There are many excellent contractors out there and many terrible ones. The same goes for clients. If you’re struggling to find the right one for your needs, it might help to study your approach.
This article will look at the most common reasons people fail to find good contractors.
Clients want fast and efficient contractors who are always available to start a project on short notice. They are usually also looking for contractors who:
· Provide great design ideas
· Provide excellent remodeling suggestions
· Are reliable, punctual, never waver from the agreed schedule
· Work with very little oversight
· Have creative solutions to problems
· Give the highest quality work
· Provide professional quotes and invoices
· Have proper licensing
· Provide insurance coverage
· Have rock bottom prices
When you consider some clients won’t compromise on any of these requirements, it becomes obvious why finding a ‘good’ contractor is challenging. If a contractor who fulfills all of them exists, it might be a good idea to run a background check on them. When something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It comes down to price vs. value. You can’t afford to go way over your budget, but you don’t want to pay so little that you’ll be left with poor quality. Ideally, look for a service provider with the right combination of qualities. Make a list of non-negotiables and stick only to those.
For instance, you don’t need someone with design ideas because you’ve already hired an interior designer.
Traditionally, people would get three bids and take the lowest. There is a problem with that approach. Bid-shopping takes time, which is something not everyone has. You end up with low quality to boot.
Contracting is a service, not a product. You get what you pay for. Usually, the lowest bid equates to the worst work quality.
At the same time, you shouldn’t overpay. The solution here is to go back to your list of non-negotiables and compare prices only for those. A contractor might have amazing qualities beyond that list, but what difference does it make? If they don’t score well in essential categories, get rid of them.
Put the quotes you get in the same order as the service you’re receiving. Discard any price that’s much more or less than the average. Low bids are suspicious because the costs for a job don’t suddenly drop. A high bid can mean higher overhead, better service, or simply overcharging.
Typically, you’ll only get a labor quote if the contractor is working on an hourly basis. The best contractors don’t offer itemized quotes. Most people don’t grasp the concept of overhead. Contractors have plenty of it: taxes, licenses, sales commission, advertising, job supervision, insurance, office expenses, accounting, insurance, etc. Overhead expenses can be more than 50% of revenue.
Then, you need to consider the company’s profit. An overhead of 20% and a profit goal of 6% will yield a markup of 26% on the job.
Contractors don’t want to give “labor-only” quotes as they have no bearing on their overhead. You might eventually get one if you push hard, but they’ll be bad with the business side of things, ultimately going out of business.
As the variables and unknowns are too many, contractors tend to overbid on some items and underbid on others when providing an itemized list. The investor will then try to defeat the contractor on prices. They can lower the overbid prices, but they can’t increase underbid ones, so they end up losing money. Itemizing out a big item is the exception, such as a price with several scenarios.
Most service providers want to make a fair wage and provide good quality work. These are both subjective concepts, leading to misaligned expectations. To ensure alignment, ask the contractor about their previous projects. They might not be a good match if they typically work in mid-level neighborhoods and yours is high-end.
Their business model should line up with your requirements. You might need a contractor with support staff and a back office if you want excellent customer service and follow-up. If you need engineering or design, look for a company with a design team or salespeople.
A small crew without additional services will be sufficient if your job is simple and no-frills.
It’s one thing to find a cheap contractor and quite another to find a good one. If finding and keeping a quality professional is hard, you might need to shift your focus. Focusing on the end price is a sure way to find poor services. Remember: good contractors have many customers and aren’t desperate for your business. Instead, focus on services and look for someone who offers them at a fair price.
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