What are the top three things you think need to change about the home improvement industry as it is today? What roll can service professionals like yourself or sites like TrustedPros play in changing them and why?
1. Continue to educate customer members on the real world of home improvement costs, quality, and process. TV shows have caused viewers to have an unrealistic perspective of renovations and home improvements.
2. Honestly don't know if you do already, but maybe post average project costs on the site.
3. The industry could change by the government implementing a tax exemption for certain projects over a certain amount to make it more attractive to hire professionals instead of under-the-table unprofessionals.
Thanks for asking.
I think Michael at Hunter Home has given a decent response. #1 and #3 definitely.
I will preface my suggestion with a comment first.
There are a small number of Con artists that call themselves contractors, and there are also contractors that simply lack experience in some area's. There are also a very small number of home owners or clients that are also untrustworthy. In all my years I have had the misfortune of having one client who was most assuredly a con artist, but only one. The rest of my clients have been great.
Now here is my suggestion, and I know for legal reasons it can't be done. But I wish it could.
A site that lists contractors that have many complaints against them. A site that the general public was aware of. Now contractors would only be listed if there were multiple complaints and there was a follow from the site to check the validity of these complaints.
But life would be more relaxed for the consumer, and for we, contractors that do very good work and are upfront and honest.
I think there needs to be stiffer penalties for scam contractors who steal cheat or lie about their skills. Here in calgary I hear of it way to much. And I was the grunt of one of these scam companies. The guy owes over 100 grand in employee wages and sub trade wages... but yet there is nothing done. Started a new company in the edmonton area and living the high life.
If someone doesn't pay for child support, and or fails to pay driving fines. How is that so much worse than a contractor stealing from a client, or not paying wages to a single parent who needs to feed his kids. The gov needs to step in and make some policy and make it stiff. Keep the good guys honest and the scams to afraid to even work for fear of the penalties they may face.
And I totally agree with michaels post... have realistic costs. These tv shows out there are killing the trade. I came from PEI where costs are way different, if i was to quote everything based on that I would have so much work for the next 20 years.... but would be broke in 2 weeks. So things need realistic costs in your area for sure.
Another thing needs to change is anything to do with a building development or permit whatsoever you should need to have a license, to many home owner contractors "think" they know what they are doing, then I get the call to come bail them out of an issue they shouldn't have had any right even doing in the first place.
Why do electricians and plumbers and such need to have a license to perform work and pull permits but nothing to do with structure. So my saying goes...... the house can fall down around you but as long as the electrical and plumbing is still standing it is ok. Just my thoughts on this topic...
I think the high expectations trend was started by "Holmes on Homes".
That idiotic show never ever mentioned how many decent contractors wasted their time and fuel doing realistic estimates only to loose the bid to a fly by night that came lower by $50.
On top of that, as if it was raining money Mike Holmes would throw in tens of thousands worth of freebies and do it all in a blink of an eye.
How many of us decent guys had to drive to 3-6 stores in a day looking for a sale on tiles or a discontinued faucet, an end of the roll piece of carpet just so we can work with a client's budget?
Sure, give us sponsors and an unlimited budget and we too could build the Taj Mahal. Or the pyramids. Overnight.
But in the real world our bids have a 5-10% acceptance rate and the price is always the determining factor.
We have to deal with budget, skeptical clients and trying to sell an idea as most clients can't visualize what they want vs what we KNOW they should have.
On top of that, we're invading their privacy, we're disrupting their lives, we're the reason their home turns into a warzone for the duration of the project. Our clients love us months or years after our work is done but very few if any have offered a simple glass of water while entrusting me with their lives biggest investment.
#1 in Michael's response is a very good start. We all need to educate clients to understand realistic budgets. I could not agree more that many of the home improvement shows create a false impression of legitimate costs. I have seen some of the "so called" budgets for these home improvements and after doing a couple of projects at those prices, I would be out of business.
2. We need to start treating the sales process as an integral part of the business and take the same care that we do with the design, supply and building phase. Sales skills can be improved like any other skill and if the sales process is approached in a professional manner, it helps overcome (not eliminate) the issue of the client making all decisions based on the price. There are step by step processes used in the building of a home, the same thing applies to the process of selling.
3. As a group, we need to create brand awareness of the importance of the home improvement industry (with government for tax purposes), with vendors (to provide better pricing and services) and most importantly with the general pubic. Too many customers and potential customers have a bad impression of the home improvement industry and think that many contractors sole purpose is to rip them off or do bad work. This does happen occasionally (as it does in any business), however most contractors are business people out to provide a valuable service at a fair price and make a profit.
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