The "Black Eye" of the Construction Industry

Jun 22, 2023

               Over the past few decades, the public perception of construction has gone downhill. Unfortunately, the public perceives construction professionals as dumb, lazy and greedy. This has caused a huge shift in the work force for future generations. In my opinion, a good chunk of the construction industry creates this perception themselves. More & more kids are being pushed to go to college for a “white collar” job without even mentioning alternative options.

How do I know this?

I was the kid being pushed to go to college.

Here are a a few reasons why I believe why the construction space has created this perception.

                The first is that the demand for work is now higher than ever. Contractors aren’t necessarily out of leads, they have too many of them. Contractors fall into the trap of saying yes to every opportunity. This leads to schedules & deadlines that are too tight for a contractor to successfully start and finish a project in its entirety. And by finish, I mean closing out the job completely and getting paid for it after final walkthroughs & punch list items are addressed. Contractors will roll through a project with haste and will move on to the next just to keep up with the demand. Let’s say a tile contractor wraps up a job on Tuesday and moves on to the next job on Wednesday. Wednesday night comes around and he gets a call from his customer whose job he finished on Tuesday, stating that the shower is leaking in the corner because the tile wasn’t installed correctly. This now creates a punch list item. The homeowner states she will not pay the remaining balance until this issue is fixed. This situation leaves the contractor frustrated, because his job he started on Wednesday, needs to be done by Thursday. Now he has to drive across town to fix this small, tiny issue so he can get paid to afford the material and labor for his next jobs. Or he can choose to fight the homeowner back stating that she is being picky, and she needs to pay up.

               Another factor contributing to the black eye of the construction industry is that contractors are notorious for being poor communicators. Using this example above, plenty of contractors don’t call the unhappy customer back and essentially “ghost” them. As an estimator, I have ran in to new prospects calling us to come fix their parking lot because they can’t get ahold of the last guys who did it, so they are out of options. Even when prospects find a contractor’s phone number on google and reach out to them for a bid, contractors are too busy to even call these people back. They are in the middle of the workday, and they see a random number pop up on their phone. They look at it and think, “I'm too busy, ill call them back.” As the problems, challenges, and to-do's of the day stack on top of the contractor’s mind, he simply forgets to call back this lead. The lead calls another contractor who answered their phone and decides to just go with them since they can’t get ahold of anyone else. It is less of a hassle than waiting for a call back.

               The last factor is that contractors look like contractors. What do I mean by that? Well, picture what a contractor looks like in your head... What image comes to mind? In mine, I think of a dirty guy in his 50’s with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, his shirt and jeans are stained and filthy, his 99’ Dodge Ram has paint and dents all over it, sputtering black smoke every time he hits the accelerator. This is a HUGE reason why contractors are not respected. People make impressions in the first SEVEN seconds of seeing someone. So why would someone want to meet and trust a guy who looks like he can’t even take care of himself? It takes just a little more effort to look professional, to take care of your vehicles and your equipment. I always enjoyed getting the comments of “you don’t look like a contractor.” This tells me that I changed their perception of what they thought they were about to walk in to.

               I could go on and on about why and how a respected industry became the way it is. The truth is that if we don’t change the perception of the construction industry, we are going to have SIGNIFICANTLY higher labor shortage problems. More and more kids will continue to pursue white collared jobs, leaving a major gap in a $2.1 trillion dollar per year industry. By selecting the right opportunities, answering your phone, and looking the part of a professional, not a contractor we can slowly, but surly change the black eye perception that clouds such an amazing industry. 

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