To charge, or not to charge. That is the question.

Discussion in 'Flooring Potpourri' started by Jim McClain, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I sometimes won't charge for a small repair or minor patch. For instance, the flakes of wood in OSB are usually pretty thin and you would have to be extremely sensitive to feel the void left by one under a pad and carpet. However, it is possible to have a gouge or some accident that took out a thick enough area to feel the difference. In this case, I would think the installer should be prepared to fix this with a little floor patch. I've had to do it before and it's not a big deal. I also find plywood subfloors that have a similar problem. Floor patch is one of those things I always have with me and it's never taken so much time and patching compound that I felt I had to charge extra for it. I did an estimate once where the subfloor was in pretty bad shape and needed considerable preperation before carpet would be ready to install. I added a little extra in to cover it, submitted the proposal and got the job only because no one else even mentioned the condition of the subfloor when he asked them about it later. I guess he wanted someone who would pay attention to details. :D


    Last edited: Sep 5, 2006
  2. stullis

    stullis Charter Member Senior Member

    Re: what is supposed to be under my carpet?

    I have seen carpet guys go right over stuff they should not have.
    The subfloor should be flat, level and clean with no voids or ridges. If there are repairs needed the installer should be compensated for the time and materials required to properly do the job.

    Sorry Jim, there are no freebies. It is the freebie mentality that leads to installers trying to get by without doing proper prep work.

    As far as repairing your job, it needs to be decided up front who pays for the repair depending on what is found. Contact whomever you contracted to to do the installation and whomever sold you the materials and go from there. Perhaps even the person who may have damaged the floor or was supposed to have the jobsite ready for the installer. Until everyone is held accountable for their actions nothing will improve in this industry.

    Might be the wrong forum for the rant Jim BUT consumers need to know the games that are played by all parties involved and hold ALL of them accountable and perhaps even themselves.
  3. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Re: what is supposed to be under my carpet?

    I don't see anything wrong with your post, Scott. Well, maybe with the exception of you not reading this part:
    I merely said I had never had an instance that was worthy of a charge. I don't feel like charging my customers for only a few minutes extra time -- all in the name of Public Relations. However, as I also stated, I have and always encourage others to bid for the work they do. I never leave a job without being fairly compensated for my efforts. Those few times that I have given work away "free" have always turned into an excellent return on my investment. The best example is the time I fixed a small bubble a customer said was there right after I finished the job -- 17 years ago. I fixed it for free and shortly after that her neighbor called and that became a $3500.00 job based on my customer service skills.

    I do agree in this case the responsibility lies with either the flooring dealer/installer or the home builder. Work backward until you find the party that will make it right.

  4. stullis

    stullis Charter Member Senior Member

    Re: what is supposed to be under my carpet?

    You as the business owner have that right to not charge Jim, it does set a bad precedence though. You do it, so now the retailer is expected to do it and then he shoves it down the installers throat. Installer gets po'd about all the extras that are "expected" for free and instead of pointing them out to the retailer or homeowner because they have constantly not been compensated for prep work they just cover it up colloect their measly check and run to the next job, meanwhile the consumer notices something and just lives with it even though it bugs them or possibly their flooring doesn't perform as it should and then the customer ends up replacing the flooring before they should or they just live with it longer because "hey I'll probably get a crappy job again" when all this could have been avoided by just paying the probably small prep fee. Are you still with me. LOL :D
  5. Danny Ferguson

    Danny Ferguson Abbey Carpet & Floor Charter Member

    I don't know about the retailers in your area, but none of them hold a gun to a installers head here, and make them do something for nothing. Yes, there are unscrupulous retailers here that try to nickle and dime you to death and have no loyality to you, and threaten you with no work. But hey, there are twelve more stores in town. Surley if you are a true pro that does quality work, someone is going to grab you and not let you go, and compensate you well for it.
  6. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Re: what is supposed to be under my carpet?

    First, just so no one is confused, this thread began life as several replies to a consumer with questions about a small void under his carpet. It has evolved into a discussion about whether to charge or not charge for minor repairs or patching compound (or whatever extra work is involved in the original project.

    Scott, yes, as the business owner, I can make the decision whether or not to charge a customer for the extra work. But I am also the retailer. The job starts with me and stays with me. I have (had) employees that do the work I assign them to do and they get paid by the hour. They have done nothing for free. The only precedence I am setting, if at all, is that some business owners may see an opportunity to improve their customer service or public relations by doing something for nothing more than the "word-of-mouth" advertising it may generate.

    Although it may be true that there are unscrupulous retailers or workshop owners, they aren't all like that. Not all installers are forced to do work without pay and I would never suggest to anyone that they should be. I believe in fair and equitable pay, proper compensation. That is why I am in business for myself and pick and choose what to charge and when. It is also not my job to charge for every little nickel and dime thing just so that all the installers in the world will be assured they will never have to do anything for free.

    I do what I can to support good business practices. But I haven't set that good an example over the years because there are somethings I have not done that I should do -- like be a licensed contractor in a state that requires it. That's old news and I continue to regret my past, but for the here and now, I advocate education of not only the installer, but of the retailer and every other segment of this industry. God knows we could all use a little learnin' once in a while.

    The issue you have is a very important one, to be sure. But it seems misguided to think a business should charge for everything you would charge for. Where is the independence in that? Why don't we all just work for you, or some huge conglomerate, or even a union, so that we can be sure we will never have a single moment of being under-compensated for the minutes and hours we spend on the job.

    I am in business for myself because I want to make the decisions that guide my future. And believe it or not, money is not the carrot in front of me. Yes, I want to be fairly paid and I do not want someone telling me they don't pay for that, or we'll make it up to you later, or take the good with the bad. So I don't. By the same token, I do not expect you or anyone else to conduct their business to my standards. How I am compensated is my responsibility. How you are compensated is yours.

    You and I are both here because we want to help our own. We can discuss topics concerning our industry until we are blue in the face, but it all boils down to the decisions we make for ourselves and our businesses. What I do here in Quincy, California is maybe not what you would do in your town or city. What your competition does in your locale to effect your business is not my responsibility to counteract all the way over here. I will gladly help you find the solutions to the dilemma you may have in compensation, but they may not be the solutions to my business problems. In fact, charging for every little thing you think I should charge for may adversely effect my business here. Then what do we do? I know, that's not your problem.

    I'm glad this topic got split off and we could discuss this issue here in the privacy of The Professional Forums. This is the kind of thing the public doesn't need to see and it is the kind of thing we, as professionals, need to talk about. I am still with you, Scott, and very happy to be too. :D

  7. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Amazing that Danny and I used some of the same terms and train of thought. I was composing my too long reply when Danny posted his. :D
  8. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    My pricing philosophy for flooring may be a bit different then some, but maybe worth noting for this thread. I've been installing floor covering long enough to know how much I time I "normally" spend prepping floors. This amount in included in my per foot price, and I refer to it as nominal prep. If I have a situation that warrants prep time over and above, what I've already been prepared to do, I either discuss it with the homeowner, or call the shop to let them discuss it. If I have sold the job, there has already been a discussion about the issue of prep, and what I will charge, if I have to do more then agreed upon. If the shop has sold the job, I'm never quite sure what has been discussed, so, thats why they can have the discussion. I discuss the same issue with any shop i work for, and let them know that I EXPECT TO GET PAID, for the work I perform. The first time they don't pay, is the last day I install for them. As a licensed contractor, I have the right to fill mechanics lein's against the homeowners property. Only once have I had to go so far as to file the pre lein.
    So for me, the bottom line is to have had an open channel of communication in regards to these certain expectations, before they occur, at the right time, and right place.
  9. Jerry Thomas

    Jerry Thomas Charter Member Senior Member

    I see both sides of this equation. I am an independent who has never worked for a retailer "yet". When i work up an estimate there are certain things I include as basic subfloor prep which I make sure to spell out on the estimate. That is in my price. If I discover more prep work is needed I get my Polaroid camera and take a few pictures and leave them so the client will see what I ran into (most times they are at work).

    Anytime I pull that camera out means I should be billing "extra". Too many times I don't though because I am stupid and know that some clients are already over budget so I just fix it for good relations. I am a terrible business person for sure.
  10. Darol Wester

    Darol Wester Charter Member Senior Member

    I resemble that Jerry. In the small, rural community I live in, I know most of my customers and have for up to 35 years and have worked in their house several times. If I get a call about something I can do in a few minutes on my way home, I won't charge them. If I have to leave home just to go there or it starts to get involved, I will.

    Not a good business habit?? Some places I guess but around here it's just plain ol good relations and folks appreciate it.
  11. Jerry Thomas

    Jerry Thomas Charter Member Senior Member

    Yes it is good relations and folks appreciate it , but that don't feed my family or pay the bills. I seriously need to improve on this, after all what I am giving away is pure profit off my bottom line. I shudder to think how much free things I have done for clients in the past. I should make that my goal for this year.

    Scott has the right mentality on this, but i am sorely lacking.
  12. Darol Wester

    Darol Wester Charter Member Senior Member

    I guess it depends on how many freebies one is handing out. With me it happens so seldom that it's not something that will make me or break me.
  13. tony lamar

    tony lamar Charter Member

    While I believe in being compensated for my work, I also know that people usually respond positively to a person who exudes genuine good will. Most of these"freebies" that I do, take only a few minutes and often can create such an impression as to make them a customer for life who also highly recommends you to other potential customers. Would I lose anything there? I have taken home a piece of trim and refinished it in 20-30 minutes and made a good relationship. I have kicked in a 8 dollar threshold on a 1500 dollar job (two days) to a lady who had to kick the bottom of her door to get it to open. Do you think I lost money?
  14. Lo Down

    Lo Down Old as dirt member Charter Member Senior Member

    Depends on how much time the freebie takes to do. I am way to nice. My customers adore me, so charging extra to fill a hole that takes me 5 minutes would make me look like an ass......... I mean, like what would you put on the bill?
    Filler..... $ .39
    additional prep.... $3
    I mean, if you are already charging $150 for the work, adding on such a trivial amount is just silly and won't help your reputation any .......... not in a small town anyway.
  15. Lo Down

    Lo Down Old as dirt member Charter Member Senior Member

    If I knew you were going to post Tony, I would have just let you say it.......... and I could have simply quoted you then added.......... "what Tony said": D
    Little freebies are cheap advertising.
  16. Tandy Reeves

    Tandy Reeves Resting In Peace Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    As I have read these posts, your comments vary but basicaly say the same thing. You know to do something sometimes for free just because it is the right thing to do is what seperates kindness from greed.

    You know sometimes the smile, the pat on the back or the thank you is all the pay we need. You must admit it makes you feel good.

    All of us have done pro bono work in the past and none of us are the worse from having done it.
  17. Jerry Thomas

    Jerry Thomas Charter Member Senior Member

    Well said Tandy.

    My customers love me too Mr LoDown. Like you, I take extremely good care of them from start to finish and my next jobs come from doing that. It's just the way I am put together. It may sound silly but my character and good reputation is something money cannot buy. I sleep pretty well too.
  18. David Hunt

    David Hunt Charter Member Senior Member Published

    Compensation comes in many forms. Some are tangible, some are not. Payment in dollars and cents is but one form.

    What must be realized is, does our business have the resources {e.g. cash flow} to defer the immediate payment of a specified dollar amount to invest the services rendered in to an intangible, long term, account with no guarantees or limits of return.

    It seems to this business owner, the question is not about 'if' this is a wise practice more than it is 'when' this practice should be implemented. What consitiutes a 'no charge' situtation and does our cash flow permit it?

    Good topic! {{and I like the professional only nature of these forums for topics just like this. Thanks FloorPro for your fore thought in designing this site! :)

  19. tony lamar

    tony lamar Charter Member

    Amen! Brother Tappet!

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