Lessons learned while choosing a bathroom contractor
First of all: What business does a rectangular wall mirror have costing $300?! How dare you? You are a piece of glass in a metal frame.
The source of my gripe: My husband and I are remodeling the primary bathroom of our townhouse, which hasn’t changed meaningfully since it was built more than 20 years ago.
It’s not that anything has started leaking or otherwise fallen into disrepair. I just hate looking at it.
- The vanity countertop is 31 inches high, hitting me at my low thigh.
- The builder-grade mirror takes up an entire wall. That faces the toilet.
- The fixtures are polished chrome. (I am a brushed gold or matte black girl.)
- The lightswitch configuration is a head-scratcher.
- There’s a completely nonfunctional wall that messes with the feng shui of the joint.
- I’ve…fallen into the tub more times than I’m okay discussing.
It’s the biggest project we’ve undertaken as new homeowners. Everything is heinously expensive.
I have…mixed feelings about the whole thing.
Excited: The vanity I just ordered is “midnight blue.” C’MON.
Scared: There is SO MUCH I don’t know.
- I don’t want to pay more than I should.
- I don’t want to get ghosted by my contractor.
- I don’t want to get stuck with a shower head that dribbles out water.
But I do want to like my bathroom.
So I’m prepared to make the investment.
I contacted five contractors and got estimates from three. (It is HARD to find a GC right now.)
The first, referred by a neighbor, spent an hour and a half taking measurements, asking detailed questions, and understanding the technicalities of the project.
I needed to take a nap after he left.
His proposal detailed every step and named every rough material he’d be using. I needed another nap.
The 5-Minute Man
The second, also referred by a neighbor, sashayed in without so much as a smile, asked a few perfunctory questions, got measurements, and put his shoes back on and peaced out.
No, bud. At least pretend you care.
The Nice Guy
The third, referred by our handyman service, sent his quote sight unseen. “There is only so much that can be done when doing a full bathroom remodel,” he said. “I was able to put together a proposal for you based on the pictures and information provided.”
This made me nervous — though the proposal included everything the others did, thus proving his point. And then we got on the phone.
He was affable but no-nonsense. He answered my questions. He spoke transparently about his process and timeline; he helped me understand the costs. He offered to introduce me to his trusted tile and fixtures contacts so I could take advantage of his trade discount.
So, whose proposal did I choose?
Well, I’ll tell you who I didn’t choose.
I didn’t choose the contractor who overwhelmed me with details and sent me an eye-popping proposal.
I didn’t choose the wildly inexpensive contractor who clearly didn’t give a damn about my project and followed up days after he said he would with an underwhelming quote document.
I chose the contractor who cut to the chase and gave me the most important details. Who took the time to help me feel confident this project would be successful. I chose the one who convinced me he would be our partner — not just a dude with a hammer.
(He also happens to have a great website with photos of his work and messaging that reinforces his commitment to customer service, transparency, and affordability.)
Holy crap… Did I get StoryBranded?!
Marketing works — when you back it up with action.
Of course good marketing works on marketers — but we also know it’s a bunch of hot air when the experience doesn’t match the words.
As an entrepreneur, a huge part of my work is asking people to say yes to working with me. And give me not-insignificant amounts of money. 🙈
I’m not usually on the receiving end of high-ticket sales pitches, but when I was, I found I wanted to hire the exact kind of professional I encourage my clients to be.
Okay. Off to empty my piggy bank. That custom tilework’s not going to pay for itself!
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