It has taken me 37 years to figure out that there are two kinds of contractors, and two kinds of homeowners. Let’s start with Contractor (A). This guy offers homeowners the whole package…experienced, one who has built a reputation that can only be acquired by years of repetition, continues to accumulate thousands of satisfied references, a skilled craftsman who only uses the best materials available, who offers a warranty that can only be given with a recipe of skill know how, and the best ingredients available to construct a top-quality product.
Then there exists the (B) Contractor. This guy offers a very attractive price. He uses the most cost-effective materials with a very vague warranty. This guy doesn’t have the references as contractor (A)… but his price is his selling point. There are many (B) contractors out there, and very few (A) guys.
Contractor(A) is so confident in his abilities; he asks for no money down. He has the experience and the know-how. Once payment is needed, there are multiple payment options Contractor (A) offers. Contractor (B) asks for half down before the project has begun.
This past weekend, Contractor(A), gave an estimate to a customer. The project was a very large project. As in most cases, the customer was gathering a few estimates.
A few days later, the customer contacted Contractor (A)… telling him they really liked his product, his references and reviews, and his confidence… yet he had another estimate which was 16000 less than his quote. He was confused, asking how can two contractors estimating the same exact deck be so different in price? Contractor (A), asked to see Contractor (B)’s quote, so as to compare. Contractor (B)’s quote was for a decking that was 4000 cheaper. His railing system was 4000 less expensive, his framing and footing layout was below code, and another 4000 cheaper. His warranty was next to nothing, leaving the homeowner literally no recourse if the project failed. This homeowner who originally thought that both decks were being built exactly the same, now saw the importance of the different quotes. Contractor (A)’s quote was for a deck that can only increase in value, and even though it was more money, it was a project that was important to be built right, with the added satisfaction that it will be an investment. This homeowner understood that his home was his most valued possession, and spending more meant more value.
A few days later, a homeowner who contractor (A) gave an estimate to, contacted him to tell him he had a few estimates and was going with the cheapest bid he received. To him, all deck builders are the same.
So, I finally figured this estimate thing out. There are two kinds of homeowners…some want value, some want the best price. I chose to model my business by building a deck that will last a lifetime…using more expensive materials backed by a proven warranty, more expensive, experienced labor, and most importantly a lifetime warranty. We can’t compete on price, but we go home every night with a clear conscience, knowing our deck is built to last. We are not going to contract every homeowner we meet…far from it. But the ones who decide to trust in us do so knowing they have chosen the best.
So, as we are about to enter in the strong part of estimating, we ask our potential customers to ask themselves…is it price or quality you want in this important home improvement project you are interested in…you can’t have both.