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Contractor Concerns

I am having a problem with one of my contractors. I probably should fire the guy, but I really want him to do this job.

No, this isnt a hypothetical about our industrys lack of business aptitude. Its a real-life situation involving my struggle to have a new fence installed around my backyard.

As a refresher, my family and I recently relocated from New York City to my home state of Indiana, where we became first-time homeowners. The experience has been relatively smooth so far, but now theres this minor blip regarding my delinquent fence contractor.

Just like how many of your clients have found you, I tracked down my contractor from his referral base in my neighborhoodactually from the little signs that seemed to adorn every fence in my subdivision.

In my 20-year-old development, permission is required from the homeowners association for any major changes to a property. After photos are submitted and neighbors are notified of your intentions, then you can finally begin work. In the midst of this process, the fencing contractor sent a salesman to measure out the size of the fence, discuss options, and quote a price. After another agency marked underground utilities with paint and little red flags, and property lines were staked off by a surveyor, the fence contractor returned to my home to determine exactly where posts should be dug and gates should be located. Thats when the first hiccup occurred.

Because my property boundaries are inundated with underground utilities, posts for the split rail fence (with wire mesh) would need to be dug mostly by hand. That unfortunately, as it turned out, would require the services of one, and only one, technician out of six teams that the fencing contractor deploys to the field. And because I had to wait for this one guy, I waited and I waited.

And I continue to wait as I write this column. Why havent I fired the guy? I suppose, because although the fence will simplify my life a bit more (by keeping the dog from wandering off; ditto my 21-month daughter), its something that I can live without; Its not like my air conditioner stopped working or my cable TV conked out.

More than anything, the fence project is something that I simply want to check off my to do list. And because the fence is actually a very generous gift from my mom and stepdad, I have been more patient than I would be, had it been my own money. Plus, no money has exchanged hands yet anyway.

Most of all, however, the company has done great work in my neighborhood in the past, and I really want to work with them. I met directly with the owner of the company four weeks ago to discuss my challenging installation. He explained that although it was a tough job, hed seen much worse in his 20 years in the field.

He was very reassuring that day, convincing me that his best guy could handle the job. Ive talked to him once a week ever since, and were always the next job after the big project just ahead of us. I cant help but to think that my fence would be done by now if the owner was still doing the installations himself.