I am convinced that one of the main reasons our business survived is that we never depended on banks to finance our needs.
If we needed equipment, we bought it with proceeds from our jobs. If we did not have the resources to buy the newest and best piece of equipment, we bought used. We never borrowed money to get through a job.
Instead, we worked out a payment schedule that forced our customers to finance their own projects. There were many times when the customers were kicking and screaming over our terms which required 50 percent up front, 25 percent when the job was nearly completed, and 25 percent before it was unloaded.
In many states, this is not allowed if you are a licensed contractor. For that reason, I never became a contractor, preferring instead to have my business classified as a manufacturer. We constantly had to make concessions like splitting the deposit into two payments or allowing a small retention at the end of the job. But we tried to keep to our terms as much as possible and as a result, we never ended up indebted to the bank.
Sometimes we had to resort to the usual techniques to get through the thin times. Things like low balling and front loading, which I’ll discuss later in the week. But the one thing we never had to worry about was the bank calling to demand money that we didn’t have.