Remodelers can’t seem to make up their minds. Even as they complain about regulations — RRP, contractor licensing, 1099 audits — they also complain about low barriers to entry into the industry. They want to be perceived as professionals, but they can’t seem to agree on what it means to be a professional.

The word “profession” stems from the Latin for promise, but not just any promise. A “profession” is a public promise to act in a way that benefits individuals and society.

That benefit accrues from certain hallmarks of a profession, which include associations that provide training and licensing in a specialized body of knowledge and a particular set of skills, and also a code of ethics that establishes certain duties and responsibilities toward employees, clients, and society. A profession admits members who meet its criteria, and disciplines or dismisses members who don’t.

This is what remodelers aspire to be, and yet, when asked about blowing the whistle on a contractor who is unlicensed or who is performing work without proper training and certification, most remodelers say they never have and never will. They follow the rules themselves, but when it comes to turning in somebody who doesn’t, they say it’s not their job.

Then whose job is it?

Reputation & Integrity

Most professionals are required to police themselves to protect the reputation and integrity of their professions and the welfare of the society they serve. The bottom line is this: If you’re losing work to unlicensed, untrained, uncertified contractors — and I’m sure you are — then your business is at risk. And if your business fails, that promise you made — that “profession” — is broken.

But there are more dire consequences that are much closer to home. When you put your business at risk, you put your family at risk; and your employees and their families; and your trade partners and their employees and their families.

Being a professional in business is an awesome responsibility. It is not simply a way for you to make a living; it is the life-support system for a long chain of dependents. How you perform and the decisions you make affect a lot of people. So does what you do and what you don’t do.

If you have a problem turning people in, fine. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t complain about low barriers to entry — and about the barriers themselves — but do nothing when others fail to meet what you believe to be minimal requirements.

Professionals have no choice: If they don’t drop the dime, they drop the ball. —Sal Alfano, editorial director, REMODELING.