In today’s construction market the statement in the graphic above has never been more true. Here in Saskatoon, the market is super saturated with contractors, home builders, plumbers, and even electricians. Lately it seems every truck that drives by has a ladder strapped to it, new decals on it, and is “competition” I have never heard of. Not all competition is created equal and not everyone is fit to run a business. Being a new company doesn’t mean they aren’t skilled trades people or that the quality of their work is subpar. Having low overhead as new company, and no added costs for such expenses as warehouse space, employees, or a vehicle fleet, can sometimes help a contractor price better than the more experienced, well established companies. By no means am I saying not to hire the new guy either, even the biggest contractors started out with a truck and a dream. Just be sure you always know what you are getting. The cheapest price, while some times just ends up being a great deal, can other times cost way more if you have to bring in someone else to fix or finish the job. It’s comical when a contractor calls us back as trades and asks, “How much to come finish/fix this job you bid but didn’t get?” My answer is usually the original price. Word of mouth, social media and the internet, and even references from previous customers are all ways you can try to narrow down your decision on which companies you want working for you in your home or business. It’s easy for me to say this, but price shouldn’t always be your determining factor. If it is, be prepared for a whole range of possible outcomes, from pleasantly surprised to never again. You have been warned!
Word of mouth and recommendations are where a good number of our customers come/came from. When a contractor does a job for a customer and the customer is pleased with the outcome, they will be more inclined to tell people about it, they may also become a repeat customer. When looking for your own contractors ask your friends, family, co-workers, even your social media friends. Someone you know will have had a favorable experience with a company that they would be willing to share. Conversely, someone you know could have had a bad experience with a contractor, and these recommendations to stay away can also be very helpful, and will help you steer clear of possible headaches. If you don’t ask you’ll never know.
I try to keep our company’s social media feeds, web page, and google listing up to date by posting a whole bunch of pictures and videos of our work from our current projects. I feel as an electrical contractor it’s important for us to post our work for potential clients to see that we are competent to handle a job comparable to theirs. Not only do I want to show we are competent to handle their job, but that we will complete the job to their satisfaction or keep coming back until it is to their satisfaction. Vet your possible trades. See what they are posting on their social media pages. Check out what their previous clients are saying on Google. Check out their website if they have one. Be a detective and do your due diligence. If you are doing a kitchen renovation, you will have to look at this work for the next 10-15 years (possibly longer, unless you sell the home). That’s a long time, and looking at the hard earned money you spent should bring you joy and make you happy, not bring you down and make you bitter.
Most people have references on their resumes, people that will vouch for them to their potential employers. Don’t be afraid to ask potential contractors/trades for references from previous clients. You could be their future employer if you hire them for your job, and knowing as much as you can about them can be very valuable. Find out who they do work for and what type of work they specialize in. Find out if they can work with in a budget and time line. Check to see if they have qualified workers on site at all time. Not much worse than a job being finished late with a bunch of screw ups due to underqualified employees running the job. Most reputable contractors that have been in business for any amount of time, will have someone that they do work for or have worked with that will put in a good word for them, and try to help them acquire new business. If they have no references or people they fell confident that would vouch for them, I’d recommend to keep looking.
Now with all this being said, I’d be foolish to say that I didn’t know that majority of jobs are awarded to the lowest price. Just be sure to know who that price is coming from. I get tired of hearing of contractors taking a trade’s price that is $40,000.00 lower that all the other bids. We know how its going to work out and we don’t feel sorry for you. You get what your willing to pay for, and when the deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. Be sure you read your entire quote to be sure everyone is quoting the same thing, and not that they have missed out on a bunch of the job. The difference in price is usually based on how the job is interpreted, the quality of work being done, and the quality of the products being used to complete the job. Ultimately its your money to spend how you please, the more informed decisions you make, the happier you will be.