What am I doing wrong?
A recent refinance has put cash in my pocket which I plan to use on several
home improvement projects- new roof, pool refinish, some outdoor room
I contact what looks to be a decent company in the Yellow Pages- I am
careful not to call anyone too far away, I look for years in the biz,
license/insurance info, an ad not too large not too small, maybe a trade
I call three carefully chosen contractors and speak with an answering
service who takes name and number etc. and promises to either have someone
return the call or sets a day for an estimate.
I never get called back, and no one ever shows up to give me an estimate.
I call again- lather, rinse, repeat.
And so on.
Why would someone pay good money to advertise if they don't want to work?
How can I get someone to actually show up?
I am not price shopping per se but need to get a feel for a company by
speaking with a representative.
I realize that giving estimates is an aggravating endeavor with little
financial return, but this is the way it works, no?
So shouldn't they at least say "we're booked call someone else"?
I'd assume that different parts of the US are better/worse in this regard
and that my area (South Florida) is one of the worst.
But I don't have the time to drive around looking for contractors on other
jobs, and don't have many people to ask for referrals.
Is there a magic word?
Any online referral sites that screen participants?
Giving bids - detailed, on paper, signed, etc., is part of legitimate
contracting business. Even a one-person operation can buy some printed
forms (or Xerox some) and write out a decent bid. No reason not to
You must have neighbors - talk to them. There have to be pools and
screen rooms all over the place. Look for trucks in the neighborhood,
and stop in for a chat with the owner. If you don't know your
neighbors, it's time - ask 'em over for a cook-out :o)
The size of an ad in the yellow pages is not a guage of quality of work.
A sign they have money to spend.
Magic word (for me) is check work the contractor has done for somebody
you know. A good use for neighbors (otherwise generally useless :o)
Have an idea of the product you want (shingles, etc), and features of
the project; talking to an informed homeowner will, likely, get a tad
more respect from the contractor. It isn't his job to educate you, but
his expertise should help you make informed choices. Many contractors
in my area, especially small ops that work outdoors, are not availble
during the day - they are out working. Larger ones, large enough to
have a real office, are more immediately accessible. Roofing and paint
companies have contractor referrals, and some have certification for
contractors. If you have unusual conditions try to find out what
special implications they have in advance.
Good contractors are busy, and booked.This time of year they are
scrambling to finish projects before winter sets in. They dont mean to
be rude by not returning your call, and probably will. The guy you have
to worry about is the one out of work. Keep calling, but understand
this is the busiest time of year. Everyone is doing things they have put
off all summer.
Not that you are doing anything wrong but the best way is (as mentioned
here) to get the name of some one that has worked for a neighbor/relative
etc. and you liked their work. I am a contractor I return calls from new
clients only if they mention the name of an existing client or job. (I don't
bother advertising) I find word of mouth the best way to do business. I
don't waste a lot of time of giving bids to people that just want a price to
compare with others so they can get the best price. I don't ever get those
jobs. I sell my work on references and quality not price. So a "cold" call
asking for a quote goes unanswered.
I know, guy like you never runs out of work.
I agree, word of mouth and check with BBB. If anyone asks large sum of
money up front, stay away. Don't go for the best quote, go for the
quality of work.(the difference in cost is not BIG).
And put everything in writing. I am lucky. I happen to have a friend who
is contractor. I can do things with shake of hands with him. never let
me down. He just finished gazebo in my backyard. 110% satisfied. Now he
is working on a recessed wall closet in my kids' condo. for more storage
Yeah, but... These people advertise, they drop flyers in the mailbox
and leave business cards in the door. The assumption is that they
*want* work -- why should one have to track them like homicide
detective and snare them at a watering hole?
BTW, for the OP, this is also true in Virginia and California. I'm
*still* trying to get a tree removed from my roof a month after a
written proposal was accepted, and part of the work done and paid for.
I'd taken to calling (leaving a msg) every day. No calls returned; no
appearances. Since the fellow lives a block away, when I called
yesterday, I said I'd be at his house in an hour or 2. Got a callback
within 5 minutes.
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