Why do home improvement contractors have a worse reputation than used car salesman?

Do you know anyone who has had a nightmare contractor experience? Maybe yourself, a friend, relative or neighbor? Since 2001 according to statistics provided by the Federal Trade Commission and various consumer protection groups home improvement contractors and the remodeling industry are responsible for the most complaints from consumers. Home improvement contractors are responsible for more complaints than used car salesman and mortgage brokers.
In a recent survey by Qualified Remodeler Magazine hundreds of homeowners surveyed said that they would never refer or use their contractor again. The most common complaints were poor communication, poor craftsmanship, delayed projects, dirty jobs, unmet expectations.
Can you blame the homeowner for not trusting the contractor? Of course not.

I have been a Design/build remodeling expert for 15 years and I have lost count of the amount of homeowners I met who have been the victim of a poor contracting job. As I prepare to launch my own blog I am astounded by the amount of ill will consumers have toward contractors. It seems almost every week there is another contractor night mare story in the newspaper or on the news.

How can this change?
How can homeowners protect themselves?
Why are contractors so poor at servicing the consumer?
Why are our elected officials allowing this to go on?
What are contractors doing about it?
What questions should a homeowner ask before hiring a contractor?

The Stigma of the industry

When I meet a homeowner who has been referred I usually have no trouble gaining their trust and confidence. However, when I meet a homeowner who does not know me through referral I find that I have to overcome the stigma of the poor performance of my industry before I can professionally service the customer. There are fine reputable contractors who have to bear the sins of the fly by night outfits. Many times homeowners are so guarded that their distrust of contractors in general causes the good contractor to lose interest in their job.
When this happens homeowners end up with the less quality outfit. This leads to more bad contractor experiences.
Industry experts state that 90% of contracting businesses fail in the first five years. The reasons are many but it is clear that homeowners are at a distinct disadvantage when hiring a contractor. Only one in 10 contracting businesses make it. So how do you prevent a contractor night mare?

These are the topics I will talk about on my coming blog. I believe that the home improvement industry must do better by educating their employees to treat homeowners properly. I believe in 100% customer satisfaction.
Contractors must become better sales people and listen and serve the customer.
The customer was not born with a construction manual in his or her head so the contractor must educate the homeowner. An educated and properly informed consumer will gladly hire the professional contractor. Education is the key to a healthier relationship between homeowners and contractors. Once contractors adopt a 100% customer satisfaction attitude then they will see less complaints against the home improvement industry and then used car salesman can regain their position as the most complained about industry again!

I welcome and encourage any feedback regarding this post. If you have an idea or topic you would like to discuss please repond to this message. 

Also I would like to thank Rick again for the opportunity to share on this blog.

Mark Paskell

ps. please comment and rate the above post 

UPDATE: I’m pleased to write that Mark has indeed started his own blog. You can find him at http://www.howtohireacontractor.net/. Good luck, Mark. I’ll be reading.

5 thoughts on “Why do home improvement contractors have a worse reputation than used car salesman?

  1. You are absolutely correct !! An educated consumer is the best consumer & most thankful. I’ve had many opportunities over the years to educate my clients correctly before problems raise their ugly heads. Educators/coaches tend to be better salespeople. Kudo’s to you. Good Luck.

  2. Well done, Mark! I am really looking forward to reading your regular writing on this subject. My brother in law recently had a few nightmares. He GC’d the project and a bunch of his sub contractors were horrible. They did too many stupid and unprofessional thinks to count.

  3. Hello LindaGreat question. First if a consumer is in the middle of a project with a contractor and the work is poor they can either fire the contractor or confront him directly. If the contractor is concerned about future work through referrals or word of mouth he may correct the defeciencies to your satisfaction. It is usually more cost effective to try to deal with contractor you have hired and paid.If you have lost all confidence in the contractor and cannot phathom the possibilty that the work can be corrected to your satisfaction then let him go. Try to get a release on your contract and work out an a fair settlement. If a permit has been pulled you can call the local building inspector and ask for some help. If a contractor wants to continue working in the town he may be inclined to make sure your work is corrected when he knows the building inspector is involved. The above comments assume you hired a contractor with a contract and a permit was pulled. In the event there is no contract or permit then all bets are off.To prevent this from happening consumers need to be very careful selecting their contractor. Consumers best protection is education. Check out everything you can about the contractor.Check current jobs, talk to past customers, check with building inspectors, go to their place of business to make sure it exists, call the BBB, check their liscense, are they registered to do business in the state, is their proposal clear and understandable, are they members of trade organizations and more.Hope this helps.Mark

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