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Figuring Out Who You Can Trust

Posted by on May 4, 2010
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My wife has this obsession with our roof. The problem first came to fruition during the worst rain storm the Syracuse area had in decades in 2002, when the entire area flooded. Our house was no different, and the roof didn’t handle things all that well; neither did the basement for that matter.

The issue with us was that when we bought the house, the realtor had recommended someone to do our roof for us, and we paid these guys $3,500. We had no idea what they did until later, and even now I’m not really sure what any of it means. This is the first real house I’ve ever lived in, so you can bet I’m not technically savvy.

We had to contact the attorney general to find this guy the first time, and he came back, did some kind of patch job, and fixed the ceiling in the master bedroom, doing a lousy job. A couple of years later we had another storm, not as bad as the first one, and it exposed a couple more spots, but by this time the guy and his partner was long gone. My wife took out a loan, we had some minor stuff done, and no more leaks in the house.

But we still have roof issues. She brought in one guy who did some roof work, but not the type of work I was expecting, and we probably paid him close to $8,000. We paid another guy $10,000, thinking he would take care of us because we knew him, and he did good work; only his work only covered one section of the house, which was about a quarter of the entire house. Nope, didn’t see that coming.

Over the past two years, we’ve had a bunch of people come to the house to give us estimates on what it might cost to get our roof taken care of. Last January, a guy came to the house to do some other work, took a look at the roof, and quoted us $18,000. Last summer another guy came with his wife, spent 3 hours with my wife (I didn’t want to be a part of it), and quoted a price of $29,500; we’re not quite that foolish anymore. We’ve had other people come by and never heard from them again; not a phone call, email regular letter, nothing; what the hey?

Last week we had two more guys come by to give us estimates. One guy said we needed so much work that he recommended a contractor to farm the job out to; that didn’t sound good. The second guy… well, maybe. He did his review, then came into the house, and I finally went out to sit in on the conversation. To be truthful, I’d never sat in on any of the other conversations because I always had a bad feeling about the people coming in to do the work, even the guy I knew.

His price; $8,800. He used a lot of terms I didn’t know, but my wife knew. Then he gave me a pamphlet which explained all the terms he was using; that was good. He said his company would guarantee the work for 30 years; that was nice. I asked him about the look of our roof, as it has a couple of places where it looks like it dips, and he said that had nothing to do with leakage and that it was common, and if that was a big deal then it would require a full reconstruction, which would get as high as $25,000, but that it wasn’t needed; I liked that answer also, and my wife said it was the first time anyone had ever said that.

Now, here’s the deal. At the end of the day, I still had to ask myself if I trusted him. With the wide array of prices, does the 30 year guarantee make one more trustworthy than the others? I can’t even say if the company is well known or not; I don’t know any roofing companies to say if they’ve been around a long time (okay, I know one, but I also know that one company is fairly steep, since they did the guy’s roof across the street, and they had to fix it 3 times before they got it right).

It’s the question I ask myself in wondering why I don’t have more sales on some of my other pages, or even here. Heck, my workshop next week doesn’t have as many people coming as I’d have liked, and I wonder if it’s a matter of trust, recognition, or just that people aren’t as interested in the topics as they seemed to indicate when we did our survey. I wonder if most of us don’t ask that question enough when we’re marketing to the masses. In today’s online world, where each of us has lots of people we’re competing with in some fashion, is there a way we can find to show that we’re trustworthy enough so that we might make more online sales?

Something to think about as you get on with your day.

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26 Comments »

Mitch, there is a saying in some circles that it is best to be a tenant rather than an owner of residences. Where I now live is the first and only place that I have ever bought. I have had my share of rip off artists coming and screwing up my happiness in plumbing, electrical work, painting, fencing, and furniture work, carpentry etc. After nineteen years of such experience, I have now settled down with a few regulars, who respect me and in turn I trust and respect. They are more expensive than some others that my neighbours use, but that does not bother me. I recommend these persons without hesitation to anyone who asks for such help with the proviso that the costs will be more. It has been an expensive way to learn to trust but has eventually paid off.
.-= Rummuser´s last blog ..The Lost Mobile Phone. =-.

Mitch Reply:

Rummuser, I think that’s kind of the issue here. I don’t know any of these people who do all of this kind of stuff except, as I said, my friend’s brother in law, and it’s funny because once he found out I had hired him, he asked me why. lol

May 4th, 2010 | 9:51 AM

Hi Mitch,
I have lost thousands of dollars trusting the wrong people and I understand the work I must do with my clients–especially with my more expensive coaching packages.

I’m sure your already know this but my sales trainer taught me selling is about relationship building and that people buy from those they know, like, and trust. He says that there are three doors to influence that I must pass through: rapport, relevant ideas, and credibility. I’m still practicing those skills.
.-= Rachel Lavern´s last blog ..You Are Not What You Think You Are =-.

Mitch Reply:

Good stuff, Rachel. You know, the issue with getting some things done is that you don’t have anyone who you can go to ask, or the people you do ask give negatives about one group, and that leaves you still unknowing about everyone else.

May 4th, 2010 | 10:51 AM

That’s why I believe in business meetings for local marketing, and a blog as well as a business website for online marketing.

A blog is much more “relaxed” compared to a dry, boring website. You can build connections with like-minded individuals, and exchange dialog.

Remember, people buy from people, not a company.
.-= Carolee´s last blog ..Featured Home Business =-.

Mitch Reply:

Carolee, people buy from people when we get to know those people. Most of these small business folks don’t have a website, and don’t go to networking events either. So, sometimes we can just go by our gut feeling on these things, and sometimes that’s flawed. Then again, sometimes it’s brutally up front, only they don’t know it.

May 4th, 2010 | 8:50 PM
Monique:

I really like this post, Mitch. I have been exploring this topic a lot lately. I feel like associations help build trust. For the yellow pages, they now have The Super Guarantee Gold Shield program where they prescreen service providers. They’ll also reimburse you up to $500 if you have a problem with one of their recommended providers.
With Rachel’s coaching services, she has the Bob Proctor Consulting logo that confirms her training. His name alone sells because of what his brand is known for.
Locally, I would say associating with say the Chamber of Commerce can add trust. I’ve been seriously considering joining because I soon want to local workshops and seminars. I noticed Joel Comm posting registration for his last Social Media Social on the local Chamber of Commerce page, rather than his website.
I think association helps, but I guess you also need to reach out and help some people first, document their success, and then get a testimonial. That’s one thing I like about the New Domino’s pizza campaign. I would have never tried the new pizza, if it were not for the testimonials. I never did like Domino’s and wouldn’t touch it with a 10′ pole. But now I like their new pizza.

Thanks for this post, it really helps me and you will have to tell us what happened with the roofing contractor w/ the brochure!

Mitch Reply:

Thanks for the comment, Monique. Actually, not many of the people I went looking for belong to any local Chambers, and I kind of don’t blame them. We’re in the middle of kind of a revival now, and maybe in the next few months it will be the thing to do once again in this area. But it does make the vetting process kind of difficult.

May 5th, 2010 | 6:31 AM

Yes, they offer a 30 year warranty BUT my next question would be “How long have you been in business”.

A company that’s only been in business a short while can offer a 100 year guarantee and it wouldn’t mean a thing.

I would check with the BBB and do they have a company brand name? If they operate under a numbered corporation you can bet they are fly-by-nighters.

Ask for references too and check them thoroughly with a skeptical eye.

..BB

Mitch Reply:

Good points, BB. Actually, I know they’ve been in business 11 years, but if they went out of business a week after they did my roof that would pretty much be the end of that guarantee. Actually, the guy gave us a list of references; well over 50 people in my own neighborhood. When we’re really ready, we’re going to talk to some of those folks.

BLOGBloke Reply:

I would also ask for a copy of their warranty to check for loopholes before signing. If they object I would interpret that as a warning sign.

May 5th, 2010 | 8:19 PM

While a 30 year guarantee may sound good it doesn’t mean much if they;re not around to honor it.

I know the house across for me has had problems with his roof for ages, it also dipped a bit in the middle and while it didn’t have any major leaks it did let enough moisture through to rot the main support beam. Although it cost him close to $250000 his roof is finally fixed.

What he did was to get an engineer to check out the situation, rather than rely on the roofing guys, and they gave him a report on what had to be done, it was then up to him to find the qualified contractors to do the job.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Scientific Revelation Explaining Why Some A Listers Are Assholes =-.

Mitch Reply:

Sire, when you get so many estimates and they seem to be all over the place, you just don’t know who to trust. I figure right now I don’t have the money to bring in an engineer to look at my house; I certainly won’t be spending anywhere near $30,000 even if an engineer said that’s what it took. But these people, all of them, just keep coming; tonight, some windows people showed up at the house to offer estimates & the like; don’t trust them either.

Sire Reply:

What would an engineer charge Mitch? I think the one the neighbor used only charged $500 and that was money well spent if it means the job will get done properly. You could even say that final payment would only occur upon getting the OK from the engineer. That should scare off all the shonky guys.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Skysa Could be The Coolest Add On For Any Blog =-.

Mitch Reply:

Actually Sire, it may be a bit different here than it is there. One doesn’t just pick up the phone and call an engineer around here. We have home inspectors, and they don’t cost much, but we had an inspection before we bought the house.

Sire Reply:

Seems you guys could learn a thing or two from us Aussies Mitch, hey mate? ;)
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Where Would You Be Without Ink For Your Printer? =-.

Mitch Reply:

We can’t learn anything from anyone, Sire; we’re Americans! lol

Sire Reply:

Yeah, well that’s OK, it’s good to know that we do certain things better than you Yanks ;)
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Skysa Could be The Coolest Add On For Any Blog =-.

Mitch Reply:

Heck no one said that! Besides, if you had any real weather where you live, we could do a real comparison on roofs. You don’t have to deal with sub-freezing temperatures, ice and snow over and over. Better; hmmph! :-P

Sire Reply:

Yeah lucky bastards aren’t we :D
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Taking The Time To Think Before Clicking Submit =-.

May 5th, 2010 | 10:42 PM

Mitch,
What type of roof do they use in the US? Is it slate?

In this part of the world, the roofs vary (based on the economic conditions) from leaves to asbestos to tin to aluminum to terracotta tiles to RC concrete roofs. Not sure if expensive slates are in place.

In the case of terracotta tiles fixing process is rather cheap. RC roofs, are rarely leaked..

Well, in your part of the world it sounds like a damn expensive thing to get it fixed.
.-= Ajith Edassery´s last blog ..How to remove Date stamp from Google SERP description? =-.

Mitch Reply:

Ajith, we have all sorts of roofs out this way; at least in New York we do. No leaves or grass roofs though; our winters are much too severe for that sort of thing. And yes, it can be really expensive, but then again, if they’re built properly they should last for many, many years.

May 6th, 2010 | 6:18 AM

Too bad I’m not closer to you. My husband has been a roofer for over 25 years. If nothing else, he could tell you what it should cost.

I can say [from all of the times I’ve heard him talk] that a 30 year guarantee is for a new roof. Are they repairing or replacing? Typically, repairs are limited, but service contracts are available to offset some of the cost. The one thing that raises a flag for me is you say they look at your roof then come in and give you a quote. That has never been my experience [for myself or in listening to my husband]. They should be gathering information and sending you a detailed quote after they’ve had a chance to plug in their numbers and get materials costs and such. Hmmm.
.-= Anne Bender´s last blog ..Let The Lovin’ Come Back To Me =-.

Mitch Reply:

See now Anne, you’re scaring me here. They would be replacing the roof, which is why they supposedly already have the figures, based on the square footage of our roof, because he had a list of what would be needed for that.

Anne Bender Reply:

I mentioned this to my husband and he said they would know the materials cost and would base their quote on that. That is not how it was done when mine was replaced or how I ever heard him doing them, but it’s not unusual. Sorry to scare you.
.-= Anne Bender´s last blog ..Read the Fine Print =-.

Mitch Reply:

Okay, feeling better now Anne; scaring me like that! lol

May 6th, 2010 | 11:40 PM