As part one of our series on the seven keys to finding a great contractor, Archadeck of Central SC focuses on what experience means when making this important decision.
Just last night on a sales call I heard a common complaint from a customer: “I’ve had some bad luck with contractors.” We hear this a lot when we first meet customers. Prior bad experiences often create mistrust that is based on having been burned.
It’s not really bad luck – it’s more about not being thoughtful in selecting a qualified contractor. The problem is there are so many people out there saying they can do your work, but what really separates the good ones from the rest?
Here are 7 things that you should consider when selecting a contractor that will go a long way toward improving your “luck”:
- Customized Product
- Attention to Details
- Warranty & Protection
In this series of articles, we will discuss what each of these means to you and what questions to ask to ensure a good contractor experience.
Today we start with the quality of Experience. Experience is the difference between the contractor finding a problem for the first time on your job, and having to figure it out on the fly (usually a bad idea) vs. knowing in advance what problems may arise and proactively avoiding them. It’s the wisdom born from experience that gives a good contractor the courage to say “no, I can’t do that,” rather than blindly creating a mess that he leaves in your lap.
Sometimes the barrier to entry into contracting is pretty low. With a set of tools and a pickup truck, a contractor is in business and ready to take your project on. And guess what – at a great price! Be careful, you may just get more than you bargained for…
All contractors start out wanting to do a great job. The problem is that it’s not that easy. Things quite often don’t go according to plan. When things start to go bad, you really want to have an experienced contractor in your corner.
Some questions you should know the answers to before you sign a contractor on are: How many projects like yours has your contractor done? And not just the owner, but what about the organization behind him? What experience do the tradesmen doing the work have? What experience does the person managing and supervising the work have? Is there a support organization behind them providing engineering and technical guidance if they get in over their heads (it’s going to happen sometimes – so who is going to come to the rescue)? These questions go a long way toward determining the outcome of a project, even before it begins.
In addition to the technical experience needed to do the job, you should be interested in their customer service experience as well. Too often, contractors try to get in, get out, and move on to the next job – it’s necessary for their bottom line. But the ones who last, the ones who will be doing work in 5, 10 or 15 years, are the ones who know by experience that they can’t leave loose ends hanging on your job. This is the number one complaint against many contractors – they didn’t finish the punch list! Why? – because it’s hard to tie up the loose ends, and it doesn’t pay well (in the short term). But if you are dealing with an experienced contractor, you have a much better chance that he knows that leaving loose ends means leaving an unhappy customer – and leaving an unhappy customer means getting a bad reputation. The good news is that it’s easy to know what kind of contractor you have, simply by asking his customers. A good contractor should be more than willing to give you a list of the last 5 projects he did so you can check behind him.
Finally, experience means not only good technical experience and commitment to good customer service, but it also means staying power. You want a contractor who will be around – next week, next month and next year. And the best indicator of this is how long have they been around so far. According to statisticbrain.com, 55% of businesses fail within 5 years, and 71% fail within 10 years. Not only is longevity a good indicator that the contractor has been doing the right things for customers that have kept him in business, but it also means that the chances of him being around if you have a problem a year or two later are much higher than if he is new to the business.
So when selecting a contractor, ask the hard questions about experience. It’s something that fast-talking fly-by-night contractors cannot answer well. It’s something that a flashy new business plan cannot provide. It’s the difference between “I know I can do your project because I’ve been doing it for 10 years” and “trust me.” Which one do you want to rely on?
Our knowledge and experience in outdoor structure building and design over the years can ensure a space that not only meets but exceeds your expectations. Call Archadeck of Central SC today for a free design consultation (803) 603 – 2160
Please visit our extensive outdoor structure galleries located on our website for more examples of our lovely designs.