Guest Post: Giving the patient what he wants?

This is a guest blog post by Tony Baratto, President at Evans Roofing Company, Inc.

Tony Baratto

The Conrad Murray trial is a metaphor for the contracting industry. As a roofing contractor, I have heard every excuse in the book for “getting one more year” out of a failing roof membrane. I do know that when I work under those conditions, I am guilty of practicing bad medicine.

But, like Conrad Murray, some of my patients are just too big to argue with. So, I sometimes find myself in the position of accepting responsibility for a decision I KNOW is the wrong decision.

Of course, my decisions are not usually in the life and death category but, they could be. Lots of time I see structural conditions that are deteriorated because of water damage. A large seismic event could expose those damages in a very life threatening way. I have seen roof deck conditions so bad in some retail locations that I have implored family and friends to never shop at those locations because I fear that even a modest earthquake could lead to collapse.

Of course, I inform the client of my fear and nearly beg for those conditions to be remedied at once. However, most often the answer is something like ”we may be tearing this building down next year” or “we are planning a complete renovation soon.” All they want is my best effort to keep the place watertight through the winter.

Just like Conrad Murray, I hook the patient up with my strongest medicine and squeeze the syringe. Someday I may find myself in court defending those actions. I see now, there is no defense. All of us really need to learn where the line is between being a good contractor and being a good person.

It will not be cheap. If we refuse, someone else will get the job. (Not that I would ever hope for this.) Worse yet, there probably will not be an earthquake, no devastation or “aha moment” that will make our decision look wise. We’ll just lose the job and maybe even lose the client.

Like Mother always said “Being good isn’t always the easiest choice.”

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