Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CanadianContractor.ca Interview With Mike Holmes, Part 9

I do believe this is the last segment in an interview that CanadianContractor.ca did with Mike Holmes, and boy is it a doozie!

Here's the video:

This was a great segment, and Mike really exposes himself for who he really is. The interview starts off referring back to segment 8 of the interview, in which Mike Holmes talks about educating the client as to the good, better, and best way to do the project. Once the client is educated, he or she should be able to make an informed decision based on the information and not just on price. Makes sense, right? Not always. Unfortunately some clients are unreasonable and are willing to compromise the job for a better price. Mike Holmes has made it clear, not only in this interview but throughout the years, that he will not work with these types of clients.

It's at this point where the interview begins with the host asking Mike, what do I do when I've already educated the client and he or she still insists on cheaping out, and there's a contractor down the street willing to swoop in and do it for half the price? Mike's answer is simple and straightforward, "Then don't work for that client." The host shoots back defensively, "Then I'm out of business." Taking a long deep breath, Mike continues. "Do you bend differently than who you are? Or do you just do what makes sense?" Mike then explains how being a contractor to him means having the integrity to do the job right or not at all, and he can't justify taking someone's money and not doing the job the way the job needs to be done. "I can never change who I am, and if the homeowner doesn't want to do it right, I'm not interested in doing the job." The host responded, "It sounds like you're saying, you do it the way that you must do it or you don't do it at all...you just have to ignore the challenges at each end." At this point in the interview, I couldn't believe my ears. Did I really just hear the host defend accepting money from a client to do sub par work? (Perhaps the host was playing devil's advocate or attempting to give a contrasting argument?) As Mike explained earlier in the interview, there's a minimum standard that every contractor should establish -- the cheapest way to do the job right. In Mike's opinion, a responsible contractor should not be willing to do the job wrong, even if it's what the client wants. "I was brought up with tough love. My dad was a tough son of a bitch, and he said to me, 'Mike, if you're going to do it, you do it right the first time or you don't do it.'" Those words, familiar to any Holmes fan, pretty much sum it up. In Mike's eyes, there is no justification for doing the job wrong, not to get the job, not to put food on the table, not even to stay in business as a contractor. "It it doesn't work for me, I'll change my career." The interview ends there with the two men shaking hands cordially, perhaps agreeing to disagree.

This interview series started out with Mike on the defensive, having to defend certain comments he made in a Reader's Digest article in which he stated that the majority of contractors were "bad." Throughout this interview, which has been released in short video segments over the past few months, Mike has not only stood by his words, but also defended his reputation, and even took a few lumps when he was called out for not having all the proper licences that he demands other contractors have. Minus a few disingenuous statements made by the host in a post-interview video end cap, I'd say this interview series was well balanced for the most part. Mike was allowed to make his points, and his opinions were generally given respect. Mike, in turn, was also respectful of the differing philosophies expressed by host Rob Koci. All in all, the CanadianContractor.ca interview with Mike Holmes gets the coveted Holmes Spot Seal of Approval. Job well done.


  1. This particular topic has been discussed on the forum umpteen times over the years & I've commented on it umpteen times.

    I'm on Mike's side. People don't seem to understand that while Mike can afford to use more expensive materials on a project what it really boils down to is the installation process.

    The average home owner doesn't understand why something needs to be done so it'll work properly & be safe.

    How much exctra does it cost to use junction boxes instead of just twisting wires together.

    Use cheap insulation in your attic & see how long your roof will last & how high your heating bill will be.

    Whether you can afford to use granite or plastic for a counter top, if they are installed badly, You won't be happy.

    You can buy electric outlets & switches at a Dollar store or use more expensive, quality products & guess which one will last longer & don't threaten to cause a fire.

    If you go for the cheap quote you invariably end up paying more in the long run.

    I don't buy the argument that if you don't agree to take a job because you can't do it properly because the client demands to much for what he's willing to pay, you won't survive with your business.

    If you do quality work & can explain to the client what will be the better choice over the long haul, you'll develop a reputation for honesty & integrity that will pay off.

    Many year ago I operated a quick print franchise & one client wanted business cards for his new business that he was starting from his kitchen table. He wanted 4 color printing but would not accept the fact that it would cost him 1 dollar per card for 500. He kept pestering me & finally gave up. He could not understand that 4-color printing is only viable for large print jobs.

    If a client makes unreasonable demands, without willing to pay for it, walk away. It's a waste of your time & will cost you monay.

    I think for a lot of contractors landing the deal as quickly as possible is the main objective instead of taking the time to explain the pros & cons of what the client wants.

  2. I think this speaks to our current society of instant gratification. Good quality products take time, effort and money. I may not like that I don't have the money but I do appreciate that people like Mike are willing to stand by the integrity of their work. I also appreicate that he and others like him see post above and prior posts from the host of this blog on walking away from the customer when the integrity of the work is on the line. Kudos to all who take time to do the work right the first time. Thank you for all that you do!