Contractors: Why Punctuality Is Important

Written by Tommy Scribbins of Accent Roofing Service
Updated July 15, 2015
new roof and portico soffit
Homeowners appreciate when contractors respect their time. Think twice before hiring a tardy roofer. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Catherine T. of Wayland, Massachusetts)

Five reasons why homeowners expect home remodeling contractors to show up on time.

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Dear Fellow Contractors: If you think time equals money, think again. Here's the difference: Money can be replaced — time cannot. That’s why the slightest hint of disrespect for your customers’ time may dig you a hole from which you never climb out.

Kick that tardiness habit. Don’t “try to improve.” Don’t “plan to work on it.” Just kick the habit cold turkey.

RELATED: How Unlicensed Contractors Can Cost You

Once punctuality becomes a nonnegotiable part of your company’s culture, you’ll find that the rewards are well worth the effort. And should you have any trouble flipping that punctuality switch, remember these five points about the value of time:

1. Contractor tardiness is a form of theft

Never mind your good intentions, the message received by the customer when you run late is, “This contractor is making decisions about how I should invest my day, and I don’t like what I feel.”

MORE: 5 Tips for a Better Contractor-Customer Relationship

2. When tardy, spare the details and cough up the apology

When you offer excuses, you’re essentially gambling. You’re betting that the offended homeowner, your “judge,” will accept your defense and let you off the hook. That’s a sucker bet because in Grownup World — your problems are not his or her problem.

Blown head gasket? You should have taken better care of your truck. Wrong turn? If you can’t follow directions, you probably won’t follow mine, either. Traffic? That’s life in the big city, pal. Your customers won’t say such things, but they will think them.

roofers installing new roofing on a home
When hiring a home improvement contractor, make sure they value your time. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Mary K. of Indianapolis)

3. Contractors should honor the “left window” for appointments

Many contractors make appointments for a time range rather than a specific time. That’s acceptable, but keep in mind that most customers will forget the range and focus on the earliest time they hear.

For example, if your home improvement appointment is scheduled between noon and 3 p.m., noon is your "left window." Before the clock strikes noon, call your customer with an update. This will serve as a reminder that you agreed on a range and will let her or him know that the appointment hasn’t slipped your mind.

RELATED: 9 Questions to Ask a Contractor's References

If you fail to honor that left window, don’t be surprised when you show up at 12:45 p.m. and are greeted with a scowl instead of a cheer. That may not be fair, but it is human nature.

4. Tread softly when early

Never assume that early is even better than on time. If you’re running ahead of schedule, call first and get clearance to land.

Many contractors have earned a one-way ticket to the doghouse by showing up early and embarrassing a homeowner whose house or hair were in a state of disarray. Ten years after the fact, my wife still hasn’t forgiven the siding guy who showed up at 7:50 a.m. rather than 8, began pounding on the door and shouting, “Hurry up, I’m a busy man.”

MORE: Angie's List Guide to Working with Contractors

5. Familiarity breeds tardiness

If you’re on time for the homeowner's initial estimate and late for all of your other appointments, your credibility will take a dizzying nosedive. Why? Because taking people for granted is one of the few offenses that’s even more serious than being late.

After making a good first impression by being on time for the estimate, pile on the Brownie points by following up on time. On your mark. Get set. Be on time!

Have you ever encountered a punctuality-challenged contractor? Tell us about it the comments section below!

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Aug. 7, 2013. 

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About this Experts Contributor: Providing roofing services in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Tommy Scribbins founded Accent Roofing Service in 1989. He has a degree in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master's degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa. His area of expertise is steep slope roofing.

As of July 16, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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