Thieves Are Just Awful

Did you catch the news yesterday?  Eight thieves made off with $50 Million worth of diamonds as they were being loaded onto a plane.

Theft is awful when it happens – and $50 Million is certainly a headline making event. But theft can be even more devastating when it happens to a small business person.

I just finished reading another article about a contractor who had 20 thousand dollars worth of equipment stolen from his job site – overnight.

Sometimes the tools and equipment that a thief walks away with are crucial to the work day.  Without some of those tools – nothing gets done.  It can be demoralizing to your crew to have everyone there, and no one is working because materials were stolen.

It’s part of business.  Things will get stolen.  When it’s a missing ladder, it can be easily replaced at the nearest hardware store. But when it’s custom cabinets or tile, it can sometimes set your schedule back weeks at a time.

Very often physical theft comes as a shock to new renovators. Other times, theft can be much more subtle and involve the theft of time.  Sometimes our employees are taking long, out of the way personal trips while they are “on the clock”.  I once had an employee who went home for a three hour lunch – because he needed a “nap”.

As a small business owner, theft can be extremely frustrating. Believe me – I know. I have been in the same situation.

It’s a nice sunny morning, when you pull up to a home you are working on and immediately notice that the front door is cracked open.  Unless you are the second person to the house that day, this is definitely a sign that you are off to a rough start to the day.  Through the years and after 800 renovations, we have had this happen too many times.

We have lost complete appliance sets from the kitchen.  The refrigerator, the microwave, even the stove.  Gone.  And get this –  in one situation, we even lost all the counter tops – AFTER they had been installed!

Luckily things have changed a bit.  Thanks to GPS tracking, we can keep track of some of those higher ticket items now.  But theft doesn’t always show up where you expect to find it and sometimes even the best workers will surprise you.

Some GPS tracking programs now cost less than $20 a month.  This is a great tool for the small business who has a small fleet of trucks doing business across the area.

In 2011 a friend of mine installed a GPS system on the dashboard of each of his business vans.  His contractors drive these vans all around town.  His first month – the fuel charges went down 20%, and he had more jobs completed than any previous month.

He was stunned.  He thought he could trust his employees to work as hard as he did, only to find out very differently. His initial outrage has now led to him having the most profitable year he has ever had.

Rest assured – theft doesn’t occur on every job, and certainly not every employee is skimming the clock.  Most of the time, our work day goes by without a hiccup – but every once in a while something unexpected will pop up.  You should be prepared for those instances and not let them get the best of you.  Realize that it is part of the renovation process, and learn from it.

Better yet – learn those lessons from others who have been through it already. It’s much cheaper that way.

Next Monday at WREIA we are going to be talking about contractors.  Come out and learn when to hire them, and when you absolutely MUST fire them. Learn first hand what it takes to get a General Contractors (GC) license, and why continuing education is such a big part of holding a professional GC license.

Please make plans to join us.  You can find the registration page at

Come join us Monday, Feb. 25th and listen in as we discuss contractors.  You will be glad you did.

John Peterson

Washington REIA Network, President

Profitable Property, Founder

P.S.   We are going to continue to introduce you to local professionals in our area – so you get a sense of how this business really operates. There is no better way to learn about this business, and stay on top of the current local trends than from the DC “insiders”.

P.S We are doing projects all over the Metro DC area!  If you need an active finance partner in the Washington DC area, we have been expanding our capital base and now have all the funds you could ever need to help you with your deals.   You can request a funding letter or share details on your property at