Forg-and-the-Scorpion 200wThe Wise Fable

Centuries ago there was a fable about a scorpion and a frog. As in all stories, especially old ones, there is a moral to it. First the story, and then how it pertains to remodeling.

The Scorpion and the Frog

One day as a frog rested lazily in the sun, he was approached by a deadly scorpion. The scorpion didn’t threaten him, but asked a favor. He asked the frog to please carry him to the other side of the river.

The frog, already trembling from fear, replied that he couldn’t because he was sure the scorpion was going to kill him. Yet the scorpion assured him that no harm would come to him. After all, if he killed the frog as they swam across, they would both perish.

This made sense to the frog, and now, confident that he was safe, he beckoned the scorpion to mount on his back, and began to swim across the river. Half way across the river, the scorpion did indeed sting the frog, and they both began to sink into the river. As the frog floundered in the water, he asked the scorpion why he had stung him, as now they were both going to die. To which the scorpion replied, “Because it is in my nature. After all, I am a scorpion”. And they both sank into the river.

Beware of scorpions

How many times have you had a feeling that a prospective client wasn’t going to work out? Perhaps they tried to get an undeserved discount. Or maybe they told you that they’d had several contractors work on their home, and that they didn’t work out. But they seemed to like you. Obviously you weren’t like the others. The others merely got their just reward.

They were nice, maybe even cooperative, and you saw fit to take their job. What were the typical results of that job? Did they remain cooperative? Did they let you make a reasonable profit? Or did they turn into the ‘client from hell’?

Choosing your clients

When ‘red flags’ appear, don’t ignore them. They are there for a reason. If, in the first conversation, you hear phrases like “We’ve tried a lot of other contractors”, “We just want a price”, “What’s the least it will cost”, “We don’t have much money”, “Can you fix their mess”, or even, “Money is no object”, then it’s time to evaluate whether this is really a good client for you to take on. (I had one of those in my career. I was impressed. Money was no object. And they wanted a lot of work done. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seemed like a good deal. After weeks of work on the estimate, they told me without the least reservation, that the figure was too high. Lesson learned. Money is always an object.)

Many of you have the experience to hear and heed these warnings. You’ve become ultra-sensitive to certain phrases. It’s not that one ‘red flag’ means you should walk away, but an accumulation of them should make your very cautious about taking on that job.

Don’t get stung

The frog knew full well that the scorpion was deadly, yet he convinced himself that it would work out okay. He rationalized that the scorpion valued his life enough to not kill them both. And yet, they both perished because the frog ignored the fact that, no matter what the scorpion said, he was still a deadly scorpion. It was in his nature to kill the frog, no matter what he had promised.

In some ways, prospective clients can be the same way. Learn the warning signs before you go into contract with them. Ask the right questions. Investigate the answers carefully. Be open to the idea that every job is not necessarily a project you should take on.

Being picky works

By being judicious in your choice of clients, I assure you, that you and the clients you accept, will be satisfied with the end results. You will make the margins you deserve, and you’ll avoid unnecessary issues and call-backs.

Having a short list of happy clients is better than a long list of disgruntled clients who will never call you again, and for whom you’d rather not work for again.

This article was written by Randall S. Soules, writer, remodeling coach, advisor, educator, and creator of the Scientific Remodeling System. The Scientific Remodeling System will show you easier ways to advance your business, raise your profits, and improve your life, through the use of superior remodeling processes. If you would like to learn more about this eCourse and all of the forms and contracts available to Premium Members, click here. You are free to reprint or copy this article to your blog, newsletter, staff, etc. as long as the article is shown in its entirety and has a live link to

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