Customer Experience Productivity Trades & Services

Tradie Mistake 3 – Not Being True To your Word

Written by Jon Dale

I’m on a bit of a roll with this stuff. I’ve called people out for failing to show up to potential jobs, and for not showing up to meetings, and both of those are examples of trades business owners saying they’ll do something and not doing it. And that is damaging to your opportunity to win that job, or meet that prospect, or get business coaching, or close a deal. But it’s damaging to your reputation out there in your market, too.

And this behaviour is common (not just with tradies, all people do it). It mostly comes from wanting to avoid some social discomfort.

It’s less challenging to say “Yes, I’ll come and give you a quote” and then not show up than it is to say, “that’s not good business for me, I won’t come and give you a quote”.

It’s not nice to let people down, it’s confronting and people will avoid confronting it — all people. It’s similarly confronting to have to call later in the piece and say, “I can’t make it”, or “I’m going to be late”.

So what’s happening is, you’ve either made a commitment you don’t want to keep because you were reluctant to say “NO”, or you’ve changed your mind, and let someone down and damaged your business reputation in the process.

Part of what I coach you to do, as I’m coaching you to grow and scale and make more money, is to qualify out of jobs that aren’t good for you — where you’re not likely to win, or not likely to do a great job, or be properly profitable, or enjoy it, or whatever.

This also involves saying “NO”, doesn’t it?

I’ve had people tell me that if they don’t want a job, they’d quote high — so they won’t get it. Or if they do, (somehow) the extra money will be worth it.

This is the same thing. It’s not quite honest or true to your word — it’s not showing integrity and it’s bullshitting to avoid having to say ‘NO’ and disappoint someone.

So here’s my advice.

  • Set your rules early
  • Make your decisions according to your rules
  • Then communicate clearly and honestly
  • Then stick to your word

Everybody loves someone who sticks to their word. It will be good for your reputation and it will reduce your stress because this stuff is stressful and makes you feel bad.

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About the author


Jon Dale

Jon Dale, of Small Fish Business Coaching is a business coach for tradies - trades business owners wanting to grow their businesses. His articles will help you understand how to manage your marketing, sales, operational systems and the people of your business. His program is called the Tradies Toolbox because he hopes you can use it, like a tool, to make more money and build a business you're proud of.

There are a few ways you can explore whether working with Jon is right for you, right now:
1. You can watch these videos - subscribe here to get them emailed every week.
2. You can join the Tradies Business Toolshed Facebook Group and participate.
3. You can attend the next Tools Down Workshop - 2 days of Jon explaining the framework.
4. Or you can book a 10-minute filter call where you and Jon will both look at whether he can help.