Pricing in the home maintenance and reimaging market is not a set standard by any means. Customers often ask me why the bids vary so much and are so far apart. When I submit bids, I hear customers say “you and the other guy where dead even” or “That’s a good price”, (which always means I was low bid) or “you got to be crazy. I got a bid for half of yours “. Regardless of what the other bids are, I bid the work estimating labor and material cost plus a modest profit for my company. I make sure I can provide the highest quality with a clearly defined scope of work because I want a delighted customer when it’s done along with a good reference. I assume that others may do the same, but they may have different data, volume of work and overhead. There is information on the web that will give a square foot price for certain types of work such as plumbing, Electrical, Flooring, Drywall, Plaster and of course Painting. This is not accurate. It is mostly based on large commercial jobs and information from General Contractors and varies by geographical areas and zip codes.
So, what factors affect the price for your project? There are obvious factors to a contractor but not so obvious to the homeowner. For example:
-What is the Location? If I and my painters are based out of Denver-Metro area of Colorado and the job is in Colorado Springs or Longmont, Colorado, that will add at least 2 hours a day commuting time to the job. However, that doesn’t mean that we will not be competitive with the price.
- Is the house, condo or apartment occupied? What areas will be in use such as bathrooms and kitchens? Are there other trades concurrently working on site?
- What condition is it in? Does it need a lot of prep?
-Are there small children or pets? Are there very high vaulted ceilings to reach?
-Does furniture need to be moved? Is there outside grills or other items against the house that need to be moved?
-Do we have to work on weekends or nights?
- Is there a rush to get it done?
These are all obvious and reasonable sounding factors but there are some that are not so obvious and based mostly on social interaction and personality.
I would like to preface the following information by saying I have had 35 years’ experience in management and the customer service field and extensive training in reading and understanding personalities. Human communication is a very complicated thing and subject to many misgivings.
That being said, I don’t claim to know everything. When I have a “knee-jerk” reaction to someone I have learned to make sure it’s not an egoic based reaction, (and it usually is). However, there are some first impressions and subsequent commentaries that start the dollar signs and decimal places moving. Here are some examples:
When I greet a potential customer at their door and they come out and start by confronting me angrily by saying “I already have 2 estimates so you better give me a good bid”.” I don’t want any cheap paint on this project.” “I’m going to watch you and your guys and make sure you are doing it right.” He or she say all this before I have even been properly greeted and shaken their hand. I perceive this as a dare and they just added money to the bid. It may be unconscious on their part and just a way they think they should be to protect themselves from unscrupulous contractors. I understand this behavior is based on fear but it comes across to me that they have already assumed that I am going to rip them off. I will give a good try to reassure them and disarm them so we can discuss the scope of work and maybe they can let me know a ball park figure from the other bids he or she got so I can determine if I even want to bid it. The old cliché “you get more flies with honey” comes to mind. I’ve also had to get bids from contractors for work on my own home over the years. I’ve had some disappointments but I try not to let that influence my future interactions. As I’ve discussed in previous blogs some homework might be warranted such as checking references, web presence, history you can find, etc.
Assuming the worst in a confrontational first meeting will only result in a higher estimate.
Another factor that will result in a higher price is asking for the scope of work to be broken down into line items on the estimate. For example: The customer will say give me a price for just the walls and then the trim and ceilings separate and just the doors, etc. This is hard to bid because if all the work is awarded at once it costs less. Set up and labor can be staged more effectively. If I must break it down with the potential of only being awarded one line item, then I must charge more per line item. I have had customers ask me for a bid just to do the high part of a house or the “hard” part of an interior and he/she intend to do the rest. I will bid it reluctantly and clearly define our scope and responsibility however, I will not offer any warranty or “touch up” call backs. As a business owner, contractor and salesperson I want every job to be perfect for both the customers and my painters and I try to make sure on the front end that everything will go smoothly. The world isn’t perfect and people aren’t perfect especially me. I always stick to my bid price like a promise unless more work is added to the original scope. I go the extra mile to delight the customer. I hope this helps in your search for the best price and value for your project and explains the factors that can affect the final price. I appreciate your comments.