Discussion in 'Carpet Q&A' started by Chris Sheafer, Jul 29, 2008.
Nice pics there Chris..........................
Sorry, no camera.
Mine broke and have not yet replaced it.
Just picture perfection and you will see it!
.......it aint workin, I keep seein me.......
And we wonder why nothing ever changes?
Next time go in to the retailer and take a couple buckets of glue and some tackstrip and see if he bills you for it.
Now, here is the thing, if he didn't pull out the tack strip and properly install it, someone here would say he is a hack for not doing it. While I agree he should be paid for the extra labor, in the long run he saved himself a headache in the future. So he doesn't get paid for the extra labor, but he will not have a call back...In the long run, paid for it or not, he did the right thing.
The real question becomes; Was it extra labor? Does the install price he/anyone agrees to include installing tack strip, ensuring the job is installed properly, or is everything a la carte?
Thursday I did an install, glue down carpet with a 4' pattern match that the sales person thought was a 4" pattern match. I did not have any place in the building that was over 11' wide and had 23' shots to work with (Imagine large areas with columns every 11 feet in every direction). I could have hacked off my cuts and told them they were short, instead I took the time to roll out the carpet measuring the pattern to make my cuts so I could complete the job, although I had to put 3 cross seams in a large utility closet.
Was it a collosal waste of time on my part, yes, but what was the alternative, say they were short and go home? Hack the job in and get a call back?
Here's the thing...
There was a time in my life that I would have called the store, got the customer involved and wasted a lot of time, and if I did not get my way, I would leave the job.
Unfortunately, that would generally be the last job I would do for that store.
Jumping from store to store because everything is not exactly the way I want things is no way to get my bills paid and support my helper and family.
Some here are making it appear as though it was wrong to go ahead and do it right without getting additional pay. I can tell you that the MAJORITY of installers would have left the tack strip the way it was, left all that crap on the floor and went over everything . The would have put the seam together as is and would have not bothered geting the pattern straight on crooked walls.
There were winners in this.
1) The store. No call backs on a seam complaint that did not line up right.
2) The customer. They agreed on the price originally and were expecting a quality installation and they got one.
3) Me. My pride and personal excellency's are intact.
4) My helper. He got to see first hand how doing the right thing is gratifying by the results
5) My bank account, it is bigger than it was if I had refused to do the job without more money, because things are not so good in KC right now and there are a lot of installers who would have done the job for less money let alone more.
When did it become wrong to do the right thing?
Ever heard of the phrase "do unto others as you would have them to unto you"?
Everything that happened on that job was "unforeseen".
The store definitely needs to work on informing customers on the front end about unforeseen circumstances that may incur more extra charges after the old material is removed. That's not the customers fault.
I am curious now....
Exactly what is it that each one of you would have done?
You did what an installer working for a retailer has to do. I bid my own jobs, so I don't get surprises.
Sometimes on those types of jobs when I'm faced with finishing it right or going home for the day, or losing the job altogether, I'll take a little different route. While it may not be perfect, it's better than nothing.
Say for instance I run across a rotten piece of subfloor that needs to be replaced: Once the materials are on site, I'm there working, and timeline for finishing the job has been set, when I find the problem, I call the homeowner to show them the rotten piece of subfloor. They see it for themselves, I've explained what caused the problem/why it needs to be fixed/why it wasn't noticed before. Then I tell them it will cost X amount to fix it right. I don't ever get what it's really worth, but I get something which is better than getting nothing.
The customer will almost always think they are getting a good deal, which they are, I get to finish my job without too much trouble, and I get a little more than what I originally planned. Again, it's not ideal, but it's better than working for free. The main point is that I'm not taking advantage of the customer when he is at a vulnerable time, but then again I'm not being taken advantage of either.
One of the amazing things time does to us, is we get older and learn from our mistakes, hopefully we get away from bad habits, and replace them with good habits. I am far from a perfect installer, but I can easily say I am a very good installer. Yet every job is different, would I knock out tack strip because it was improperly installed or damaged, sometimes Yes, sometimes No. It would depend on the job, Property Management apartment unit, knowing the cheap carpet will be wrecked in a year No. Residential for a store knowing it will speak to my capabilities Yes. Now, that is not a static definition on my part, meaning, it would depend entirely on the circumstances and the expected level of quality.
You wouldn't go into the ghetto, and suddenly worry about 3 layers of vinyl in a kitchen, when all they want is to make it look good enough for a section 8 rental. You would be out of a job, a Private 500k house, is a different story. We need the dose of reality, before we judge how things are done, I walked out of an apartment because I was trying to hang base and I could not deal with the roaches. At that point, they could not pay me enough to go back.
Everything is a trade off, if you are a prima donna and you can make a living doing everything perfect everytime that is great, but there are times (in my world) where it is not feasible or expected. Keep that in mind, we all want to go by the book, but sometimes, everyone else involved just wants the floor covered.
I agree with the last 2 posts 100 percent.
I also do some apartments and section 8 houseing.
I beleive I do a better job then most, but then again, I don't do my very best.
Don't get paid alot and like you said, the carpet is going to be lucky to see just a couple of years of use.
I hope that I am not coming across like I do what ever it takes every single time, far from it.
However, when it comes to regular customers homes, I pretty much give it my all.
I agree with the last three posts pretty much, but have never done any property management or section 8................. I do however love the 'installability' of some of those cheap materials. 4 times faster than stuff Iinstall here............ and funny thing is the backings are usually easier to seam, stretch and and trim.
To tell you all the truth, I would rather do those apartments and section 8 housing every single day.
When I was younger, I loved doing to hard stuff, loved the challenge.
Now, I am tired and don't have anything to prove.
I get $4.00 PSY on the cheep stuff and like you said, it is much easier to install.
The only thing about those types of installs is that they are pretty nasty places,
and the set back to that cheep carpet is... Can you say strings? I spend more time cutting off strings then I do to trim it.
Back to the Kool Glide discussion...
When I got the iron, I was only going to use it for the expensive stuff and problem seams. I did a couple of the cheep jobs just for practice purposes. The results were so much better that I have gotten rid of a whole case of K-40 that I used for the cheep stuff and intend on using the Kool Glide on every single job.
If you're locked into a situation where someone pays you one price for all carpets, then hell yeah, we all like the cheap stuff. There are potentials out there to make more money doing better goods and services for higher end clientel, if one can identify and work their way into those types of scenarios. Typically, these are not attainable through the "average" carpet store retailer outlets. In an average shop, the better guys are punished for being better by being given the more difficult jobs at the same pay as the monkeys doing cheap apartment work. I know. I've been that guy, just as many others here have, or are. You can be an above average installer and be stuck in an average situation, but those aren't the only situations out there. There are several guys here who do very little to no retailer work and set their own pricing. I think our position in the market place is limited mostly (if not only) by our own limitations in visualizing and enacting something better for ourselves.
Maybe this should be a seperate topic, but previous posts in this thread have inspired this post.
You guys didn't even try to get paid more. Why?
Because you are nothing more than beaten down installers.
You talk about pride but how does it make you feel to do stuff for free all the time?
You talk about winners but the only ones who won is the retailer and the customer.
You, your family, helper/co-worker and their familes lost.
Other installers also lost because nobody has the gonads to stand up for themselves and demand to be treated fairly.
We are our own worst enemies.
I know I come off harsh and a hard ass but I've been in your shoes, the difference is I took a stand and didn't back down.
Hard to do? You betcha.
Costly financially? It feels like it at first but after awhile you realize it is worth it.
David has talked previously about getting paid more for less volume and how that can be more profitable and easier on the body. You also take on less risk because eventually while everyone else just wants the floor covered if there is a problem you can bet they will forget all about them just wanting the floor covered.
Been there, got the T-shirt, it wasn't worth it.
That may be true, but you sure are not walking in my shoes!
I was sick for 6 months (count them 6!). I am now paying double house payments for a couple of months more (about 3 grand a month)
I have 6 children (count them 6!)
This in not the week for me to make a "stand" for you and all the installers of the world who seem to be by the way lining up at the door ready to do my work cheaper.
That being said, I am happy that you always get what you want and deserve and I hope you continue to be able to do that.
You don't ALWAYS get it but you can earn more and have more time to enjoy other things.
Timing doesn't sound good for you right now but when will it be?
How long have you been in your area?
It is hardier initially just like any new business you need to get established.
Have you tried to get your own customers?
Place ads, talk to realtors, builders, cleaners, and others involved in the construction trades.
Network, get involved in your church(sounds like Chris already is), join other community organizations( Lions, Rotary, JayCees, Chamber, Scouts, etc).
Establish some accounts with distributors and suppliers and markup your supplies, make your money work for you.
Hopefully you already have found a good accountant and talked with your banker about setting up a business account. A talk with the local attorney about setting up a business and having contract forms valid for your state can be helpful.
Just so you know I've been installing for around 20 years and am 47, have a son in college, 2 daughters, stay at home wife, mortgage, car payment, and plenty of other bills just like you. Live in a small town of 4000 mostly a rural area.
Not always easy and frustrating at times but I'm just here to tell you breaking away from retailers can be done.
Hey Scott, congratulations, now your out of touch!! Welcome to the club.
BTW: An interesting side note, on the subject of realizing higher wages, the people who have given me the most grief on this subject are the installers and the top three arguments:
1.) Your just out of touch.
2.) Not in my area
3.) If I raise my prices I'll get no work.
And as long as they believe any of the three, they are right! They can't. But then again, what can any of us do if we believe we can't?
Getting higher wages all begins the person we see in the mirror every morning. With all we know about what we do, if we don't believe we are worth more pay, why would anybody else?
While I have always strived to charge more I do have you and others on these boards to thank for giving me pointers on how to better achieve higher rates.
I've heard those same arguments from installers, retailers, and builders over the years and I agree it is mostly the installers who don't believe it.
My response was "Why am I so busy then?" They never had an answer.
I still do work for some retailers but it is almost always labor direct to the customer.
The customer buys from the retailer but requests that I do the work.
During the buildig boom in this area until the slowdown about a year ago, I had work every day, and could barely keep up. One of the biggest obstacles to getting what was a fair wage was the number of workers who were always willing to undercut everybody by 15-50%. I know that I could have held out for more money, but in the long run, I believe it would have cost me.
The two builders who gave me 80% of my work would have found someone else to do the work cheaper. It's my belief that these other workers for the most part don't pay any taxes and get by with shoddy work that will last for the year warranty, then they're in the clear. I would imagine that by the time their shoddy work comes to light, the year is over, or they're nowhere to be found. However, both of those builders have tanked, one is in bankruptcy, and the other has failed to pay me for the last job I did for him. No explanation, no "I'll pay you later", no nothing.
I realize that I could make the same money with less work by charging more, but then again I believe it's not all about money. I've made decent money, along the lines of the average pay in this area for what I do, I've helped a lot of people who really needed it. My bank account isn't running over, but there are other ways to measure success.
By the way, it's interesting to look at the five pages of this thread and see that it started with discussion about the gulley.
Yeah, I was kinda hoping a moderator would come along and split some of these off-topic posts off to their own discussion - we do have 2 distinct topics being discussed in this one thread.