What type of customer are you? When shopping for home improvement contractors what aspect of the job is the most important? In the 14 years we’ve been in business we’ve found there are only two different types of clients: Those searching for the best price, and those searching for the best company. What does this mean? Well, not all contractors are created equal. If you’ve ever been burned by a contractor you understand the previous statement all too well. Ask yourself: Did the contractor communicate with me throughout the entire project? Did they show up on time? Was their scope of work clear? Was my property cleaned of any debris each day? Did they handle my home as if it was their own? Were they easy to get a hold of? Was the contractor following the proper safety precautions? Were they fully insured or OSHA certified?
If the answer to any of these questions was “no”, then chances are your experience was unpleasant. To prevent this from happening we ask our potential clients to act like they’re interviewing us for the position. In an interview you wouldn’t ask for a candidates salary requirements and nothing else; you’d ask about their qualifications, background, and previous work experience. If everything were exceptional, you’d even be willing to pay more. We want you do think of hiring a contractor the same way.
After all, two different painters can buy the same brand of paint, but that doesn’t mean the job will look the same. A product, even though identical in design, does not dictate the price. Two different gutter guys using the same type of gutter does not make them equal. A homeowner concerned with pricing looks at the product, whereas a homeowner whose interviewing a contractor looks at everything surrounding the job.
When interviewing a contractor ask the following questions: If I call will someone answer my questions? If I have a problem will someone come out and look at it? Do you have the proper insurance? Do your workers speak English so I can communicate while the project is in progress?
Don’t take their word for it! Investigate and research each company. Ask to see their workman’s comp and general liability certificates. Go a step further and call the policyholder and ask how many installers are covered. Why? Workman’s comp is fairly expensive so many contractors concerned with price will not ensure all their workers, leaving the homeowner exposed. We even recommend doing an Internet search of the company for positive or negative reviews. Third party sites like Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, GuildQuality and Kudzu are places homeowners can go to see honest reviews out of the company’s control.
If you’ve owned a home for 20 years, chances are you’ve had some sort of nightmare project. You hired someone for the job that didn’t show up on time, had terrible communication resulting in something not being done the way it was described, and inevitably made the entire experience unpleasant. If you’ve been through this situation ask yourself: Was I getting pricing or was I interviewing for the best contractor?
Here are the facts: Companies that compete on price alone cannot offer service. If you’ve ever had a contractor get hostile after complaining or asking them to come back to fix something, they are most likely a price driven company. Anger, hostility, and aggression are all traits “lowest price contractors” display when things don’t go according to plan. The reason? The contractor bid the job so tight they simply cannot afford for anything to go wrong or out of scope; the more problems, the less profitable. That’s the attitude taken by a business that’s concerned with giving their clients the best price. Whereas a company that built their business around value, is willing to spend money to make their clients experience that much more enjoyable. They pay their guys well, so in turn they treat the clients better, they have an office staff answering the phones when you call, and they buy good materials.
So remember, if you’re looking for a company that’s going to provide a good experience, be prepared to pay a little more. But if you’re looking for a cheaper price, be prepared to give something up.