How to Prevent Mistakes in Home Improvement Purchases

Smaller businesses have a vested interest in making sure that you are happy but if you are dealing with a large national company, my guess (from considerable experience) is that you have only a 1 in 7 chance that the salesperson will prioritise your needs before their own.

You probably think that it is up to the designer or salesperson to give you the correct advice to ensure that you are happy with your purchase. I wish I could tell you that you are right to think that but you must remember that the salesperson’s job, first and foremost, is to sell to you.

Why are your needs not the priority?

Most, if not all, of the national home improvement companies, use the services of commission-only or commission motivated salespeople.

Most have good intentions when they start out, but the pressure to sell means that if they risk losing a sale rather than tell you the truth, they will put their own needs first.

It is not enough to trust the salesperson to tell you the minute detail of the product. Nor is it realistic to expect that your order will pass through the hands of numerous employees without mistakes. There are steps that you can take before the final decision to ensure that the purchase has been completely thought through and that complaints are justified and not created because you do not like it or is not as expected. Customers who do not like what they have bought find more faults.

A little time invested may save hours after the event.

Online buying guides are available, but they are biased toward the companies that publish them and do not point out the pitfalls. They are still worth reading. This not a guide to choosing your product. It is a list of common mistakes to be aware of. A little time spent before the purchase is well invested and may save hours and even days after the event. If you have ever spent an hour on the phone waiting for customer service or wasted a day waiting for a replacement delivery, you will know exactly what I mean.

1. Check the measurements.

You or your installer must check the measurements and the plan. Mistakes are made in the transfer of information from tape to paper to computer to order. Common mistakes are made when there is a 0 in the measurement. 1010 mm is written as 110 cm. Measurements in feet are converted at 30cm to the foot. Centimetres are written as millimetres. These examples and others can make a difference especially with orders for kitchens which have the most potential for mistakes They either will not fit, or the installer will adapt (bodge) it to make it work. 1 cm out on blinds or shutters means that they will either not fit or you’ll have gaps. One of the biggest suppliers of shutters replaces half of all orders because of mistakes.

2. Resist Making Quick Decisions Because of Fear of Paying More.

Most of the big companies push to sign during the first appointment and will offer incentives to sign there and then. There is no reason not to sign immediately if all of your questions are answered and you feel 100% confident. Conversely, there is also no reason why you should. There really is no such thing as a deal that is only available on the day. It is a tactic designed to make you fear missing out.

3. Getting 3 Quotes.

The idea of three quotes is not just to compare price. Most buyers pick the first three on Google but that creates a narrow view if all three companies are similar in the way they work. Often customers have told me that they got the other two quotes just to check prices but what you really want is three different ideas and suggestions. Once you know exactly what you want, you can then get three quotes that are like-for-like.

4. Opting for the Lowest Quote.

If you have checked all of the specifications and your quotes are like-for-like, it seems to make sense to opt for the company offering the lowest price. The difference that you can’t see is the quality of installation and customer service. Make sure that the lowest quote is from a reputable company.  Of course, you don’t want to spend any more than is necessary but you also want a good quality product that will last for years.

5. Not Being Honest With Your Salesperson.

From the point of view of a salesperson who is genuine, it is hard to do a good job for a customer who is not honest. It does not matter too much if a customer says that the budget is £7,000 when there is £8,000 available, nor does it matter if they say that they must ask someone else; skilled salespeople can deal with that. It does matter if pride stops a customer from saying that the budget is £4,000 and the salesperson is showing products that will cost double that.

The aim of the salesperson is always to sign an order. Regardless of ability, they know that the best way to do that is to design the product that you want at the price that you want. Sure, if you tell them that the budget is £8-£10,000, they will design to the upper amount but if you say that the budget is £5,000 when it is £8,000 you may end up with a design that you don’t want.  It is then difficult to say that it is not what you had in mind.  It is much easier to say you’ll think about it and start again somewhere else.

This is another example of when it is better to deal with an experienced designer. They quickly get past the distrust and have the experience to achieve the right design by reading subtle signals from the customer. As designers, we can only do our best work when given all the information.

6. Not Being Prepared.

The bigger companies will always want to send a salesperson to see you as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter to them that you may not be ready. The salesperson is only paid if they sell, so it costs them nothing. They will say something like, ‘the designer is in your area’ and ‘the quote will last 6 months’. The customer agrees, not realising that there is a good chance that they will be persuaded to sign an order.  FOMO – fear of missing it out is powerful. This means that often an order is signed without having the full information about what is available.

The best source for information is an experienced salesperson/designer but the chances of you seeing one, if your appointment is with a representative from a national company is slim. It is worth doing a bit of investigation of your own so that you can ask better questions when you do book a consultation. You don’t need to know everything but you do benefit if you have a list of the features that you consider essential. Often, these are forgotten in the excitement but remembered when it’s too late.

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