Discussion: VALUE - Where is it Found in Installation

Discussion in 'Article Discussion Forum' started by Jim McClain, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

    This thread is for the discussion of the article, VALUE - Where is it Found in Installation, by Lea MacDonald. You can also rate the article by selecting an option in the Rate Thread drop-down near the top of this discussion.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2006
  2. Bill Vincent

    Bill Vincent Charter Member

    Just a couple of comments.

    I've got a good and valid answer to that. There's not a one of us who've never screwed up, somewhere along the line. Moreover, there's not a one of us who can say they've never had circumstances beyond our control screw up one of our installations. The difference between a top rated installer and a fly by night is what he DOES about these problems. A good installer will go back and make good on the installation. He'll WANT to go back, if for no other reason, to keep his reputation intact. A shoemaker won't give a damn, and will make every excuse he can come up with as to why he shouldn't have to fix it, and why the homeowner should just accept it and learn to live with it. THAT'S the difference between a fly by night and a professional.

    My other comment is that this article is about something I've tried to impress time and time again on installers in forums across the net-- SELL YOUR QUALITY!! I can't count the number of times I've been asked "How the hell are we supposed to compete with people selling work for half the price?" My answer has always been the same, and I'll probably tell it dozens of times more before I'm horizontal-- SELL YOUR QUALITY.

    THAT'S what people want, and THAT'S what people are willing to pay for. Many times I've heard complaints about the homeowner looking over the installer's shoulder, asking about what's being done. Does it steal time from your work? Yes. However, if you take the time to explain what you're doing, you're actually comforting the customer in that you're letting them know not only what you're doing, but WHY it's necessary to the success of the installation, and more times than not, that BY ITSELF, will get you alot more work. Same when you go to initially meet the customer. Don't be afraid to explain everything out. If they have questions about the validity of what you're telling them, send them to another source, so they can get 3rd party verification. I can't tell you how many times I've sent people into the forums to verify something I've told them when they question it. Matter of fact, almost every customer I talk to now gets my business card with several forums (including this one now :) ) written on the back so they can find out for themselves how everything should work. This works in everyone's benefit two ways. First, they feel more comfortable that you're dealing straight with them, and if they have a question about your methods, they can get verification. Secondly, they can find out for themselves what you're putting into their installation, and get more of an idea of why your price is so much more than Joe Schmoe up the street. I've found even in my own area that MOST people don't mind paying more for an installation, so long as they know they're getting value for their dollar. There will always be people who are all about the bottom line, and I'd rather not do their installation, anyway, because they're going to want it fast and cheap, and it's going to do nothing but haunt me, so I'll let them get it fast and cheap from Joe. Now, there are those who might look at this as a prima donna attitude, but let me tell you-- I'm one of the most expensive installers in my area. As I've told most I talk to-- I'm easy, but I ain't cheap! :D However, you'll see alot of the guys charging literally HALF the rate I charge, sitting home LONG before I am-- BECAUSE i SELL MY QUALIT!!!

    Trust me when I tell you this-- it works!!

    So long as you follow through and GIVE them your quality!!

    Great article, Lea. :)
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2006
  3. Bill Vincent

    Bill Vincent Charter Member

    What happened to Lea's replies??

    Lea-- email me, and I'll answer your last reply.
  4. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

  5. Bill Vincent

    Bill Vincent Charter Member

    Thank you, sir!! :)
  6. Chris Mha

    Chris Mha Charter Member Senior Member

    Good post Bill. Right on the money. We are only human beings. Mistakes happen. You have a bad day. I don't care how good you are it will likely happen some day. If it doesn't great. In 28 years of installing I replaced two vinyl jobs. That was several years ago. The first I chose the wrong size trowel and applied too much adhesive. The second I miscut during layout. Consumer did not want a seam in her what would have been a seamless kitchen. I did not argue. Fortunately it was a smallish kitchen. Customer satisfaction is number one. To this day I still get work from both of these customers. I find in our market here in Detroit, for the most part, people will pay for quality. Although nowadays people are pinching pennies. I market is very slow now and has been for a couple of years.
  7. Bill Vincent

    Bill Vincent Charter Member

    The market here is just beginning to slow down, but I'm finding that by sticking to my guns and demanding top price, it's also culling out alot of the problem clients. Today is the perfect case in point. THis guy is a contractor that we've done 3 houses for. Last fall, we STARTED his own house. I emphasize "started" because it's STILL not complete. This guy has changed his mind about what he wants so many times that I've lost track. I was doing his master bathroom, and after changing his mind on the wall tile in his shower FOUR TIMES, he finally decided on a tile, so I went in and began installing it. I spent two days getting this huge shower (6'x7'x9' high) 3/4 of the way done, and all of the sudden, after seeing the tile getting installed the day before, now it's the wrong tile!! I stayed until 7 pm on a friday, pulling the tiles off the wall, and trying to clean the durock enough to save it. Next, he sees a backsplash I did for the showroom owner, and he wants one just like it. I gave him a price on it, and now this moron has to sit there for almost 3 hours arguing why this is WAY too much money, and it didn't matter that I was sitting there telling him that it wasn't necessary to do the backsplash, or that he could get someone else to do it. No, he wanted ME to do it, for about a THIRD of what it was worth!! If you go to the DIY section, to the backsplash thread, check out the one I've got over there with the yellow granite with the diamonds and stripes inlaid. He wanted that for 400.00. Now, about three weeks ago, he decided he wanted to change the floor tile in his master bathroom. SO I went in, ripped up the floor, put down all new cement board, went to start setting the tile (which HE was supplying this time), and it's no where to be found. I call, and get "Oh yeah-- it'll be in the end of next week." So now, here I am, waiting. The tile came in last friday, and I went back yesterday to set it. I get in there, and now, he's got rectified porcelain, and wants it set for ceramic prices. "After all, it IS ceramic!" Again, this jerk is a contractor!! I refused to do it for the ceramic price. I told him it gets set like stone, it gets priced like stone. Now, he's decided he can do better, going to someone else. God bless him, if he can find someone who knows what he's doing to install it for the price he wants.

    So, the short version is I lost the job. I also lost all the aggravation. Instead, I've got a customer I start work for tomorrow that wants their tile done in desgin, and KNOW that what he's asking for isn't run of the mill, and is MORE than prepared to pay for it. I don't think I was the loser in this battle. REgardless of the fact that the market is starting to soften, the people who want the work done, will want the quality, so they know they're not throwing their money away as times get tighter. They want the job done ONCE, and done RIGHT, and they're willing to pay for it. The people who aren't, just like when things were running hard and heavy-- you don't want the job, anyway. It does you no good if you do the work, and then eat up every bit of profit and then some by having to go back time and time again, just because the owner is trying to put off having to pay you.
  8. Chris Mha

    Chris Mha Charter Member Senior Member

    That contractor sounds like a real winner. It sounds like you showed a lot a patience. I am a very patient man but there are limits with people like this. Good job sticking to your guns. Price goes up even higher when he wants you to come in and fix the other guys screw ups.
  9. Bill Vincent

    Bill Vincent Charter Member

    Been there, done that, too. :) In addition, I told the guy at the showroom that when this clown finds out that he can't find a better price and calls back, the price just went up ANOTHER 2.00 a foot. Call it an aggravation charge. :)
  10. Lea MacDonald

    Lea MacDonald Charter Member Published

    I thought I was the only guy that ever charged an aggravation charge. It heartens me to know that there are still tradesmen around who are not afraid to have people pay for their transgressions.

    What generally happens to me is the customer goes and shops price then finds my price to be a bit high. They then get the discount artist to do the work and I get a call to go and inspect the accident scene. Just having me show up costs them one hundred bucks --- then the real bleeding starts. It's kind of like the old Fram oil filter commercial: "You can pay me now or pay me later."
  11. Bill Vincent

    Bill Vincent Charter Member

    That's one of my favorite lines!! LMAO

    As for cleaning up someone else's mess on a job I bid, My charge is so outrageous that usually they'll tell me to take a hike. However, one person DID pay it, and I've even gotten more work at his house since! :)
  12. Jerry LA Tile

    Jerry LA Tile Charter Member

    Great article and great thread!:good: I just hope as a new guy that I can maintain that kind of posture when out bidding jobs. I WILL be doing it right, but I have minimal experience. I know and am learning the standards of laying tile and will NOT be a hack from day one. I really appreciate your deffiniton of a hack Bill.

    That right there assures me I can be a top rate installer.;)
    Man I really appreciate all these artices on the floor buisness.:coffee:

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