Today's post is a bit of vent... No pictures, just a rag about the sales process in the remodeling industry which are a mystery to a corporate guy like me who spends most of my working life around customer service and sales and marketing types.
Today I had an interesting conversation with the concrete guy, who's company is excellent with a great reputation and a successful business that's been around for 20+ years. In fact the did work for us when we did our first This Old House project on Poplar and did great work.
A little background will help to understand this post. The concrete guys are nearly done forming and getting the rebar all set up and we had a couple of changes, pretty normal, 'eh. And these guys have been great about working through these minor changes, I mean really good. In fact, I hope I can find a carpenter who's as good as these guys.
So first Steve tells me 'We've had a couple of changes and I owe you a credit'. Then he tells me 'we'll need to bring in some more dirt so I'm going to have to charge you some more'. Ok, pretty reasonable and then he says ' I should be doing change orders for all of this, but....'. I say, that's fine, no problem. After all, we IT guys say the same thing and rarely do we do change orders religiously so who the hell am I to complain, besides I trust the guy. Somehow this leads to a conversation about my progress on selecting a general contractor.
At this point I decide to have a conversation about contractors and their sales practices.
So I tell Steve that I'm amazed at how shitty his industry is at follow up and communications and what I consider simple manners, like returning calls. I recount my experience with a contractor referred to me by a friend who showed up on time, was really nice, gave me some good suggestions, set a date for submitting an estimate and all was good. Then I never heard from him again. No responses to my emails, no answer on his phone, no return messages to voicemails, nothing. It was like the guy died ( I sure hope not), he simply stopped communicating. And he wasn't the only one, it seems like the exception is the guy who : 1) calls back 2) follows up 3) does it in a reasonable time.
Well Steve kind of smiles in an embarrassing way and essentially says 'that's kinda how we work'.
We chat about it and I go back to my desk and decide to follow up with three contractors who I've spoken to in the last two weeks about bidding on the job. Here's what followed :
1) I send an email to a guy who has the blue prints for two weeks but has never scheduled a face to face. I ask him 'Matt are you interested' . A couple of hours later he sends me a response (which is encouraging) and says 'Tom, I'm interested but I'm getting married this weekend and am slammed with wedding stuff and can't estimate your job till next week at best' Interesting response, I wonder what would have happened if I didn't follow up.
2) I send an email to a guy who was out here last Friday and he sends me an email back in 10 minutes with 'I'm track for an estimate next week' , which was his original committment. He goes to the top of the list simply because he's executing and followed up quickly.
3) I send an email to another guy who was out here last Friday who told me ' I REALLY want your job, this would be a big deal for me, I will give it all my attention ' and guess what. You're right, haven't boo from him as of 8:00 tonight.
Contractor rant over, stay tuned for who gets our money.