In any industry, you will find companies who thrive and those who struggle. Aside from companies who thrive for a short period of time riding a trend, most businesses that enjoy continued growth and success have two things going for them: quality work and/or products; and a high level of customer service. Nordstrom has long been lauded as a company whose customer service is second to none, and their merchandise of high quality. Not known for big sales or discounts, Nordstrom customers pay a bit more because they know that they are getting quality products from people who will stand behind them, and will make their experience shopping with them pleasant.
The home improvement industry is no different. Contractors who offer high quality products and services coupled with outstanding customer service are well on their way to success. Other factors are certainly at play – marketing and advertising, bookkeeping, scheduling, and fostering a healthy company culture are crucial as well. But first and foremost, from the viewpoint of the customer, great products installed well, and interactions with staff make or break the home improvement experience. As a customer shopping for a reputable contractor, we offer some insight into what you might expect from different companies.
Home Improvements on the Cheap
While it may be tempting to spend less money and hire a friend (or a friend of a friend) who does work on side, buyer beware…bigtime. Many home improvements, and home improvement companies, are regulated by counties and municipalities for a reason. When done improperly by unlicensed contractors, home improvements can severely damage your home, and even be dangerous. Wiring installed by an unlicensed electrical contractor could malfunction and cause a fire. A roof installed by an unlicensed roofer can cause leaks that can go undetected, resulting in mold, drywall damage and even ceiling collapse. Improperly installed plumbing can cause leaks and even flooding. And if these improvements are not installed by licensed professionals, your homeowners insurance may decline coverage.
Before you hire any contractor, it is advised that you check to be sure that they are licensed and insured. Licensed contractors are held to state mandated standards, which often require certifications.
Beware High Pressure Sales Tactics
All too often in the home improvement industry, companies adopt a high pressure approach to sales. These tactics may include:
- Requiring all homeowners to be present during the sales ‘pitch’
- Asking for 1 or more hours of your time during the sales process
- Discounts for signing on the spot
- No guarantee of pricing today being the same as tomorrow
Companies often adopt these tactics as a way to increase their closing percentage. In other words, their belief is that by approaching sales in this way, they will gain more customers. Some even go as far as to penalize their sales people if they do not close the sale the same day.
Sale Pitch vs. Product and Installation Information
If you’re like most, you don’t necessarily want to be ‘sold’ on a product. Instead, most homeowners are instead seeking some degree of education on whatever project they are looking to have completed. If they are in the market for new windows, they might want to compare how energy efficient different window products are, and how the style will look in their home. They may be interested in product warranties as well, and whether or not those warranties will transfer to the next owner of their home – a factor that can help in the home selling process.
Depending on the customer, this education process can be achieved in a variety of ways, and at varying levels. Some customers want to educate themselves. They might seek a lot of information from different sources, or they might simply put their trust in a friend, neighbor, or a company they have used before. Or, they might opt to have the contractor(s) that they are considering educate them. This is a personal choice. Before you have a contractor come to your home, it is wise to ask what their sales process entails.
Know the Facts on Pricing
When it comes to product pricing, a factor that high pressure companies will use to try and lock you in on the spot, contractors are typically made aware of pending price increases by suppliers. For example, if a pricing for a particular line of shingles like those from CertainTeed, will be going up, manufacturers and suppliers will notify contractors of the increase ahead of time.
As far as installation pricing goes, contractors who hire sub-contractor crews will also be made aware of any pending hourly, or per-job increases. And of course, contractors who employ their own installation crews have full control over when and how much their install pricing will increase.
Therefore, using the ‘we can’t guarantee these prices tomorrow’ tactic is not necessarily valid.
Our Approach to Home Improvements
S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows has served customers in Maryland and Northern Virginia since 1980. As a family-owned and operated business that has grown from a 2-person company to a $25M leader in exterior home improvements, our approach to sales and service is simple. Our sales people will work with you in the way that is right for you. If you are seeking an education in products and installation, we are more than happy to provide that to you. If you have already done your research, we will respect that as well. We do not require that all homeowners are present during our visit. In fact, if you do not have the time to spend at home meeting with us, we can visit your home to take measurements and call you to discuss your project by phone after that.
From a service standpoint, we pride ourselves in striving to make your experience worry free, guaranteed. From the initial contact to asses your needs, to the estimate, scheduling, installation and follow-up, our staff works hard to satisfy your home improvement needs.
We offer fair pricing, and will lock your estimate price for 10 days. We will never tell you today that your price might be different tomorrow!
If you are in need of exterior home improvements, we encourage you to shop around to find the contractor that best fits your needs. Compare pricing, reputation and testimonials, and don’t forget to ask about licensing and insurance. We’d welcome the opportunity to be on your list of considered contractors. To schedule a free, no-obligation estimate, call us or click here to complete our online estimate request.
Best of luck with your next home improvement project!