Despite a tiny advertising budget of less than $2,000 and combating negative perceptions that come with reality shows exposing shady contractor practices, Brampton-based Contracting by Us has managed to set itself apart.
Owner Marcel Mackay‘s company was recently named the area’s best general contractor of 2012, according to Homestars.com, an online community that allows homeowners to rate contractors.
Mackay credits excellent customer service and a genuine concern for every project for the positive reviews of his staff and his business.
“They do it as if they were doing it for themselves,” he told YourMississaugaBiz.com of his employees’ attitude towards their work.
Mackay admits that the industry has suffered from negative media coverage and television shows like Holmes on Homes that expose bad contractors.
In addition to this year’s award, Homestars.com reviewers voted it the Best Basement Renovation Company last year.
Here are some of Mackay’s other tips for other small contractors who want to follow his success:
Educate yourself. Keeping up with industry standards, laws and regulations is important, as well as making sure you’re connected to industry groups online that focus on these topics.
Hire the people who are specialists in their trade. “Every single person that works for me is a master at what they do,” he said, noting the average subcontractor on his staff roster has at least 20 years of experience. “They pride themselves on their jobs.”
Mackay said there’s also a professional sense of camaraderie and like-minded thinking. “Everybody kind of looks after everybody,” he said. “I don’t have the problem of people not showing up for work and timelines are met because of that.”
That kind of respect is reflected in how Mackay’s quickly staff is paid. “I pay them the minute they’re done,” he said. “But it’s not uncommon [in the industry] for a 60- to 90- to 120-day [delay].”
Set a schedule and then stick to it. Mackay sets out a strict, detailed timeline for every project that allows for very little deviation by his staff.
“People are very happy to know, before we even start, who’s going to be in their house, which day and every day, from start to finish.” he said, noting his company’s average time for a project is only three weeks.
Contracting by Us also includes this kind of detailed schedule in a contract upfront.
Go beyond expectations. Mackay makes a regular effort to use products that most other contracting companies would consider upgrades. “This is also a selling feature that gets me a lot of referral business because of the quality of material I use,” he said.
Some of Mackay’s preferences include premium flooring products and underpads, dimmers, large rectangular (12″ x 24″) modern tiles, no pre-fabricated showers and most staircases replaced with custom-stained oak.