Archive for November, 2006

Intermission – time for a contractor quiz

November 30, 2006

O, so you think you know how to find the best contractor for your project, right?

Well… let’s just see about that.

Take a look at this great quiz I found –

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/homeimp/quiz1.htm

I have to admit – it’s right on target. Check it out!



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Rule #3 – The Kitchen Cabinets Showroom Experience

November 30, 2006

So now you’re getting ready to go to their showroom. You’re probably wondering what will happen, what you’ll see, what to expect… and maybe even “How do I get out of there without signing a contract for something?”

Don’t worry, we’re going to get you prepared for your entry and your exit.

A visit to the showroom is typically for three purposes…

  1. To show you their selection of products and services available
  2. To highlight the benefits their company can provide you by choosing them for the job.
  3. To develop a gameplan and design concept.

Nothing is more frustrating to the company than an unprepared customer. Sure, it’s there job to win you over to go with them, but be fair. Don’t walk in without any idea of what you want, and waste their time looking at picture after picture after picture.

Before you step into the showroom… I would create a workbook. Nothing fancy. A folder to save ideas of designs that you like. Blueprints if you already have that. Perhaps color scheme ideas you’ve thought out, or specific appliances and requirements you have.

Another great idea is to have a list of questions prepared that you want to have answered. Most likely, the designer will be able to answer most of them before you ask them, but have them handy just in case.

There’s also another good reason to have this information prepared before your trip to the kitchen showroom…

TO MAKE SURE YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT, AND NOT WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO GET!

Most companies with a showroom will be running a legitimate business. Keep in mind though, that without sales, the showroom cannot stay open. The last thing you want is for the designer to persuade or build the kitchen on what they want you to take. With your stockpile of information handy, you can always reference back to it to make sure you’re staying close to your original plans (or understand why things have changed if that is the case).

Tomorrow, I’m going to finish this section by answering to questions for you “should I pay for the design service when others offer it free?” and “What should I base my final decision on?”

Happy Remodeling!

Rule #2 – When They Come into Your Home

November 24, 2006

So let’s review…

You’ve conducted a phone interview with a few potential companies to do your kitchen remodeling or kitchen design work. Some will require you to come to their showroom (which we’ll go over next), and some will come out to your home to provide information and an estimate.

Now, it’s time for another “tell”…

DID THEY SHOW UP ON TIME?

One thing I preach to contractors is showing up on time for the appt. Once again – it’s that first impression that means so much. If they can’t be there for the appt – what can you expect once they get your money?

Of course, there are legitimate reasons for not being on time. The sign of a professional is the one that calls BEFORE the appt and let’s you know approximately how far behind they will be. Calling at the appointment time and saying they are 45 minutes away is not acceptable. Obviously, something more important kept them away from you. Do you want to be second best when making a major investment into your home?

So, now the representative is at your home. It may be the owner, a sales rep, a designer, who knows. Regardless of their position, what matters is what they do at the appointment.

You’ll want to look for someone who asks LOTS of questions. When doing a major kitchen remodel, there are lots of “what-if’s” that can happen. For the company, they’ll want to make sure all of these are covered so nothing unexpected comes up.

There are thousands of different things that can happen during the appointment. So how do you know if the company is doing the right thing?

Once again, it usually depends on how the appointment ends.

You should expect them to do measurements, provide information on their company, show you pictures of other kitchens they’ve remodeled and kitchen cabinets they’ve installed… but does that mean they’re a good company to go with?

NO!

At the end of the appointment, there are typically five things that can happen. I’ll write them out in order of appeal for your satisfaction:

#1 – they schedule a time for you to come to their showroom. – This is the best scenario. This means the company was willing to invest their time to do research on your project first, gather data, and want you to come to their showroom so they can provide further details for your project, and show you what they can do. Two thumbs up if the company goes this route!

#2 – They want to schedule a second appointment to review what they can offer you –  once again this is a good scenario. They’ve invested their time into learning about your project,they want to do further homework, and come back to you with a plan for your kitchen remodel. Usually, this is an indicator that they do not have a showroom. This is not a bad thing. Many contractors I work with find a showroom as a huge overhead expense and they can perform better without the worry of paying that bill.

#3 – They want to mail you a proposal –  I give this the “half-ass” award. It’s good that they made the first step to come out to your home and evaluate your needs. It’s good that they plan to do research and provide you with a solution. But they’re follow-up methods are lousy. Why would they invest so much time and effort up front, just to send you a piece of mail? Usually, this is a sign that they are super-backed up and you’ll be on a waiting list… or they have no interest in the job and are “brushing you off”.

#4 – They try to “close the deal” right then –  This is a big turn-off for me. Sure, everything in his world is sold to someone by someone, and your kitchen remodeling project will be no different. But it’s just to early in the process to go for a sale. If this occurs – I would be hesitant to consider this company. To ask for the sale, they have to provide you with a pricetag, and the complete solution. There simply is no way to package everything up this easily. Of course, if you’re just looking for a new countertop it’s a possibility, but much more than that and you cannot ask for the sale yet.

    #5 – They decline your job –  strike three for you. But count your blessings. At least they had the professional courtesy to turn your job down than to take on a project that would be a headache for them and you. Thank them for their help, and ask them what a good job for them normally is. This way, you can send them a referral if one comes up. Cross them off of your list and hope the next company can provide a solution.

OK – so next we’ll go over Rule #3 – going to their showroom.

So Let’s Avoid Getting Screwed By The Kitchen Contractor

November 24, 2006

With the previous posts showing all the negativity that can happen with a kitchen remodel… why not give some super-powerful ways to prevent these nightmares from happening to you.

I’ll probably do this in a series of posts. I could just write down a few things ti give you the ideas, but I think you’ll want a decent explanation for added protection.

So let’s start with Rule #1…
RULE #1 – How Do They Handle Your Inquiry
First impressions make a difference in EVERY aspect of your life. Keep this in mind when you first contact the contractor or designer. Did they answer the phone? If so – how was it answered? Did they just say “hello”? This is a dead give-away you are working with a small time guy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a “tell” when other factors are looked at.

If the phone was not answered… what happened? Did it go to a cell phone voicemail? Ick – so unprofessional. Guess where your calls will go when there are problems? Yup… the same voicemail.

Even worse is a home voicemail. This is another dead giveaway that you are dealing with an amateur. Most likely, they do the design or remodeling work on the side. If you were referred to this person through a trusted friend it may be OK, but I would hang up and move on to someone else. If things go wrong – what do you think they’ll do? Lose their “REAL” job trying to make you happy? Probably not.

With so many simple technologies available today, the initial call is usually a dead giveaway to how they handle customer service (which will be a big consideration in your remodel). I consult with many remodeling companies and have introduced simple methods to give customers a “warm and fuzzy” feeling – which goes a long way. Simple things such as a professional sounding voicemail, including your website URL so customers can further research your company, using an 24-7 answering service to take the call and forward the message to you in whatever way necessary. These are simple marketing procedures that any business should have in place.

Finally – listen to how they handle the call. Are they asking you questions, or are they telling you about themselves?

If they are telling you about themselves – it is usually another sign of dealing with a small-timer. The small guys HAVE to “sell” you on why you should be going with them instead of someone else. Contractors that understand the business know that fulfilling the needs of the customer is what gets the deal.

If they are asking you questions about your project – this is likely a good sign. Unless the first question is “what is your budget”, or “how much money you gonna gimme for doing it?”. When you hear this at the beginning if the conversation, politely end the call and move on. You’re talking to someone who sees you as a mortgage payment, not a lifelong client that can potentially bring in thousands of dollars of revenue from this project, future projects, referrals, etc.

Hopefully, the questions they ask are regarding the project. A good intro conversation should include a few questions about what your plans are… where you are in the project process, what are your biggest concerns, have you established a budget for the project yet (this question is perfectly fine when combined with other fact-finding questions), etc.

Finally – the ending of the conversation. Hopefully all has went well with your initial contact. How the call is ended is another great sign of what you can expect from this contractor/designer/company.

If they say something along the lines of “I’m really busy right now… I’ll call you back sometime and schedule an appointment” – you’re most likely dealing with an unorganized company/person. If they are able to schedule an appointment with you right then… or set a specific time to call you back to schedule the appointment – these are good signs. If they can at least get this part of their business organized… hopefully the rest will be the same.

Stay tuned for the next rule – when they come to your home for the estimate.

Another Kitchen Remodeling Rip-Off Explained

November 23, 2006

Seems like I’m bringing up all the negative things that can happen with your kitchen cabinets and remodeling project. WEll.. better to be informed than to be let down.

Take a peek at this article I found:

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061028/NEWS01/610280320/-1/NEWS

Good info here. It tears apart one of those “Get a full kitchen remodel for under $10,000” ads – which OVER-promise so tehy can get you to buy, the nfail to deliver what the customer expected in the end.

Take a few minutes and read how these scams really work. Many times – the $10,000 kitchen turns into a $30-40,000 kitchen when you add in all of the things you “expected” to be included… like a faucet for that new sink.

Happy remodeling!

Ouch – Home Depot???

November 23, 2006

Wow – just did a news search on Google. Take a look at this story:

http://www.nbc4.tv/investigations/10374941/detail.html

Looks like lots of unsatisfied (more like miserable) customers of Home Depot, complaining about hte problems they had with using the company for their kitchen remodel.

Here’s the video supporting the story

http://video.nbc4.tv/player.html?dlid=46506

Now certainly, Home Depot does a good job sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. And of course the news story wants to create drama to make the story more appealing.

But here’s what you have to understand.

The real reason these people had problems was…


They didn’t do their homework!!!

Regardless of who you use… Home Depot… Lowes… Jim’s High End Custom Cabinets…. Bob’s Real Fast Remodeling Company… it doesn’t matter.

If you just sign your name on the line without doing your homework – you should EXPECT to have problems.

Always remember – it doesn’t matter what is said. In the end, what’s on the agreement is the binding contract.

Did your contractor tell you he should have the work completed within two weeks? Get it in writing. What are the terms if the work is not completed in this timeframe? What exceptions will you accept that could cause the work to go over?

Many times, it’s a simple communication problem that cuases kitchen remodeling and kitchen cabinet installation to go wrong. Rather than misinterpreting things… get it all in writing and signed by both you and the contracting company.

One More Quickie Post – Give Me Your Feedback!

November 23, 2006

Want to help me out?

I’m doing a simple, 6 question survey to better understand exactly what type of information you would like to see here.

It’s anonymous, and only takes about 2 minutes to complete.
Click here to help me with the survey.

Oh, by the way, we’ll be giving away a FREE kitchen design to one person who completes the survey. Drawing will be the end of next month. Get it while you can!

Hello world!

November 23, 2006

So let’s start off with some good information for you!

Most customers I speak are in the intial stages of their kitchen remodel. Looking for kitchen design ideas.

Are you in the same position? Need help with the kitchen design tips?

Here’s my top 5 resources I use and recommend to customers.

#1 – Kitchens.com Remodel Blog – this is a neat idea. A customer writes a day-by-day blog journal detailing out the process of their remodel. This is great information. You can see what others go through, where they have problems, and where things went well. Good reading material for you.
#2 – About.com Interior Kitchen Design pages – I’m a big fan of about.com – it’s a great concept. You take people who are passionate about a topic, and have them pour out their hearts with information and tips for people who want to learn about that topic. Brilliant.

Here are my favorite articles to reference customers to for kitchen design help:

Remodeling a Kitchen – Getting Started
Kitchen Planning
Decorating ideas

#3 – Lowes.com Makeover Magic for your Kitchen – Regardless of whether you get your kitchen cabinets from Lowes or not, make use of their helpful advice. This is a great guided tour of the kitchen remodel and design process.
#4 – Superkitchens.com – This is a great site for planning your kitchen remodel. You can set up a project planner and keep notes on your kitchen design and remodeling. This is great for organizing your thoughts and plans.
#5 – Kohler Kitchen Design Help – a great resource to help from the very begining of your dream kitchen, to the final steps.

Stay tuned. I’m going to show you a great way to organize all of your thoughts and ideas in one place, without any clutter!