Mike Colon

From the Desk of Mike Colon, Blue Collar Black Book Founder

Hey Did Somebody Here Order an XL Large Box of Complaints?

B2ap3 Large 48ee1e8a0a8f50dce4f8cb9ab418e211 XL

They Forgot to Include the XL Box of SOLUTIONS

Does the Construction Industry no Longer Solve Problems?

Talk is cheap.  It's also a totally worthless piece of crap when there is no action behind it.  Everyday we all hear people complaining, but when you put them on the spot they couldn't give you a solution to save their damn life.

I know it can be hard dealing with problems that seem bigger than yourself, but if there is a problem that is impacting your life so much that you have to cry to somebody else and make them listen to it, maybe you should spend some time developing a solution.  I dunno, but maybe I am just old fashioned about such things.

The optimist in me still believes that people are looking for effective solutions and are just looking for someone or something to show them the way.  Well it just so happens I have my compass and map right here, and in a moment I will share with you a set of solutions.

The Construction Industries' Biggest Challenges

  • Declining Trade Wages & Compensation Packages

  • Unskilled Tradesmen & Contractors Running Amok

  • A Critical Shortage of Young Skilled Trade Workers

  • Bad Clients who Cost Contractors both Time and Money

So first thing, ask yourself this question:  Am I just bitching and blowing off steam -or- am I really serious about fixing problems?  If you want to fix problems, well that's friggin' awesome and you're in the right place - Blue Collar Black Book was built exactly for finding solutions.  If you want to just complain and let off some steam, hey that's cool too, I just hope by the end of this article you can be encouraged to start kicking some ass and taking charge of the future.

So, If you're still reading at this point, that's outstanding! You are the highly motivated, involved and determined person we all need who won't tolerate the Construction Trade drifting backwards anymore.

So take heart, you are no longer an individual, you are no longer a cog in the Construction Industry.  No, you are now a member of a TEAM.  We all give and receive information here that we need to help each other succeed.  Just being here gets us all on the same page.

So How about Some EFFECTIVE Solutions?

#1 Solution:  Start Sharing Accurate Trade Wages and Benefits Information

Does anybody really know what they should be making, what they should be charging? We are not talking about a pin point number here we are talking about an acceptable range. The range your shop rate or service rate should be within +or- 10%. Likewise, if you are an employee, what your compensation package should look like. Wages, benefits, vacation, sick time so on and so forth.

Are You even willing to share that type of information? Maybe you are embarrassed because you think you are too low. Maybe you are worried that you are charging too much or that your competition will undercut you. Let's all check our ego's at the door and just be honest so we can get to the place we need to be. If we don't get some honest accurate information and get everybody on the same page, inevitably one thing is for sure, history has proven it to be true, we will undercut or sell ourselves short, right into the poor house.

If we can all be honest and accurate, then we will have at our disposal, the information that helps us make better financial decisions regarding our career our business and our trade. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to wages and compensation. Lets give each other the information to bring them up. In doing so, it will make it harder for our clients to drive down our rates. See how we all benefit?

#2 Solution:  Identify Tradesmen and Contractors who lack Professional Trade Skills

There are very few things that will set off a good contractor like coming in to clean up someone else's craptastic work, ESPECIALLY when it was the person that undercut their price and beat them out of a job. SIDENOTE:   If you think you are ready to be a contractor after serving the bare minimum time to meet the requirements for your license, YOU ARE WRONG! Spend an extra 5 to 10 years developing your craft, gaining experience under someone else.

There is no one to teach you those essential skills once you step out on your own. Save everybody the trouble and frustration. While you are at it, take some business classes at night to get you ready for the Contracting Business BACK ON TRACK .. We need to police ourselves, there are contractors and subs that have no business being in the construction business PERIOD. Almost everyone I know has run across a contractor they felt should be run out of the business. These bad actors cause problems for the rest of us and in my experience they never fix themselves leaving us no alternative but run them out of the business and that's exactly what should happen. Blue Collar Black Book has a feature where you can POST A REVIEW of a client, so other tradesmen and contractors who come after you can know what they might expect from the customer. That same POST A REVIEW feature of Blue Collar Black Book that protects us from clients but can also protect us from our own. There is nothing that says you can't put a bad contractor in there.  Just please be sure it's justified.

#3 Solution:  Avoid the Clients who are a Drain on our Resources

Some clients are AMAZING and we can't wait to see their name come up on caller ID. Other customers we keep in our phone books just so when their name comes up on caller ID we know not to answer the phone.

We should share information about our customers so our brothers and sister know whether or not to “pick up the phone” or “let it go to voice mail”. Now the reality is, when you get a call from an unknown client you have to answer because you don't know any better. HOWEVER as soon as you get off the phone you should search the Blue Collar Black Book database to see if any of our brothers and sisters have had experiences with them.  Like my pop always told me, “Sometimes the job you make the most money on is the job you didn't take”. 

The information you will find in a customer review will arm you with everything you need to make an educated decision on how to best proceed with a client or take steps to protect yourself if they are a risk.

#4 Solution: Actively Recruit and Train NEW Trade Workers

This is a little tougher. Hopefully if we address the issues we already talked about and make the construction industry a more profitable, less risky environment it will attract more young folks to the trades.

There is always the issue, that salty journeyman believe, the new guys coming out of high school are too soft and don't have the work ethic but that needs to be addressed on the job through leadership and mentor ship. Now if they don't shape up, ship them out. There are countless people (some of whom may not be here legally) who are desperate for an opportunity, who will work hard for you.

See what Mike Rowe of TV's Dirty Jobs is doing about Trade Education.

Make Use of Blue Collar Trade Industry Resources

Arguably there is no one stop solution out there.  We all get that.  Here at Blue Collar Black Book, we are trying to be a big part of the overall solution. The question is:  Will you receive the information and put it to good use? Will You contribute information? Are you an effective leader who would help those up around him so he or she may also succeed? Or are you just going to complain your life away? If so that's fine, just stash those boxes of complaints some where else, WE don't need them getting in the way of our boxes of solutions.



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