Home Owners, Contractors Sound Off About Each Other
The worst nightmare for a contractor is a customer who continually asks for work to be changed or redone, and for a customer, it’s shoddy workmanship, according to surveys conducted by Opinion Research Corporation in March, on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Professional, to find out what the two think of each other.
Other nightmares for contractors, in descending order, include:
- Customers who don’t pay on time
- Customers who talk too much
- Customers who request work that doesn’t conform to the building code
- Customers who threaten to sue
The top three complaints of customers are:
- Work not started on time
- Increases in the price of the job after it has been started or completed
- A mess that is left for them to clean up
For contractors, the top-three gripes were against:
- Customers who try to get them to do more work without paying for it
- Customers who don’t pay on time
- Customers who try to renegotiate the price after the job has been completed
Sixty-four percent of home improvement customers said that the key determining factor in selecting a contractor was a personal recommendation from someone they trust, and 70% of the contractors said they believe they were chosen because of the quality of their workmanship or past work experience with the customer or an acquaintance of the customer.
Only 2% of the customers who were polled said that they would choose contractors based on their good looks, but a small number of the contractors participating in the surveying, all of whom were male, said that customers chose them because they’re “hot and everyone knows it.”
Tied for the least favorite part of the home improvement experience for customers were negotiating prices and “feeling weird about having a total stranger in their home.” A close third was “feeling like you have to watch them all the time.”
Contractors said that the most unpleasant part of their job was dealing with customers who change their minds, followed by “constant complaints and nitpicking,” having to negotiate prices and feeling like they’re being watched.
When contractors don’t like a customer, they most commonly try to get out of the job by overpricing it, but one-third said they will simply say “thanks, but no thanks.”
The surveys delved into the issue of personal hygiene, homing in on bathroom privileges and where contractors answer nature’s call and how home owners feel about their facilities being used:
- Nearly 70% of the customers said that they have no problem letting contractors use their home bathrooms.
- Fifteen percent said they would offer contractors the use of their bathroom, but would hope they didn’t take them up on it.
- Ten percent said they would change the towels and clean up the bathroom after a contractor used it.
- Only 1% said they would put the bathroom off limits to contractors.
- When contractors are working outside, 74% of their customers said they would let them inside to use the bathroom; 11% would say yes and immediately regret it; and 8% would tell them to find someplace else.
- Of the contractors working outside, 44% ask the home owner to use the bathroom, 26% run to the nearest gas station or convenience store, 22% use a portable toilet on site and 12% drive to a fast food restaurant. Eleven percent said they head for the nearest tree.
The Kimberly-Clark research also took a closer look at job site preparation and cleanup:
- Sixty percent of contractors said they put down tarps or drop cloths before starting a job to minimize the mess, and 10% wear protective clothing such as gloves, coveralls or masks to keep clean.
- Forty-two percent of customers said they would be thrilled if contractors used disposable shoe covers to protect floors and 20% said they would use a contractor again simply because of this. Sixty-eight percent of the contractors said they would be happy to wear shoe covers to please the customer, while 14% said they already did this or took other precautions to protect a customer’s home from traffic and debris.
- Fifty-six percent of home improvement customers said that contractors generally cleaned up everything and left their home immaculate, while 26% said their contractors usually left a mess.
- By contrast, 90% of contractors claimed to clean up everything after finishing a job. Only 1% confessed to packing up their tools and leaving the cleanup up to the customer.
Results for the customer survey were based on telephone interviews with 348 adults who had a contractor of any kind do work in their home within the last few years.
There were 401 participants in the contractor survey, including home remodeling contractors, painters and carpenters, electrical contractors, landscape contractors, plumbers, handymen, tile and flooring contractors, roofers, HVAC workers and others. Fifty-one percent of the respondents were owners, 34% were employees, 14% were managers and 1% held other positions.