Any customer is a more-than-valued customer now. It used to be the phone rang so much you knew it was going to ring again. Now it’s still ringing, but not like it was.

We’ve had to adapt a few things, like trying not to run all subcontractors through our company. The customers pay direct for a few things now, like the fence and waterfeature installers. We’ll handle the job and run all the coordination, but we’ll let the customer pay the subcontractors direct.

I charge significantly more than anybody else in my market, so to justify those numbers, I’m taking all the legwork away from the customer and coordinating the subcontractors. We will do an overall plan for the job and suggest a location for the fence, for instance, then estimate the cost. If it looks like the homeowner is going to sign, then the subcontractor will go out and do a firm proposal.

I make my profit from installing the pool. If I tried to put a reasonable margin on all those subcontractors, it would take my job costs through the roof, and I’d have to do the warranty work. This way, I set up a relationship between the homeowner and subcontractor, so they call the subcontractor if they need service. I’ve been using these particular subs for years and years, so I trust their work.

You hate to coordinate those things and not make any money on it, but it’s the cost of doing business anymore. The jobs are few and far between now where people are willing to pay you a management fee for everything.