You Get What You Pay For
by Ron Call
So I’m driving down the road today with my wife in the car coming back to San Diego from a business trip in LA. I admit after a long 5 hours in the car I was a little grumpy. And this radio advertisement comes on and tells me they sell their flooring at 80% off cost. After I calmed down ranting and raving things like “sure 80% off a 100% mark up, bunch of lying so and so’s”! My wife says don’t get mad about it just blog about it. So anyway I’m calm now and collecting my thoughts.
Everyone needs to make a profit. That’s how we all pay the bills right? If no one could make a profit we’d all be poor living on dirt floors. But 80% off? Come on, next they will be selling stuff at what? 100% off? Remember you get what you pay for.
I did an installation for a customer last month that is a perfect example of you get what you pay for. I’m a licensed flooring contractor that works out of a small shop. I am typically hired by retailers, interior designers and general contractors to do installations of the flooring that they sell. Occasionally I’ll have a customer usually a referral where I’m asked to provide both the flooring and the installation.
So I head over to her house to meet with her and go over all the details. I find out what type of flooring she wants, I figure out how much material that will be needed and what type of sub-floor she has (very important). Because she lives upstairs in a condo, I also need to make sure for any sound proofing requirements. She also lived right on the ocean which can bring a whole set of challenges in itself. So I submitted my bid for labor which detailed exact square footage required, moldings, base boards, demo of the old floor etc., everything but the floor that she would eventually choose. We planned on me returning in a few days with samples of all the different types of flooring she was interested in. A couple days later she called to say that she was putting things off for a couple weeks as her mom was ill.
Two weeks later she called me very excited that she had found the perfect bamboo floor at that large national discount chain. (I won’t mention their name) but they constantly advertise on T.V. and have their signs hanging in baseball parks all over America. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t sell her the floor myself but I was happy she was happy, and work is work.
So we scheduled the installation for two weeks later. She scheduled her vacation time so she could be home during construction. The plan was I would pick up the bamboo and deliver it, start the demo and prep which was extensive, then on day 4 after proper acclimation we would start putting down some wood.
Here’s where its starts getting a little sticky. We pick up the bamboo and deliver it to the house up two flights of stairs and stack it in the dining room. I open one of the boxes to verify the color and quality and to my shock and dismay it’s solid bamboo not engineered. Which basically means it needs 10 -14 days acclimation not the standard 3 days for engineered products. This customer’s home was one block from the ocean which means acclimation is hyper critical even for engineered products let alone a solid one.
I tell my customer the situation and I explain that we cannot start the install for two weeks. She was beside herself telling me that she could not change her vacation time and what could I do. I explained that without proper acclimation her floor would have no warrantee from the manufacturer. And that from my experience, installing a solid floating floor without proper acclimation would almost surely fail and that I, in all good conscience could not install it. So the job was rescheduled for 2 weeks later as the discount store did not have a similar engineered product in stock so we could not exchange it. My customer thought she was getting a good deal saving what she thought was a few cents per square foot.
In the end she took 2 more weeks off work unpaid and I lost 2 weeks of work myself. Between the both of us it cost us thousands of dollars. I went to the see the store manager at the discount warehouse and he was no help at all. I asked him if he qualified his customer’s to make sure that what he’s selling people is actually suitable for the application involved (he should have known she lived by the ocean and sold her engineered flooring). He basically told me when a customer comes in and buys a floor that his sub-contractors don’t install he just sells the customer what they want. Cash and carry, all he cared about was that he made the sale.
The purchase of new flooring in your home can be one of the most expensive purchases that you will ever make. You need to make sure that you shop at a good retailer with experience and one who only utilizes good licensed contractors.
Some retailers don’t use sub contractors they use their own employees, which is fine as long as the retailer is themselves an experienced contractor. There are many factors to consider when choosing new flooring and there are many things that need to be considered to ensure your flooring purchase is a good experience such as type of floor, environment, location of the home, sub floor, type of home (ie: single family, condo, apartment, mobile home or a high traffic business location), method of installation, type of floor, warrantee and the list goes on and on. Sometimes when you’re trying to cut corners and save a few pennies it ends up costing you more in the end. Remember you get what you pay for!