Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

When Subtraction Becomes an Add

This week, I did something every contractor doesn’t like: I turned down two nice soon-to-start projects. It was painful for me, but the right thing to do.

Because of circumstances during the past week, I determined we did not have proper management in place to do a good job for our customer and called the manager of the jobs. At that point, he said something I had never heard. “Sometimes subtraction is an add.” He was okay with my decision, and we delivered the files to assist them with another contractor.

I then took it a step further and traveled out of town to visit with the owner of the company. She was understanding and appreciative of my candor, which reinforced why I respect her and her company. During this visit, we discussed ways to make each other more successful going forward.

The term “partners,” is a buzz word these days, but until one goes through the cycles the relationship, it may not be tested. A hand shake doesn’t make a good partner, nor does a contract or conversation. Solid partnerships are built over time, through ups and downs.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.