I hear and see it all the time. “I picked up a side gig. I have to go do this job...my customer...my helper.” I do not approve of any of these terms. They do not bring any respect to your business. It gives your business a negative appearance in my opinion. Let’s work through each of them and see why.

Side Gig

A flooring professional should never say this about anything flooring related. If you work for another company Monday through Friday full-time and install flooring, then you, my friend, are a professional flooring installer. When you pick up that “side gig,” that is a flooring installation; you are not picking up a side gig. You are picking up a project. You are the professional and this is all you do for a living; therefore, you are doing a project. 

Now, if you pick up a project painting a room, doing some drywall or even some plumbing, then, I would consider that a side gig. That is something outside of the normal scope of your profession. It would be a completely legitimate use of the phrase in that case. What happens when you say side gig, you are indicating that you may have some skill in that area but are not fully knowledgeable. Your rate probably reflects that. If you do something as a professional and pick up a project outside of your normal place of business, do it as the professional you are and charge accordingly. 


Jobs are pointless, menial and brain-numbingly boring. Teenagers have jobs that they go to and work at. As a contractor, I have projects. I complete projects, not jobs. A project sounds much more professional when you are discussing this with a potential client or the current client. It gives it an air of respect and legitimacy. It makes the value instantly higher. It subtly shows how you have respect for yourself and your skillset. Don’t go do a job. Anyone can show up and punch a clock. Not everyone can complete a project successfully.


This one is huge to me. Stop calling them customers. It is so offensive. Let’s do a little research first. Customer is defined as “a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.” A client is “one that is under the protection of another” and a person who engages the professional services or advice of another.” 

There is a glaringly obvious difference between these terms. I’m fine being a customer at a box store. I walk in and I purchase something that I need, and I walk out. I don’t typically need any help, and I am not looking for professional services. However, for you, the flooring installer, the contractor, the business owner, what are you offering? 

This goes back to job versus project. Which are you offering? I have clients because I bring them under my protection. I give them the professional advice they are looking for, and I deliver a professional end result done to industry standards. A customer does not get treated as well in my opinion as a client would. Have clients and make sure you call them that.


Could there be any worse term for an employee that you have hired? Perhaps, but this is truly deplorable. I believe this is one reason we struggle so much with young talent. Who wants to be a helper? 

Apprentice. Hire an apprentice and treat them as such. Give them a clearly laid-out plan of how they can move ahead in your business, how they can gain more monetary compensation, and what skills need to be known when. A helper has nowhere to go. A helper is just that, someone who helps. Maybe they can make a basic cut, move the materials around, fetch tools, and clean a bucket. 

A helper is not a journeyman and has no way of getting there. How could they even dream of it? They’re just a helper. An apprentice is someone who is studying under you to become a journeyman. The title implies there is a journey to be made and something better is waiting for them when they complete the apprenticeship. 

These are just a few of my terminology pet peeves that I hear contractors use. They make me cringe. How much better would the appearance of your business be publicly if you change these few terms and made them the standard? What would it do for your mindset and how you view your business and employees? What would it do for the mindset of your employees if these became the standard? 

I can tell you that I don’t want to walk into a retail showroom and hear discussions about customers and jobs. That is not the place I would want to do business. That is a place that is focused on transactions in my opinion. I am personally focused on building relationships that have long term value and the words I used above have helped me build that with my clients.

While I have never be complimented about the terms I use or had it mentioned in a review, I believe that subconsciously they matter. People don’t always pick up on the obvious, but they do notice differences between the companies they interact with. These terms make me more confident in my dealings with clients and their projects. I feel it gives them and their homes the respect they deserve.

Do you have any terms that you think we should not use in the industry?