I stumbled across an interesting discussion on the Consumerist message boards. A man called a contractor to schedule an estimate for a project. The scheduler asked if his wife would be present and refused to come out unless she was there during the estimate. The homeowner was baffled why this would be necessary and theorized it was because the contractor wanted to make a high-pressure sales pitch and play the husband and wife off one another.
Sounded like a reasonable assumption to me until I read the responses. One of the posters pointed out some contractors do this to protect themselves. Since both the husband and the wife own the home, the contractor does not want to begin any work that the two don't agree upon. Another poster who owned a painting business did this because he would go out, do an estimate with just one homeowner present and then two days later the homeowner would cancel because his or her spouse did not agree with the work. He put the policy in place to avoid wasting his time.
I'm going to go with the latter argument. I believe the contractors are looking to protect themselves rather than introduce high-pressure sales tactics. But that's just me. What are your thoughts? Post your comment below.
It is probably good business to have both the decision makers involved if you want to close a sale. Ultimately however it is the buyer who makes the call so if this consumer does not feel comfortable with the contractor he should not use them.
I am a sales rep for a large, reputable home improvement company. For all the reasons stated, it makes little sense to demonstrate a product to one homeowner. As a professional salesperson, I will do everthing I can to close a deal without pressuring potential customers. If it is necessary to put pressure on someone to close a deal, they are simply going to cancel after you leave anyways. The main reason not to demonstrate a product without having all decision makers present is because when both homeowners actively participate in making the decision, then both homeowners must have all the information they need to make a decision. If I demonstrate a great product that costs twice the next person's estimate, it is impossible for the absent homeowner to understand what they are getting for their money. Any company that does not fully explain their company and product to all decision makers is truly doing a disservice to the absent homeowner. After all, if you had a seriously ill child, wouldn't you want to be present when the doctor explained his diagnosis and recommended treatment? Home improvements are no different. For most people, their home is their largest asset, and it would be silly to make a decision without being front and center to ask all questions. And, it is not fair to make a sales rep come back to explain everything all over again to an absent wife. From a sales rep's perspective, it is imperative to have all decision makers present. From a company's standpoint, you are asking for trouble if you allow only one homeowner to move forward without the other being fully apprized of all aspects of the project. There are many criteria that I have before I spend time with someone--having all decision makers present is just one of them. The last thing I am thinking of when I ask for all decision makers to be present is how it is easier to use high pressure tactics or play one off the other. I understand the initial gut reaction for thinking that way from a homeowner's perspective, but when you put yourself in a professional company's shoes, you realize that it is highly unprofessional to do it any other way. Some times I even take customers to other company websites to show them what is available, a great place is Trueestimate.org--they provide an impartial analysis for different improvements. I set up a program where I have unlimited access for a nominal fee per use in a home. This has really helped me show customers that I am only there to inform and help them with their improvement.
I understand all the reasons stated, some seem more valid than others. I wanted to remodel my bathroom but was denied because my husband wasn't available. I tried to explain that he was working in another state and would not be available until after Christmas but I was paying cash not financing it. ( I thought that would make a difference). Still no deal. To add insult to injury he was the one that wanted the darn project done to start with. Still I think there are enough contractors out there needing work during this recession so I don't think I'll have a problem finding someone.