The Trades Give Customers Their Money’s Worth
I tune in to one of those online neighborhood chat groups where people often exchange referrals for various businesses. Almost every time someone asks the group to recommend a plumber or other trade provider, it is couched in terms such as: “One that charges a reasonable price.”
They never seem to specify a “reasonable” price when asking for referrals to restaurants, lawyers, doctors or any other business apart from the trades. It bugs me when people don’t mind spending a couple of hundred dollars for dinner in a fancy restaurant but complain about spending that much for a critical home repair. This has caused me on more than one occasion to speak out in defense of trade companies. My rants go something like this:
What’s a “reasonable” price? Price cannot be intelligently discussed without also raising the concept of value. No matter how tasty, a candy bar or ice cream cone loses value beyond a few dollars in price. On the other hand, many people are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars more for premium autos compared to most popular models. Where does trade work fall on that spectrum?
Many people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for living room furnishings, but get upset when a plumber, electrician or HVAC technician charges a similar amount to make sure they have indoor sanitation, heat in winter and a/c on sweltering summer days. What’s a “reasonable” price to pay for having lights that go on and off with the flick of a switch, or automatically to save energy when someone leaves a room? How much is it worth to access fresh water, hot or cold, with the simple turn of a faucet? What’s a “reasonable” price to pay to get your home’s mechanical and electrical systems working again when they break down?
Depending on where you live in the country, having a toilet installed can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands, especially for fancy fixtures that pamper your tush while eliminating nasty waste from your home. That toilet is likely to function with minimal repairs and maintenance for a generation or more. Many of you reading this no doubt have returned to your parents’ home for visits and used the same plumbing fixtures you used as young children. Don’t you think that has at least as much value as a new comfy chair or decorative wallpaper?
Homeowners take those things for granted until a furnace stops working or lights go out. When you stop to think about it, even the most expensive trade providers in a given market provide a lot of value for the services they offer.
Sure, you can shop around and almost always find someone to do the work fairly cheap, but you better make sure that trade worker will do the work properly and make sure it continues working for a long time. It’s time to stop thinking about the price of trade services and pay more attention to the value provided.