Dear Amy: My husband is a home builder and can fix just about anything.
What do I do with female friends who call and ask for free advice -- then when they have a big project, they hire a stranger who gives them a "better" price until the project starts (then they add in hidden fees)?
This has happened twice with "good" friends who love to call until it is time to hire someone. It is hurtful to my husband and me, although I try not to mix friendship and business.
We also have neighbors who call, ask for an estimate and then do the repair themselves, thus making the problem worse! I will be happy when the housing market picks up again so we won't have time for these calls. It is becoming difficult to maintain friendships when this is how we get treated!
Dear Not: In the course of doing business, your husband will not get many of the jobs he provides estimates for -- whether or not they are for friends.
People who receive an estimate and then make the problem worse by trying to fix it themselves are, like you, affected by the recession -- and their cob jobs may create work for your husband down the road. Your husband can change the dynamic by behaving more professionally. If someone calls for "free advice," he should make an appointment with them during business hours and prepare an estimate. Once he provides an estimate, he can let people know that if they receive a lower estimate, he might cut his price.
If five friends call and your husband can net two paying jobs from these calls, that's a pretty good batting -- or business -- average.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to email@example.com.