Cost vs. Value-Redux

Leaking-chimney-photo-2I was reminded again about the eternal debate in our business about cost vs. value. Working with a new client is always tough- most people have no feel for what anything should cost when it’s a one-off, hand built  item like a new chimney or a family room built in. This encourages them to try to get competitive or comparable quotes, which, because there is no common drawing or playbook, is impossible. So, we recently quoted a chimney repair that requires the complete dismantling of the existing chimney, and rebuilding it including re-flashing it and repairing the roof around it. Our quote was for several thousand dollars- we anticipate at least a week of work with set-up of safety scaffolding and cleanup. The competitive quote was for $400!! So I asked the client if they were comfortable that the company that quoted $400 could really perform the repairs necessary for that amount-the answer was no. So, then I asked, what did you learn by getting that competitive quote? The answer? Nothing, really.

I’m convinced that the urge to search out “quotes” in this business is really a reaction to having no knowledge of what it takes to accomplish a given project, and so people try to latch on to the only thing they do know about it-and that is the cost. But, given the example above, do those numbers really give the client an indication about the VALUE they are purchasing?? What kind of people are you agreeing to do business with? Since everything in our business is custom made by hand, isn’t the most important thing you are purchasing the people? Sure, with Home Depot or Lowes anyone can buy the stuff to complete these kinds of projects, but it takes years of knowledge to really know  how to install these things properly. The value, then, is in the service, not the stuff-This photo is of a chimney that we had to tear down- flashing was all wrong, the wash was all wrong, and the roof flashing was never installed. Note the bleeding down the stone and flashing  from water running down the inside of the structure- yuck!!

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