Why contractors should utilize property management companies and historical societies to generate work.

Up to this point we have discussed several sources of work for those choosing to get into the plaster repair/restoration field. Two articles dealt with insurance work, one covered real estate and last month we looked at working with contractors. I thought we’d look at property management groups next and then complete the series with an article about working with homeowners. Then we can get back to your letters and questions that have been stacking up for awhile now.

I’m sorry we can’t cover more here, but there’s only so much space in these pages so here’s a suggestion: If you go to the home page at www.wconline.com, you will find an area marked “bulletin board.” Put “Question for Plaster Man” in the subject space and I’ll try to answer the questions there.

As I have mentioned to you before, having the skills to do plastering is only half the picture. Marketing those skills comes into play in a big way when it comes to the matter of making money at it. Several very talented individuals have written to me and expressed their frustrations in not making what they know they should be making (and deserve to be making, I might add) at what they do.

Others have gotten to the point in their careers where they want to cut back and simplify, which includes letting the crew go and working by themselves, or a husband and wife team handling the entire business. The field of plaster repair is outstanding for both a large crew and a one- or two-person operation. What matters most is not so much the size of the crew, but being able to find sources of work that will bring a steady stream of income over the entire course of the year.

Property management company

In most towns and cities you will find one or more property management companies. One of their key jobs is to make sure that the properties they oversee are well maintained.

I recently did repairs for two different properties. The first one was a home owned by an individual who lived in Colorado. He was in the process of getting his business transferred out there, but had not yet listed his home for sale. Since he was gone for extended lengths of time, he needed someone to look after the home and someone to manage it. This is where the PMC came into the picture. For a fee, it made sure the home was taken care of and maintained properly. As it turned out, while he was out of town a storm came and did extensive damage to the home. The PMC took care of everything, including hiring me and making sure I was promptly paid.

The same PMC has oversight over the maintenance of a group of rental properties owned by another individual. He lives in Florida and basically left the responsibility of keeping these properties up to this PMC. When work on the plaster needed to be done, the PMC called on me to do the work and payment again was handled quickly through this company.

I think that if you have not been working closely with one or more PMCs, you had better look at this one a little closer. What I am trying to state very clearly here is that it’s nice and great to give out business cards to people we meet. However, one visit to the main PMC office with a card for the person running the office and its head maintenance supervisor will prove much more effective.

An introduction could be as simple as this: “Hi, I wanted to stop by and give you my card. I do plaster repair in the area, and should you ever need my services, please don’t hesitate to call me.” You might even add that you were offering a special discount on the first repair you did for them. It might be half price, doing two areas for the price of one or something along that line. Everybody likes a deal!

And since we’re on the subject, make it a good and easy deal to understand. I constantly see people running ads that say, “10 percent off.” Off what? A pumped-up, inflated price? It’s hard to understand percentages: Make it dollars and cents. People will follow this better. So make them a deal right off the bat. This establishes a good feeling at the start and gets you in the door, because they know you are interested—not in making a quick buck—but in a long-term relationship. Offer to look at any repairs they might need done right away. Most of these PMCs have a list of things that need to be done, and by your stopping in and offering to help them out, you have just taken a few headaches off their mind. And keep this point in mind as well: Your job is more than just doing a repair. You are actually in the promotion business: the promotion and safeguarder of their fine reputation.

As a worker under PMC’s supervision, you are on its team. You are representing it the entire time you are on the project. This includes how you treat the tenants of the rental properties you are working on and how you actually do the work. You always want the PMC to look good. Your actions can have an effect on its reputation two ways: the good or the bad. Be determined to help it have a golden reputation and the financial rewards will be a natural result.

Be prepared

When I personally go to establish a new contact, I make sure I am ready to do repairs that day. I have everything on board to do several types of repairs, from complicated to routine. This impresses them that you didn’t just drop in on a whim. You were ready, willing and eager to help them right from the get go. You are prepared to razzle-dazzle them with your expertise and rock-solid quality and style. You know that in your own mind you are probably the only one in the field going this extra step, actively and aggressively cultivating new territory and streams of income for yourself.

PMCs are looking for people they can count on, just as we discussed in previous articles. Never underestimate the power of being there on time. Open and ongoing communication is necessary for the life of the relationship with each PMC. At times, you will be working directly with the head honcho, the main person over the entire office. At other times, you will be dealing with the right-hand man.

Most offices have a maintenance supervisor. This is usually the person who will bring you to the job and show you what needs to be done. It is very important to get on the same common ground as this person, whoever he is. “Thank you” letters or cards go a long way, and remembering his name so you can send one directly to him for the work he set up for you is very important. Everyone likes it when you remember his or her name.

One PMC sent about $10,000 worth of work my way in a single year. That’s nothing to sneeze at. The main thing you must balance out is whether or not you can handle the work each one is sending you. I mentioned in a past article that I found it easier right now to work through a general contractor. This is someone who calls up and sends me directly to do repair jobs, rather than me going all over the countryside looking at jobs every evening and weekend with my wife sending me snapshots of my three girls as they grow up back home! I emphasize that I want to assist you in making your life easier, less complicated, and your work time much more profitable.

Again, thank you for your letters of encouragement. Just received a very nice letter from Chris in New Jersey. I try my best to answer each and every letter that comes in. Until next time, keep your momentum!