Blank

BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


August 13, 2002

Small Business Service? Who's Kidding Whom?

Mike Kuster

Have you tried to find a contractor lately? I believe in small businesses and am trying to support those men and women. I make an effort to shop at my local hardware store before going to Lowe's or Wal-Mart.

My search for contractors to do work around the house has left me completely disillusioned in the small businesses of Frederick County. As a small businessman myself, I am completely dumbfounded by the overwhelming lack of professionalism on the part of individuals and businesses in Frederick County.

As readers may remember, my wife and I moved to a 19th century home in Walkersville this year. The house needs some work, which lead me to make inquiries to local contractors.

The first order of business was air conditioning the house. With twins on the way, I knew the summer months would be intolerable. I spoke with three contractors for estimates. The first estimate arrived three weeks after the walk-through! The second arrived one month after that contractors inspection and only after I called and asked for it. The third never arrived. Needless to say, the first man got the contract.

Second on my list was some masonry work on my front steps and three chimneys. One of my clients is the Professional Masonry Association, a great organization that promotes masonry and pays their bills on time. They gave me a list of contractors who do residential work. After calling and leaving messages on five contractors machines (I never spoke to a person when calling), one man returned my call. He even made an appointment and kept the appointment to give me an estimate. Our conversation and tour of my projects went great. He even indicated he could do some other work for me. Upon his departure, I decided he'd get the job even if he gave a higher price. Unfortunately, he has never sent an estimate and never returned any of my subsequent phone calls.

Last on the list (and tops for my wife) was the remodeling of our kitchen. I called people advertising in the newspaper, in the phone book, and men recommended by friends. I probably made an even dozen phone calls. Not one person who spent money on an ad in the paper and phone book returned any of my calls! One of those individuals runs an ad in the paper everyday! Why bother?

I finally called a man doing work for a friend who was recommended by my sixth grade shop teacher. He was the only man to return my call and come to the house! He will be remodeling my kitchen.

Granted, people are busy. Also, I am probably not the most loved person in this county (some people really take politics too seriously). So, I can understand a few people not returning my calls. The numbers, however, suggest a larger problem.

In my business, I work with people with diverse political views. It never interferes with my business. We all get along wonderfully. I've never lost a customer due to my politics. There is little room for politics in business. It can destroy your business. Perhaps some of my fellow small business owners feel otherwise.

Business people need only worry about money. I'm not talking a few thousand dollars of work. This year, I'll spend tens of thousands of dollars on work on my house. These businesses that fail to return phone calls, fail to follow through on job estimates, or never show-up, lost a lot of money.

This is why giant stores and corporations replace Mom-and-Pop operations. It has nothing to do with the people preferring bigger stores. It has everything to do with competitive business practices. Wal-Mart, and the such, force their employees to be customer-service oriented. Too many people experience what I have with small businesses and Wal-Marts flourish.

I just hope my local hardware store and market never close!



Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

Advertisers here do not necessarily agree or disagree with the opinions expressed by the individual columnist appearing on The Tentacle.


Each Article contained on this website is COPYRIGHTED by The Octopussm LLC. All rights reserved. No Part of this website and/or its contents may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means - graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and retrieval systems, without the expressed written permission of The Tentaclesm, and the individual authors. Pages may be printed for personal use, but may not be reproduced in any publication - electronic or printed - without the express written permission of The Tentaclesm; and the individual authors.

Site Developed & Hosted by The JaBITCo Group, Inc. For questions on site navigation or links please contact Webmaster.

The JaBITCo Group, Inc. is not responsible for any written articles or letters on this site.