Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A question for the small contractors out there. Like many growing communities, the town where I work / reside is now within moderate driving distance of large do-it-yourself retail stores (you know the ones). The problem I am having is with materials / customers.
I work strictly by an hourly basis providing materials as a part of the job, but with no or very little markup (rounding off). The local suppliers are approximately 3 - 10% higher than the mega dealers, and that is where the question comes arises from.
Does anyone have a good way to tell customers that although in some instances they can purchase items cheaper than the contractor, it is not worth my time to shop for them or that I cannot warranty items purchased by them. A new store will be moving into our town very soon, and it may become a major problem. Thank you - Brennan
 

·
Back from the dead...
Joined
·
6,646 Posts
This is a very good question. We in the NGPP have been talking about this for a couple of years now. The 'big box store' has virtually eliminated the mom & pop wallpaper stores that were feeding many of us alot of work. This also ties in to the fact the Wallcovering Assoc. got greedy several years back and started in on this 'Easy to hang, DIY' mentality that has in the end brought the wallpaper manufacturers to its knees.

As for how to deal with it on a customer stand point, I prefer to provide all materials for the job. If the customer chooses their own materials, such as paint, I make them sign off on a 'no guarantee of finished product' type disclaimer. And if they ask, 'where should I go and look for and get....' I tell them go to a paint or wallpaper store, not a discount store. The knowledge of the products and superior service of these smaller shops usually change the consumers mind about where to get their products. This works especially well if they have been burned before by salesman that didn't no a darn thing about their products, or just plain couldn't find someone knowledgable to help them at all. These are billion dollar corporations, I don't lose any sleep telling people to avoid them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Personally I like the large mega home depots and lowes around. Why?! Because they charge so much I can raise my price and still be in the ball pack. I no longer have to low ball.

Sure it's harder and this is what is known on the discovery channel as selective nature or "let the strong survive". If you've lost business to them as we all have, find more ways to find new customers.

Here is how to defeat the big home depot sales guys. Explain that you are a (your trade here) not a sales man. Also home depot and lowes type stores use professional closers to sell, they dont use trades men to sell so the guys have a limited knowledge. It has been my experience that if the job wasn't sold at day 1 it's not going to the mega store. Many of the mega stores don't even do call backs, or they have some teenager call offering 5% if you sign up today. You need to make them believe you are more than a salesman and you are a (your trade here).
 

·
Back from the dead...
Joined
·
6,646 Posts
Grumpy, you right on with that. I would go up against a box store's salesman anyday, I don't think I've lost any business to them at all in the service end.

I was mainly talking about the materials end above, actual products they purchase there, not the services.

Grumpy, would your company do a job for a customer, labor only, after they said they want you to do the work, but they bought all the materials at lowes or HD? Especially if the product (shingle, paint, whatever) is a product you know is inferior, but getting alot of press from the big box marketing machine? Just curious.
 

·
Flooring Guru
Joined
·
2,794 Posts
I bet I can answer for Grump.

NOOOOOOOO!

In fact, I bet Grump deals with higher end clients that are not HD shoppers.
I do too. HD is not a competitor, cause it's soo easy to "survivor" em, outwit, outsell, outlast :)

If I was a flooring installer, and a client wanted some HD crud istalled, and I knew it was inferior, I would have to make sure there was a clause in the contract stating that failures in the floor due to install may be my fault, but failures due to inferior product is not. And sometimes that convincing is not worth it, cause theres a high end customer standing in line waiting for your material AND labor business.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Pro, we have and will do labor only jobs. I then inform the customer that we charge more for labor only jobs because if this is the first time they have managed a project like this I can guarantee they will forget something that we will then need to procure. I also make the customer write out our materials list so I know what is left for us to supply. They always forget he nails and caulk.

If the product is inferior I tell them, X product is better for the same price or a reaonale upcharge. I then ask them why they decided on the product they purchased. That doesnt happen often, and to be honest the GAF shingles Home depot sells are quality shingles. It's the crap GAF underlayments I dislike. If they insist on their products I usually lower my warranty from the typical ten years down to 5 years... so it's really the customer that loses out.

Also I've found that typically the customer that wants to manage his own job and thinks he can get a cheaper price than I can is foolish and these are the kinds of customers that become problems because they <i>think</i> they know what they are doing and how things should be done, but usually have no clue. We are asked only a few times a year to do labor only and like I said we jack up the price and decrease the warranty.
 

·
Back from the dead...
Joined
·
6,646 Posts
Yeah, I'm in line with that thinking also. When the customer decides to provide materials, they always forget the basics. Plastic, razor blades, rags, tape, whatever.

I too jack up the charge, mainly because painting with crap paint or hanging goods with cheap adhesive just plain takes longer to make look good.

And the warranty is out the window.
 

·
Flooring Guru
Joined
·
2,794 Posts
Jeeesh Grump, you are ON THE MONEY!
great points, I woulda never thought about misc supplies charge.
 
G

·
Thanks Gentlemen for the intelligent responses, it is very frustrating to have this come up (more and more it seems). And yes, I have been asked to install inferior equipment - and have to my detriment (melted the main bus out of a 100 amp panel in a small home - dangerous!). Lately I have been simply refusing work where home owner or businessmen want to provide their own. The arguements don't seem to be worth it.

Thanks again - Brennan
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top