Before I got into the job I’m in now, and before I was in the carpenter’s union, I worked independently a lot, taking side jobs. Let me give you some advice about side jobs, get everything in writing!
This was probably 10 years ago now when I took a side job with this doctor who practically lived in a mansion. He had gotten new carpeting in his whole place and when the carpeting guys left, he found that all the doors in his place rubbed on the carpet. What he needed was someone to come in and undercut all the doors in his place… this was maybe about 30 doors.
Since I was still new to the business, I was an idiot. The first thing I did was quote him a cheap price ($850)…cheaper than I should have, but I didn’t really know yet how much profit was normal and what my time was worth. The second thing was that I didn’t get anything in writing. I told him $850 and he said “okay” and I got to work.
I worked hard on undercutting those doors and finished it all in 8 hours. Pretty fast for a job that size and being all by myself. If I’d have taken longer like most carpenters, the mansion owner probably wouldn’t have questioned my $850 price.
But he did question it. He decided to re-negotiate after the job was already done. Since the job was already done and I didn’t have anything in writing, all I could really do was accept the $600 re-negotiated payment he offered.
I didn’t know any better then. I still work quickly and do the job right, nothing wrong with that. But here’s two blue collar tips for taking on any side hustles or side jobs:
- Get things in writing…even if it’s just a price scribbled on some paper with their signature, at least then you’ve got something in your hand.
- Be confident and forceful in collecting what is owed. I don’t mean forceful as in putting a fist in someone’s face (although seriously, I’d like to do that to some clients), but forceful with your voice and confident in your stance. You’re owed money and they need to give it to you.