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Unread 10-12-2007, 07:40 AM   #1
Trowel Monkey
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Breaking up is hard to do

Had to send this letter out this morning and I was wondering how some of you might have handled such a situation?
Been talking with this client for a long long while and I've done considerable research on his project regarding sound insulation products. It's about 800 square feet total of Versailles pattern brushed marble. Met with him last Friday because he wanted to fill up his electrical circuit with a full 150 square feet of radiant heat, over the 30 square feet in the original bid. I was also finally able to assess the condition of the slab and discovered a 3/4" ridge that runs the entire residence that will need to be ground down with absolutely ***NO!!!!!*** dust. He has since insisted that he be involved in the color selection of the tile (culling "too dark" tiles) and has prohibited me from hiring an extra hand on the job. He's also insisted that I only set up my saw outside on his patio which is 5 feet from Lake Washington in the middle of November!!!!!!!
How do you walk away from $14,000 and not feel like an idiot?

Hello ############,
I've thought about this considerably and I've come to the conclusion that we will both be happier if you accept one of the other proposals you've received. Were we to proceed, I would expect that you would have confidence in both my ability and professionalism but by your set of conditions neither is evident. I sincerely hope that you find a craftsman who will accommodate your needs but I must respectfully bow out of this relationship. I will be happy to discuss the project, over the telephone or through e-mail, and offer my insights to whomever you hire.
Shaughnn Lee-Capua
Capua Custom Tile & Stone
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Unread 10-12-2007, 07:52 AM   #2
Chad Deiter Company
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What does Todd say ? Something about taking jobs that are good for both you ( my words not his ) and the client. I think that you did the right thing if there is issues now it will only get worse . Then you'll play hell trying to get the last check because this is wrong or that is wrong. Nice letter ..
Chad from CDC54.com " You Dream It and We Create It "
Southern California Custom Tile and Stone Installation
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Unread 10-12-2007, 07:59 AM   #3
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Well~said, my friend. I think you took the right decision. It's tough to turn some jobs down, particularly when the money's good....but there are times it is simply wiser to gracefully decline, and this looks like one of them.

"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
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Unread 10-12-2007, 08:00 AM   #4
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Hey Shaughnn,

Mind if I dog-paddle in from the shallow end?

It makes perfect sense to me from an economic perspective. I'm sure there is a price for which you would be willing to accept this job, but it's likely much higher than $14G. Likewise, there may well be another tile setter in circumstances in which he/she deems $14G to be worth the effort.

It's unreasonable to expect that we can come to terms with everybody. It's probably a blessing that we don't.

It's true that we sometimes come to regret the choices we make, but still, no one but our own selves is better prepared to make those judgments, fallible as we are.
Dan - a DIYer in SE Tennessee
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Unread 10-12-2007, 08:33 AM   #5
Chris the Rep
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No need to feel like an idiot, you did what is best for you and your business. That's paramount.

All jobs have terms and conditions. If all parties agree to them, the job proceeds. In this instance, the client has stipulated conditions that you cannot agree to, therefore, you have declined to take the job.

On the other hand, I'm sure that you have had people that decided to go with another contractor because your bid was too high. It boils down to the same situation; they couldn't agree to your terms and conditions.

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Unread 10-12-2007, 09:38 AM   #6
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Nothing at all wrong with that, Shaughnn. I've done it for much bigger projects and did it exactly as you have, including offering to provide advice during the project if there were problems (which we know will be the case in situations like yours, eh?).

And I have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt at least twice in my career that the oft expressed theory that, "the best job you sometimes get is the one you don't take", is both true and accurate.

Ain't nothing stupid about bowing out when it just doesn't feel right.

My opinion; worth price charged.

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Unread 10-12-2007, 09:41 AM   #7
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Shaughnn, please let us know what response you get.
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Unread 10-12-2007, 10:21 AM   #8
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Excellent decision Shaughnn. Someone else is gonna be reeeeealy sorry they took this job. I like your letter.
One avenue you might take in the future when they come up with all those little foibles is to not let them insist on anything that isn't right. Explain how it has to work, be firm, and let them fire you if that's a problem.
For instance on dust: "Grinding will need to be done. It does cause heavy dust. We will hang plastic at x, y, and z, but it is not a perfect barrier. We do leave the floor clean, but you will need to arrange for final cleaning from dust." ... and accept no arguments with a professional but take-it-or-leave-it attitude.
I don't mean you should be unkind or unaccomodating, but you should take charge in the areas you are an expert in.
Tom Hulse
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Unread 10-12-2007, 10:22 AM   #9
Dave Taylor
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You done good, Pirate.

I spects' you won't git' no response.... but if you do.... what Marge said.
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Unread 10-12-2007, 01:36 PM   #10
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What is stupid is taking the job when you sort of know you shouldn't. Of course, I've never done that. Just heard about it.
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Unread 10-12-2007, 03:10 PM   #11
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Well, i can count on one hand the jobs i've turned down, and can't count the ones i did that i hated. But, don't be surprised if he's brash up front then backs down a bit, You might use a trick i use and tell him okay, get the stone delivered a week ahead of time and YOU go through it and leave me the ones you want me to set.As for the saw you could build a tenting, i ALWAYS have to set my saw up outside,BUT it ain't cold here. As far the grinding there are setups at HD that will grind it down with a dust collection vac. This is coming from a guy with hardly any work here to do, though.

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Unread 10-12-2007, 04:38 PM   #12
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In the long run, it seems like the best decision. Go find a good client that respects your knowlege!

CTEF Certified Installer
I lost my hero on 5-21-16 You will be missed. Semper Fi
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Unread 10-12-2007, 05:18 PM   #13
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Always a good idea to listen to the inner Pirate. When you think it is a job you shouldn't take listen.
I use to have a rull for those guys with houses on Lk Washington. If they had a pocket protector. Time to walk.
Good Luck

Santa Seattle

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Unread 10-12-2007, 07:25 PM   #14
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Let us know if the letter gets you off the hook. I'm not so lucky, as I find when I try to talk my way out of a job, they insist that I am the only one they want to do it.

I have literally cursed people out, and sent nasty e-mails to get out of similar situations.

I usually handle this by procrastinating as long as I can, and then finally giving in because they waited so long. Then after a long bumpy road, they are talking about a future job they want me to do.

I can just imagine what experiences they have had with other contractors.
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Unread 10-12-2007, 07:47 PM   #15
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This hits close to home, I just went thru a similar situation. I like your letter, Shaughnn. I think you're doing the right thing.

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