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Tag: home improvements

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Home Improvement Sales

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

Home Improvement Sales
S&K salesman Tom Ciambruschini provides information on windows to customers in our showroom.

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!

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The Contractor Game – Home Improvement Sales Tactics NOT to Fall For

As with any industry, in home improvement you have your reputable contractors and you have your dishonest ones. Then you have a whole layer of contractors who, while licensed, employ sales tactics that we consider to be borderline. Why? Because many of them are designed to pressure customers into making quick decisions without the benefit of doing research and comparing prices. In this blog post we outline several of these home improvement sales tactics and why you should be wary of them.

Sales Tactic

Requiring that ‘all homeowners’ be present at the time of the estimate.

Why Do They Do It?

Home improvements such as new windows, a new roof or new siding are big ticket items. The decision of what to purchase and how much you are willing to spend is generally a decision that is made jointly between all owners of the property.  Sounds reasonable to request that you all be present during the sales call, right? It is. What is not reasonable is to require it. In other words, to refuse to come to your home unless you’re all there is a red flag. They will tell you that it’s so you all have the information first hand. What they really want is to pressure you into signing on the spot. With all homeowners present, it is easier for the sales person to push for the sale on the spot.

Why We Don’t Do It

We do not require all homeowners be present for several reasons. First of all, we know how busy families are – work schedules and obligations like kids in sports make ‘extra time’ to take care of home improvements together nearly non-existent. Along with respecting your time, we also respect your intelligence. We know that you are capable of working with us, and informing your significant other on what was discussed. Lastly, we will never ask you to sign on the dotted line during the estimate process. In fact, because we need to return to the office, contact our suppliers and work up a well thought out estimate that provides you with the most value, in most cases we won’t provide a final price until a day or two after we meet. Therefore, there is no need to require that you all be present.

Sales Tactic

Asking you to allow 2-4 hours for the estimate.

Why They Do It

In short, to wear you down. The first tactic of requiring that you all be present leads to the opportunity for the sales person to overwhelm you both with information. Seemingly endless product options, features and benefits of the products you’re looking at, and copious amounts of installation information can take a lot of time. Some sales people will have videos, presentations, and samples to show. They will walk you around the home and show you various items and issues. By the time they are finished, you can’t fathom the prospect of doing this over again 2 or 3 more times while shopping. You’re just done and can’t wait to get this over with!

Why We Don’t Do It

Your time is valuable and so is ours. We have all of the information you want, but our job is not to assume you don’t know what you want or that you are a novice in home improvements. In fact, many of our customers, especially in today’s information age, come to us already having done their research on their own time. They’ve talked to friends and neighbors. They’ve done online research. They may have even visited home shows and showrooms and know exactly what they want. So why waste 2 or more hours of your time starting from scratch? On the flip side, if you are just getting started and want to pick our brains – great! We’re happy to do that. We want the process to be as worry free as possible.

Sales Tactic

Giving you a better price today than tomorrow, or not being able to guarantee today’s price beyond today.

Why They Do It

Once again, the name of the game for many contractors is getting a signed estimate on the spot. If the sales person senses that you are on the fence once the 2-4 hours you have spent together is finished, he may strongly encourage you to sign on the premise that prices may go up tomorrow. After all, manufacturers change prices frequently, right? Your sales person may even go as far as to tell you that he does not make a commission unless he gets you to sign. Oh the guilt! While that may or may not be true, his compensation should not be your responsibility.

Why We Don’t Do It

In order to provide you with an estimate that gives you the best product at the best price, we do not work up cost estimates on the spot. We work with various suppliers and will work hard to be sure that we order what you need at the best price. Our estimates are comprehensive and run through several checks and balances before it reaches you. Additionally, compared to high pressure home improvement companies, our profit margins are slim. We simply do not have room to miss a step by working up a quote on the fly.

S&K Roofing, Siding and Windows believe in honesty. We provide honest assessments, and give you honest pricing. An all-around No Worry experience is our goal. The next time you are in the market for an improvement to your home’s exterior, contact us for a free estimate and experience the S&K different. It will be Worry Free. Guaranteed.

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