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Fencepost
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor
dj1 wrote:

In our state a sub contractor has to have his name, phone and license number posted on his vehicle.

The only reason I can imagine for this rule is so that when the inspector drives by, he'll know if the customer is having work done without a permit.

But if you ask why, they'll say it's for consumer protection. That's right, by having your name, phone number, and license on the side of your vehicle, the consumer can be assured that they won't get ripped off. :rolleyes:

Mastercarpentry
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor
A. Spruce wrote:

Your vehicle speaks VOLUMES about who and what you are as a person and a worker.

There are exceptions to the rules and good reasons for them. I know because I am that exception :cool: "Growler"was a sad-looking old beast; dented, dirty, blown muffler etc. But it was cheap which let me keep my prices low and my profits high and until the end it always got the job done. And it has nothing to do with one's work other than getting them and their tools to the job and back. My customers will tell you of my stellar work because it's not the vehicle as much as who and what is in it. Same with my painting- I look a mess at the end of the day but my work and the house I'm working on will be impeccable. My focus isn't on keeping me or my vehicle clean- it's about doing the work as best it can be done. I run rings around a lot of better-looking painters and guys with nice trucks. They need that help to stay in business but I don't.

At the end of the day or the end of the job all that matters is what you left behind you. Nothing else matters as much to me as that. You want to buy me a new van every few years? I'll take it but to me it's a waste of money and I also hate needless waste. Spruce, you'd fire me on the spot the first day but if you were out for that day, you'd give me a raise on the second day just to be sure I stayed around. Appearances can be deceiving!

Phil

A. Spruce
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor
Mastercarpentry wrote:

There are exceptions to the rules and good reasons for them.

As long as ol' Growler didn't have "free candy" scrawled on the side . . . :p

This is where common sense and gut feelings come in. While your vehicle is a huge indicator of what kind of work you do, ultimately, you have to get past your interview. The thing is, I deal with a lot of high end clients, you pull up in a rattle trap and they start getting jumpy. You look like a homeless guy and I get called in to babysit, literally, no joke. You don't need to have a shiny new truck, but you do need to have a professional presence, your vehicle is a part of that, and like it or not, it impacts your business.

If it makes you feel any better, my carpet guy's van was a huge mess, it was seriously clapped out, and he wasn't much to look at either, most of the time. The thing is, he was always professional and did high level work. He did things for me that he wouldn't do for others, namely, vacuum the darned carpet when he was done with an install. It is my feeling that a house should look "move in ready" when it's done. Did I expect it to be perfect, no, but it should not look like a carpet factory exploded in the living room. It would be like the painter leaving drips everywhere or the carpenters leaving piles of sawdust throughout the house.

Which brings me to another thing, cleanliness, it is demanded from all who enter one of my jobs. Some mess while working is to be expected, but at the end of the day, and particularly the end of the job, your work area had better be cleaned and swept up. And . . . wash your darned truck once in a while! ;):p:cool::cool:

dj1
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Phil and Spruce,

You both come from different backgrounds, live in different places, have different clientele who have different expectations.

For some customers a neat van is a symbol of quality work (may or may not be true). Others "don't judge a book by its cover" and rely on references and past jobs to form an opinion.

Immediately after graduating university, I got a real estate license. In California, such a license has to be attached to a broker's license to be active. So, on day one, my new broker said: DJ, you need a luxury car if you want to be successful, not the chalupa you came in with. He added: potential buyers judge you by your looks, the way you talk, clothes you wear and the car you drive.

I disagree, but I know it's true in places like Beverly Hills and not true in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The same logic applies to the vans or trucks we drive.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

I've shot myself in the foot a few times with my attitudes toward my vehicles, but not once have I disappointed when given a chance. Look inside my van, see the quality tools on the tightly-fitted custom shelves designed around those tools and you'll quickly see that I can think and that I'm organized better than most. If you're in the biz you'll also note that the most-used things are right where you can easily access them without having to crawl inside. And you may even note that the weight of everything is in keeping the van balanced. There's a depth of thought going on that exceeds the norm but you won't see that from the outside and that's how I want it.

Much agreed on making sure the work equals the workplace. In unoccupied fine homes broom clean daily is the norm, with Friday's cleanup being whatever is needed beyond that. In tract houses you don't get the "Friday" clean. In occupied homes cleanliness of the work-site comes first even if you have to spend an hour cleaning after every ten minutes work. While I won't promise perfection I will promise that very little cleaning will be needed when I'm done, and nothing beyond what normal housecleaning would entail. I'm not an expert cleaner but if needed I'll hire one or you can do that. Just remember that nobody gets what they don't pay for so if you want my rock-bottom price you get my rock-bottom service; better than almost anyone else but not the best it could be. Pay for a premium job and you'll get it, including cleaning. And among folks around here I'm known for my level of clean. That is hard to get new guys on track with since they're not used to it, but it's what they're paid for and soon enough they see why it pays off.

Old "Growler" was quite presentable at the start, but time is not kind to work vehicles which actually get heavily used. My 'new' van looks great; old but in near-perfect condition. How it will look ten years from now is anyone's guess. To me it's a tool and as long as it does that job well that is all I need from it. You don't expect the site graders to show up with a nice shiny new dump truck do you? If you do you'll be seeing a lot of disappointment. And their old worn dump truck does the job equally well which you know to be true. So why is my vehicle any different? As long as it's presentable that's enough- if you want more then you pay for that, not me. I'm more than happy to drive the vehicle you provide instead of mine.

Judge me by what I leave behind and you'll see that there's a lot more to the deal than first impressions, and that the impression you'll have of me at the end will be what you remember most. I love having folks brag on me :cool:

Phil

dj1
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

These days there are new waves of work vans in different sizes. Anybody has experience with the following small vans:

- Nissan NV200, also sold under Chevrolet City Express.
- Ford Transit Connect
- Ram Pro Master City Cargo van
- Mercedes Benz Metris (smaller than the Sprinter)

I'm sure other makers are sitting on the fence, ready to jump in if there is strong demand. Toyota, Diahatsu and others have them running around all over the world.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

The Ford Transit isn't new, only new to the US. It has a long history in Europe where it is renowned for it's general durability and reliability. The older ones were under-powered though, even by European standards. I've spoken with 2 people who have the big Nissan's and they like them a lot but they are still too new to know about in the long run.

Not a van but the Honda Ridgeline does not meet the classic definition of a pick-up truck as it has a lightweight unibody car-type construction with no separate frame like the rest have. I wouldn't choose it to haul a heavy load or for towing.

I can't see a place for small mini-vans regards the General Contractor, though they might be useful for lighter specialty trades. This new generation of these was meant to work, not to haul Mom and the kids around town, so they may find a better niche in our line of work.

Phil

A. Spruce
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor
Mastercarpentry wrote:

I can't see a place for small mini-vans regards the General Contractor, though they might be useful for lighter specialty trades. This new generation of these was meant to work, not to haul Mom and the kids around town, so they may find a better niche in our line of work.

I feel the same way about guys who buy a short bed truck and across the bed toolbox. There's no way they can really haul materials or tools efficiently in one of those things.

As for the new "mini" vans, you're right, they're not big enough for serious work, however, as a specialized vehicle they would be great. If I were still in the biz I would consider having one for service/handyman work and leave the big green beast at the shop. I had a healthy mix of both GC work and service/handy work, so the full blown rig wasn't always needed. The mini vans are cute, professional, and economical to run.

And, before you start busting my chops with the "cute" comment, most of my clients were women. I used to jokingly say that I was bi-lingual, I speak tradesman and housewife, that is to say, I have the ability to translate the technical jargon of what we do into layman's terms for all to understand, and do it in a way that isn't condescending, threatening, or off-putting. This is also where my comments on personal appearance and vehicle come in, the redneck and homeless/ghetto serial killer look tend to put people off. :p

ordjen
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor

Here is a pic on one of my past vans. All subsequent vans were painted and signed exactly the same:
http://i791photobucket.com/

Fencepost
Re: Best work vehicle for the hands on General Contractor
ordjen wrote:

Here is a pic on one of my past vans. All subsequent vans were painted and signed exactly the same:
http://i791photobucket.com/

Broken linky. Unless all of your vans have "Server not found" painted on the side.

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