Make Sure You Are Not Being Someones Muppet

Muppets have been in the news lately and not always in a funny,  happy way. While the new Muppet movie DVD will be released the 20th of March, I am referring to Greg Smith’s article in the New York Times “Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs”

“To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money,”  … “Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets.””

There has been a lot of reaction. Bloomberg editors really had a fit. I liked the way Gerry McGovern paraphrased the Bloomberg remarks…

Bloomberg editors think he is a total idiot, an uber-muppet.  If Goldman were to start behaving like Smith advises then according to Bloomberg, the Goldman bankers would be “spending their days delivering fresh flowers to elderly shut-ins and providing shelters for abandoned cats.”

Putting the customers’ interests first is, according to Bloomberg, the equivalent of doing “charity work.” And anyway, as the Bloomberg smart guys in the room point out, “Goldman’s clients are mostly very well-off.” So, according to Bloomberg, if you’re well-off you a kind of deserve to be taken for a ride.

So what is my point here? Make sure you watch out for yourself because the majority of contractors are watching out for themselves.

How do you watch out for yourself?

Well, you find contractors who will not treat you like a muppet- who want your business in the future and care about your experience with them because they want your referrals later.

How do you find such contractors?

That is easier said than done. Who do you really trust? Find out who they trust in the service you need. Talk to contractors and listen to what they say. If you listen carefully, they most often will let slip what their main interest is.  Remember what is said and learn a lesson. Too many people have to have a bad experience before they become wary.

Find your experts before you have an emergency.

As I write this- March 2012- the Texas weather is just the right temp. Not to hot. Not to cold. There are a lot of Air Conditioning Contractors waiting for hot weather so air conditioners fail and Texans need help now. This then, is the right time to be thinking about your air conditioner. Is it ready for the hot spell? How long has it been since it had service? When was the next suggested service?  Have you been appraised of a situation with your air conditioner? Has someone suggested you need a new one?

This is the right time to take your time and make a more thoughtful decision. When the air conditioner is not needed to be able to make some smart decisions without the time pressure. The AC guy would be happy, probably give you a bigger price break. Air Conditioning Contractors like to be able to work longer seasons and keep their best people busy. It is good for you. It is good for your AC company.  Maybe you want to talk to some other AC companies. When you are not desperate for cool or heat- you have the luxury of time.

Don’t Get Hung Up on Price.

Services are not commodities. Contractors are not so many boxes of cereal. There are huge differences in attitude, in expertise and in long term outlook. You need to understand enough about what you need, to be able to discern between fundamentally sound repairs and a patch job which will be more expensive later. We talk about the problem with paying too much attention to price here.

For so long, contractors have been able to take advantage of homeowners. In the era of green homes and saving energy, and sustainability- in the age of inspection of homes  before being sold-  and the wider spread of  thermography for diagnosing problems with homes- you need solid repairs to your home, or you will get stuck for solid repairs when you go to sell. Don’t get caught in the transition to better built homes. It will cost you money and aggravation.

Use this website- use other websites to better understand what is going on and what kinds of repairs and improvements you need. The information is out there. Use it to get what you want- what makes sense for you- what is good for the customer.

Don’t be a muppet. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts below. What would you like to add to the conversation?


Stu Langley

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