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Is your guilty pleasure watching Judge Judy? She’s the no-nonsense judge who puts people in their place! And there are lots of both small and larger remodelers that have felt her wrath.

The first thing that becomes obvious is that when someone is asking for money in exchange for a service, whether it is dog walking, haircuts or handymen, what is in writing is most important. If you are a small or large remodeler, now is the time to look at your paper trail. Do you have signed change orders? Do you process them right away when the changes are in front of everyone’s mind or wait until you have time, long after the client remembers the request or urgency of the change?

If you find yourself regularly writing off costs at the end of each job, just to get paid, consider tightening up your paper flow. You might even consider hiring a contract administrator. That’s a relatively new position that has become instrumental in the growth of successful contractors. The contract administrator is not a bookkeeper, but rather is the right hand of one or more project managers. This position is for someone who is detail oriented and involves controlling all contractual paperwork, including the contract, subcontracts, change orders, permits, transmittals and submittals.

Another situation that often occurs during the Judge Judy show is that each party has different and conflicting stories about the events in question. Is it always the case where one person is just out-and-out lying and the other telling the truth? Sometimes. But it often seems that both parties had different expectations of what would happen and different memories of what did happen.

This is due to poor communication on both ends. But if your business is built on customer satisfaction and getting paid for the work you do, it is crucial to focus on your communication skills. Does everyone on the job know who can make decisions, both from the client perspective as well as your company? Does your crew make promises that you don’t even know about? Who is the No. 1 person in charge of communication with the customer: your lead carpenter, your project manager, or you?

As we turn the corner out of the economic slowdown of the last few years, business around the country is booming. Are you busier than ever these days? If so, be sure to not let your focus on communication fall by the wayside.

Here’s hoping you never end up facing the fury of Judge Judy!