionals in my chosen niche worldwide.

But it still nagged at me that so many of my new-found friends and peers in the contracting industry were having a difficult time with their business.  I realized that many of them were still as lost as they had been years earlier, and would always struggle financially unless they learned a new way.  I knew that it was time for somebody to step up and develop an online resource that was truly helpful and comprehensive, and since I had some basic web publishing knowledge and the work ethic to see it through I decided that person would be me.


So I started RichContractor.com towards the end of 2007, my primary goal being to educate, inspire, and empower other contractors and would-be contractors who were eager to succeed but lacked basic business know-how, just as I did years before.  The rest, as they say, is history.  It’s now one of the most authoritative sites in the world on the subject of starting and running a successful contracting or home improvement business.  So how can it help you?

Well, let me point you toward a few different entry doors:

Door #1:  If you want to become a professional contractor but haven’t started yet, first read my epic post about how to become a contractor.

Door #2:  If you’ve already started your business and need help with marketing or getting new business, I would suggest you begin by reading my posts about starting a blog, getting free construction leads, and choosing construction business cards.

Door #3:  Other popular points of entry include my rant about how to make a lot of money and my comprehensive introduction to nailing contractor leads.

Then just keep working your way through the site.  There’s a mountain of information available to you here, so you’d be wise to bookmark the site for later reference.  Well, that’s all for now, folks.  Now go grab a cup of coffee and start reading…it’s time to turn that dream of entrepreneurship into a reality!


This is a guest contribution from Randal DeHart of FastEasyAccounting.com.

I have been involved with construction beginning in the mid 1960’s as a kid working in the family construction company through the present time.

Over the decades I have gathered and documented a comprehensive list of terms that describe construction. Some of them are meant to bring a smile to your face, some are serious and the rest I hope are simply entertaining.

This Article Contains Definitions That Begin With The Letter “A”

80/20 Rule 80% of a contractor’s wealth and well-being comes from 20% of their clients and their daily activities.

24 Hour Bookkeeper also known as a scanner connected to our paperless server; sits in your office quietly, no watering, no feeding, always ready to perform 24-7, never wastes company time surfing the web or chatting or texting on their cell phone.

Apprentice Communication is what happens when apprentices point at something while making deep noises from their chest sound like important messages from their brain all in a feeble attempt to hide the fact they know nothing at all, about anything.

Aggravation Box is a desktop, notebook or tablet computer with construction accounting software operated by a trainee with no clue about accounting let alone construction accounting.

Auction the sad and yet inevitable end of a promising construction company where the upper management and/or owner spent time working in the business, focusing on the wrong stuff and relying on bad financial and job costing reports due to incompetent bookkeeping.

Auditor is the person who goes in after the war is lost, the contractor is bankrupt and bayonets any hope of recovery.

Assets of Construction Company are as follows: Cash, Receivables, Trucks, Tools, Equipment and Material.

Assets of Construction Firm are cash, Business Process, Sales Process, Client List and Predictable Cash Flow. (There is a lot of information if you understand the differences between a company and a firm.)

Please feel free to share them with anyone and especially contractors who need a bit of humor and homespun wisdom and perhaps they will find value.

About The Author:

Randal DeHartRandal DeHart, PMP, QPA The Construction Accountant. Randal DeHart, PMP, QPA is the co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood Washington and Fast Easy Accounting. He is the leading expert in outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services for small construction companies across the USA. He is experienced as a Contractor, Project Management Professional, Construction Accountant, Intuit ProAdvisor, QuickBooks For Contractors Expert and Xero Accounting Specialist and Bill.Com Certified Guru. Visit http://www.fasteasyaccounting.com/ to learn more. Follow Randal on Google+


Sometimes, even my wife and I get duped into hiring a contractor who turns out to be less than professional.  It happened to us just a few weeks ago.  There was a very large, dead, pine tree in our front yard that needed to be cut down.  Every tree service in town had either left a business card on the door or tracked me down in the yard with a spur-of-the-moment estimate.  For whatever reason I kept putting it off.

I guess my wife was tired of the procrastination.  She went ahead and just hired somebody one day while I was away doing my thing for somebody else.  I think she was mildly impressed by his hustle and persistence as he had been working the whole street all day.  By the third time he came around to bang on our door his price had dropped by a hundred bucks and she jumped at a deal.  The next thing I knew I was getting a text message: “the tree is coming down”.

Trash From The Tree "Pro"

They asked for “flavored” refreshments and then left the solo cups all over the yard.

The service was performed without major problems, but then the weirdness began.  First there was a somewhat intimidating request for refreshments from the owner.  What’s more, her offer of ice water wasn’t good enough for his crew.  They needed something with “flavor”.  Reluctantly, she whipped up some lemonade and brought it to them in the yard.  Mind you, she was home alone with two toddlers in the house who were going bonkers throughout.

Then, when they had finished up, the owner went to the door to ask not only for payment but also for a tip.  A TIP!  Servers should expect to be tipped.  Taxi drivers should expect to be tipped.  CONTRACTORS SHOULD NOT EXPECT TO BE TIPPED.  If you do a knock-out job on a project and the homeowner wants to throw you a few extra bones then wonderful.  But, it shouldn’t be expected.  And you certainly shouldn’t ask for one!  So unprofessional.  When I arrived that evening I found my front yard to be in disarray, and their red solo cups strewn all over the yard like trash.

All Hustle And No Class Will Make Tree Guy A Poor Boy

On some level I have to respect the hustle and the drive of this guy.  He wasn’t sitting and waiting for the phone to ring.  He was working my neighborhood like his life depended on it: banging on doors, running all over giving estimates, and just generally harassing the hell out of people until they agreed to hire him.  He had no fear, which can be a helpful instinct for service providers who want to be successful.

BUT…hustle and audacity have to be balanced by class and professionalism.  Just to break this lesson down:

  1. Don’t ask for refreshments.  It’s not that hard to fill a cooler with ice and gatorade every morning before you leave home.
  2. Don’t ask for a tip.  It makes you look like an amateurish tool and it’s just kind of rude and weird.  If somebody wants to offer you an unsolicited tip then great, but I think you’ll find that this is a rare occurrence.  It’s better to just price your jobs appropriately in the beginning.  Don’t low-ball and then hope to make up for it with a big tip at the end because this just isn’t going to happen.
  3. Clean up after yourself.  When you are done and gone it should look like YOU WERE NEVER THERE.  The homeowner doesn’t want to see ant-covered solo cups all over the flipping yard after you’re gone.

At the end of the day, tree guy performed his service and he got some money out of my pocket.  But I will never hire him again.  It’s a shame…I have a few more trees that are starting to go and will need removal in the next year or two.  It’s thousands of dollars worth of work.  Had he been more of a pro I likely would have brought him back.  But, I don’t let people make a fool of me more than once.


The Amazon Home Services Gold Rush Is On

Amazon recently announced that they were getting into the home services link-up game, and I must confess that initially I was skeptical.  Just because they’re the biggest conduit for physical products in the history of the world doesn’t necessarily mean that they know jack about efficiently bringing together homeowners and service providers.  Or so I thought.

Upon further inspection of the service and how it is being incorporated into their site, I have a completely different opinion.  I now believe that this will be a total game-changer for many companies, especially handyman and installation services.  Though the service is brand-spanking new and only available in some areas, with time Amazon users will become more and more accustomed to using it, and eventually it will become a massive stream of income for organized and quality-driven pros all over the country.

Ride The Wave Or Get Left Behind

Amazon is the internet monster that just won’t quit.  In 2014 there were over 270 million active accounts around the world, and this number seems destined to climb over half a billion within the next five years.  The company is a complete beast, just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade.  In short, a platform like that gets you access to a ridiculous number of people.

And these are the kinds of people that you should want access to, just so we’re clear.  A great majority of Amazon shoppers are people who place a great value on their time and quality products.  They are less concerned about finding the absolute best deal.  This is the kind of customer that every home service provider should be salivating over.  These aren’t the types who are going to haggle with you on price.  They just want it done quickly and done right.  If they have to pay a premium for these conveniences then they are usually fine doing so.  Can you say “ca-ching?”

The way that Amazon is integrating this service into their product listings is actually very smart.  Consider this random listing I found for a ceiling fan:

RC-amazonhomeservices (Copy)

See the text in that red circle?  This is where Amazon is giving you, the local handyman, instant access to their prized customers.  This is very valuable real estate, and it’s my belief that the first ones to rush in and grab it will be rewarded handsomely as time goes on.  Reviews will accumulate quickly from your customers, and you could quickly build a lead that will be difficult for others to overcome in the future.  Get in now and treat these customers like gold.  Reviews are everything on Amazon.  By the time your local competitors have awoken from their slumber and realized the potential, you’ll already be miles ahead.

The real value for you is in the long-run.  Consider that many of these customers will likely hire you again and again in the future for everything from installing shelving to fixing a leaky faucet.

Apply here for Amazon Home Services.  DO IT NOW and thank me later.


I see a lot of bone-headed marketing “tactics” by contractors in my city, but what I just found on my driveway was so exceptionally ridiculous that I just had to share it.  So, I’m walking out to check the mail and notice that there’s something near the end of my drive.  As I get closer I can begin to see that it is some sort of folded up marketing flyer in a clear plastic baggie.  I bend over and pick it up.  It is surprisingly weighty.  Flipping the baggie over I see that it contains not only a bright green flyer but also five or six rocks.

IMG_1326 (Copy)

Nothing says professionalism like a baggie full of rocks in the driveway.

Now, I’ve actually heard of this “technique” before, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it implemented in the real world.  Probably because it usually doesn’t make it past the “oh wait, this is a really dumb idea, Bob” stage.  I won’t name the company involved with this piece of ingenuity, and I’m sure they think they’re being really clever, but this is a perfect example of how not to distribute your company literature.

I know what these guys are thinking: “We’ll save loads of time by simply driving down every street in this town and chucking our rock-filled bags out the window as we go along.”  It’s no doubt true that such an approach will cover more ground in any given time frame versus someone walking door-to-door, and the sheer number of homes one could reach in a single day is probably astonishing.  But I have to think that the conversion rate is so insanely low that it renders the entire strategy POINTLESS.

If nothing else, it probably just ticks people off: “These jerks just threw a sack of rocks on my driveway…what the f#%@!”  It’s just rude and annoying.  It’s not going to win any business.  And it wreaks of desperation and amateurism.  The amount of time they spent at home filling thousands of bags with rock and stapling them shut could have been used to do something that actually works, like starting a blog.  But I guess that would make too much sense.


Today I dropped my car off at the shop that I’ve been using for several years.  I’ve spent many thousands of dollars there, and had every intention of spending tens of thousands more over the remainder of my lifetime.  But today was different.  Today they probably lost me forever.

Chuck Was Worth His Weight In Gold

The problem is that the manager whom I always liked and trusted (Chuck) and who pretty much ran the entire show up front now seems to have been replaced or has moved on.  He’s gone.  Poof.  Adios.  Where he’s gone to I have no idea but his replacement is, well…he’s not Chuck.  I had complete trust in Chuck, not only because he knew everything there was to know about cars, and not only because he demonstrated respect and kindness, but also because he never tried to gouge me.  Dude was a straight-shooter.

Steve Is A Value Suck

His replacement, Steve, immediately made less than a stellar impression.  Actually, I should say that he wasn’t awful.  He just wasn’t Chuck.  He wasn’t especially friendly or helpful.  He didn’t really give a crap who I was or what my history was with the shop.  And he was a little shifty with the pricing of the work that needed to be done (it started much higher than I expected and then oddly began to slide down the scale as I expressed surprise and asked more questions).  Something in my gut just doesn’t trust him.  In short, it was similar to past experiences I’ve had with other shops.  Which is to say that my favorite car doc is now just….nothing special.  There’s no reason for me to keep driving across town to get there.

Sadly, this lifetime customer is a lifetime customer no more.

Your Competitive Advantage Could Amount To Just One Or Two Key People

Why Chuck is gone I don’t know.  Perhaps he just moved away or wanted to do his own thing.  Or maybe they just didn’t want to pay him what he was worth.  If that’s the case, then what a terrible decision.  It’s a decision that will shift my allegiance (and dollars) to someone else going forward, and I can only imagine that many other longtime customers feel the same way.

The cumulative losses over time could likely be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for this business.  It boggles the mind.  Save a penny on payroll…lose thousands from the top line.

How much is YOUR superstar employee really worth?  Probably more than you think.