I am kind of old school. When I look at the creative ideas that some contractors in the industry use I am very surprised by the creative ways in which they engage clients into what they call the “sales funnel” and then do the nailing that they call closing. Well back in the day we didn’t have as much technology as we do today and everyone knew who the best contractor of the town was and every contractor had at least one.
In today’s world where everyone is trying to be all over it is hard to tell and determine who is what and how much it will be and what you will end up with.
I had a chance to hear stories from clients that I was called as a second contractor when they already got abandoned by another contractor. Those types of stories you can only get from the clients themselves in the newspaper or a general attorneys office. Although they don’t happen very often they still shock me and I would like to share some of the ugly tricks I have seen with you.
These are dishonest things that contractors have done, I believe that most contractors do not do these things but this article is for the information of decent clients who want a contractor that will serve them with honesty and integrity.
- A seasoned salesman shows up at the client’s home, well dressed, well spoken and gets into your environment very wisely and tries to become a “friend” and discuss the estimate with a long explanation, philosophical and theoretical, and the options are very limited to take the next step, which might be a small fee for a small repair and then to see from there. I have heard stories about a contractor that was called for leak repair in the bathroom, the small step was to also check the electrical light switch because it might be “dangerous” and from that point all the walls were taken down to repair the line, floor, ceiling and a lot more and the client ended up tens of thousands of renovations starting from a small check up repair.
- The slide method. You call to repair a leaky valve under the sink, something that might take less than one minute if just the nut needs to be tightened. The contractor sees that he cannot make a living from just turning a bolt 90 degrees, so they increase the problem to a more major problem so now their is a good reason to slide the client all the way down to a major expense.
- Its now or forever. A contractor shows up in your house, this especially works when its after work hours, night or when you need an emergency service. You might get emergency service where something needs to be done right away, but according to this contractor everything is an emergency and something must be done right now or otherwise your home is at a much higher risk and your much better off acting now, and the cost is …you name it. And when there is water all over your floor sometimes this most expensive choice seems like the only choice at that moment.
- Hit and run. The free estimate dude will walk in, will give you a surprisingly low price with a big smile and promising to solve the problem. As soon as you pay some of the deposit he will schedule a time to show up and guess what…he will never show up.
- The Let’s Open and See Guy. This guy will give you a low initial estimate and tell you only 20% of the picture while leaving some of the options open to be discovered “as we proceed…” That means in order to get the answer we need to remove some walls or some floors and then we will get to the real core, the real source of the problem but the thing is that you just got a bigger problem. As you go deeper and deeper with this guy the problems pop up one after another and so a small estimate of a few hundred dollars must be completed little by little as we go, a few hundred dollars at a time ends up at a few good thousand dollars.
- Age groups and other categories. Where I came from, there is a lot of respect for people that might be old, have special needs or in general need help. The mind set in those days was that its a good deed to give a hand and to be compassionate and to help those people even if sometimes you lower your profit. Unfortunately some unwise guys reversed the game and under the radar of targeting potential “good” buyers are the people that have difficulties and something like that cannot be forgiven. I have heard of companies that intentionally target senior citizens with their contracting services because that is a good market that cannot evaluate the wrong price quick enough and the story goes that even for changing a single skylight the cost goes up to $6,000.
The stories can go on and on in a very creative and corrupt way and unfortunately those things are part of every industry and you need to beware of them but on the hand there are good, decent, hard working contractors that have the real true intention to serve their clients and complete their job well with an aim to make a living, support their families and create long term relationships with their clients.
Free estimates are the initial contact, before you start to ask if the contractor is licensed or insured and all the standard questions, first get a stomach feeling about the person see if he makes a real effort to solve your problem, if he looks around and pays attention to details. That is a very good initial assessment to consider before you consider anything else. Relationship comes first and the rest will fall in with the same good intention of building relations.