Professional craftspeople, are made, not born!
If you’re reading this, you are already ahead of the game. Why? Because as a professional in your trade, you belong to one of the nation’s largest independent industry trade associations dedicated to training and professional development. I am presuming that you are receiving this because you care, you want to learn more, and you want to be better at what you do. Everything the NTCA does is meant to provide some benefit to our members, partners and dedicated professionals engaged in the installation of tile and allied products.
It takes time and dedication to be an experienced craftsperson. You only get better by being dedicated to improving the services you provide. When you deliver with a high degree of professionalism, it will be evident by your results that you are a trained and skilled craftsperson. Your expertise has value and did not occur accidentally. It took several years of dedication, effort and no doubt some pain.
There is at least one thing that consistently separates successful craftspeople or companies from those who are unsuccessful: the ability to explain to a customer why their installations have value above the tile – and why the quality of the installation below the tile may be even more important. Your skills suit the needs of the project. Delivering that message in a credible way requires experience and expertise, which has been gained through sacrifice and commitment.
You should get paid for that!
Clients who only want to talk about how cheaply you can perform the work are not clients you want to keep. They will never acknowledge the value of your commitment and experience. You may occasionally need to take a job or two from clients like these. In that case, they are serving your purpose and are a means to an end. Even in those circumstances you still need to deliver your best product. That may be the reference you need to turn the next corner or lead you to discover your new best client. You just never know.
The reward and accomplishment come when you get to a level of experience which you can confidently present to a buyer, designer, builder etc., the process you are proposing and the products you are recommending meet or exceed the basic needs of the project. Also, that you have the skill to solve any need not originally included in the project. Now you need to stand your ground and deliver that message. When it is backed up by expertise, gained by sacrifice, occasional frustration and probably some really big mistakes along the way, you will be compensated inline with the level of service, value and professionalism you deliver.
I am continually amazed how willingly some of us will work for free. We are uncomfortable or feel that we should not ask to be compensated for additional preparation, time or supervision. You may choose to make a business decision based on project value, client value or circumstances. You may decide to employ a strategy where you don’t press for payment. But generally, it has to do with us not wanting to be confrontational. People want to get along. However, you know when a client simply does not value your expertise. They are asking for you to work for free and you are agreeing. None of us can do that for very long.
So, don’t be intimidated about confidently and professionally explaining why the floor needs to be leveled, or the walls need to be plumbed, or the paint overspray needs to be removed. You are delivering valuable expertise and knowledge. You should get paid for that!
David Allen Company
Chairman, ANSI A-108
Chairman, US TAG ISO T-189
Board of Directors ABC-VA
Voting Member TCNA Handbook
NTCA Reference Manual