Electrocution lesson

High voltage

Shocking news!

Like many, I have trouble getting tradespeople to do anything.

But compelled by the dictates of 120-year-old Empire House, I keep bashing away.

Recently, I had a rare win with an electrician.

I report this result in the hope you may repeat it in your home and/or business.

Such peer review could flag a shift in artisan communication.


In the past, I sought to curry favour with tradies by being friendly and flexible.

But I went way too far. For instance, when a:

  • Sparkie asked for a convenient time to visit, I said I worked from home and was there pretty much 24/7.
  • Plumber said he was flooded with storm work, I said I’d happily wait until he caught up.
  • Plasterer mentioned he had several big jobs on, I offered to let him do mine in between.

I thus gave away all my power for a modicum of goodwill.

And when, as people do, these craftsmen took my inches to miles, I got upset.

On reflection, I see I was unreasonable, as I’d created a rod for my own back.


Having failed to resolve a chronic phone line problem, I switched from gentle reminders to a more structured approach:

‘Dear Fred*,

Could we please get this problem fixed on Monday?

I’ve been waiting for nearly six months now, and my clients have been complaining about my crap phone line – which is making me sound like a hack.

I have a multi-party phone conference with a huge new prospect this week, so it’s critical I get this problem sorted beforehand.

Please can you help?!

Best regards,


Fred came the next day! He fixed my line, which remains flawless.

How come that?!

Stunned at my success, I analysed my approach and found four points of difference. I had:

  1. Nominated a specific day.
  2. Flagged the time I’d been waiting.
  3. Detailed the consequences of not getting action.
  4. Used a much firmer tone.

Maybe I was just lucky.

But I sure plan to try this tack again.

(I’ll let you know how I get on.)


Meanwhile, let’s take a macro look at my experience.

Building-related businesses are dropping like flies.

I wonder if this downturn might encourage tradies to lift their game.

Could the building industry take a hard look at itself and address such chronic complaints as:

  • Failing to turn up.
  • Failing to turn up on time.
  • Turning up unannounced, weeks after an appointment, immediately before some vital event (e.g. large family dinner).
  • Doing sub-standard work.
  • Using sub-standard materials.
  • Refusing to provide guarantees.

In my view, any tradie who pulled this off could eclipse his shabby competitors to win a dwindling work pie.

Or is such thinking pie in the sky?

Whatever your view,

this debate needs your



* Not his real name.


Paul Hassing | Founder & Senior Writer – The Feisty Empire