The title of this piece is a dead giveaway. You already know I’m going to say bad things here about kontraktor2 Melayu. And that in itself is sad. But it’s the truth about many KMs, which makes it even sadder. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but this story needs to be told. For as long as we pretend that it’s not a problem, this is not just going to go away.
Here are the Top 10 Things Wrong with KMs:
KMs are late for appointments more often than not. The standard excuses apply all the time – “traffic jam”, “nak keluar, boss panggil” etc. Sometimes it’s worse – they don’t even turn up. And there are times when they don’t turn up and don’t even tell you that they can’t make it.
Let’s just say you request that they submit a simple proposal – maybe a sketch, rough bill of materials and a budget estimate. Your estimate is that this will probably take the guy a week, which includes 2 days buffer, to send something to you. KM confidently says he can do it in 3 days. At the end of 4 days, you still have not heard from him. On day 5, your call, goes straight to voice-mail. Day 6 you whatsapp, still nothing. Cut a long story short, on Day 10, he calls and says he’s ready to meet (although you only asked that he emails the short proposal to you). When you meet on that day, he says “sorry lah boss, kucing saya sakit buah pinggang masuk spital”. You fake a little sympathy and tell KM, ok, please send it to me in 2 days.
On Day 12, you receive the email from the guy and well, it looks like sh*t. Picture Nazri’s “Visit Malaysia 2020” design for you to get a feel of wtf I’m talking about here.
Wait, didn’t I mention price earlier? Almost always, quotations from KMs are more expensive than Chinese contractors. And guess what, even if they’re more expensive, I am willing to fork out say 20% more, just to “tolong Melayu”. Sad thing is their quotations are often much more than that.
Often KMs don’t understand this. They think they can just ‘wing it’. Ladies and gentlemen, business doesn’t work like that. I as a business-owner need to align my resources (time, people, money, things) with your project plan. If you finish too late, I lose time (read: money). If you finish too soon, my resources (see above) might not be ready yet; I lose money. Clear?
Now I’m sure these guys have been through short courses on Project Management at CIDB or in college. Look through your textbooks again, show me the plan, Dol. Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean that I don’t need a Project Plan. I’m paying you money, I need to know what you’re doing with that money.
And when you turn up for meetings, give me a comfort feeling that you know your stuff. And that if you don’t remember stuff, you could always refer to your notes. So buy a notebook, sketch and write while we’re talking. Not many people remember everything.
While on the subject of writing things down, please make sure that all our trade documents are in place, in detail and on time – Quotations, Receipts, Payment Slips, Delivery Notes etc etc. Whenever a task is done or a financial transaction is done, document it, sign and counter-sign where possible. That’s Business 101. It’s said that the prophet is a stickler for documentation, which makes this a sunnah, I suppose. Wallahu-alam.
Now let’s talk about the quality of work by KMs. My experience with them of late could be described in one word – shoddy. It’s as if they’re doing just the minimum so that you could, they hope, accept the work as is, without too much fuss. Bad assumption. Cutting corners to save pennies is not good for me, the customer. If I turn on the kitchen switch and toilet lamp lights up, that’s shoddy work. One coat of paint instead of the minimum two is also shoddy.
You don’t just finish your work and disappear at night with nary a good-bye or phone call. Crazy? Well, it happened to us. Here’s a piece of advice, which is actually plain common-sense – when you finish your work, walk through with me what you’ve done, show me and get my immediate feedback. If I’m happy, I’ll sign-off on the Acceptance document. If not, please rectify the short-comings and reiterate until you get Final Acceptance.
Now because of all the short-cuts (see above) and frankly dishonest work that the KM has done, I now as the business-owner has to close shop for a few days so that rectifications can be done. Now this is after repeated patches upon patches. This is what happens when you cut-corners on corners that had been cut before! Now, guess what happens when you close shop for a few days? Will your sales be zero on those days? Yes. But will you still have to pay wages, rent and utilities? Yes. Should somebody pay for this? Yes. Who? KM of course.
Now KM doesn’t wanna pay and he thinks I’ll let it go because he’s a friend. Will I ever get him to do another job? No. Kontraktor2 Melayu reading this, please take these lessons from this story:
- Be honest
- Be professional
- Be organized.
This story is not based on a true story. It’s based on many true stories. No contractors were harmed in the making of this story, although frankly, if no one’s looking, I would gladly strangle some of these KMs.