This week, I decided to invest in rain gutters to protect my new deck from water damage. I did a quick internet search to find who installs in my area and got trapped by one of those lead generators.

One click and they know who I am. Ten minutes later, I got a call from one of the big national rain gutter and gutter protection companies.

I had planned to use a local guy who advertises on telephone poles, but needed help finding his number. So while waiting to find it, I let the big-time company set an appointment for their salesperson to come out. I had no intention of using them, but I like to watch a sales presentation now and then. Who doesn't?

The salesperson painted the rosiest of rosy pictures about their wonderful, loving, caring, and reliable company, which has had billions of installations and a guarantee that reminded me of Arlo Guthrie's “Alice's Restaurant”: A thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat.

“The price is $4,650, but if you buy today, it'll only be $3,880.”

The salesman followed up on the price with his power statement. You know, that one statement you must say to get your customer to jump up and down and beg you to take their money.

"Mr. Koop — I'm sure you know that the most important thing about letting us take care of this for you today is that our company is the biggest, the best, the most reliable, and loved from sea to sea."

I replied, "Your company is the least of my concerns. The most important thing is having quality people do your installs."

"Mr. Koop, we have installation teams all over the country; they are highly trained and will meet and surpass what we promise."

"How do you find such quality people when home service businesses across this great nation are starving to find them?" I asked.

Again, the salesman insisted, "Mr. Koop. We treat and train them well and guarantee that if you ever get a clogged gutter, we will give you all your money back."

So, his answer was that they have a great guarantee.

Then came the surprising close; he must have gotten this right from some master sales trainer.

"Mr. Koop, I see you are a contractor and contractors are the worst customers, but you have been very nice so let's cut to the chase. I have another call to get to, so I'll give you my absolute lowest price. I will make $163, which pays for my gas and keeps this a closed sale instead of a miss. $2,780 and you won't ever have to climb a ladder to fix, adjust, or clean your rain gutters."

Ok, I went for it.

I don't know how else to say it. The next day, this big-time rain gutter company sent out two sloppy installers with no skill or common sense and were just here to nail on some downspouts and get to their next job. Unbelievable.

The salesman was on auto-pilot when I called him and sent him the pictures. He sounded like he was reading from a script and completely lacked empathy. I won't waste your time with the conversation because you all know what it's like to deal with auto-pilot salespeople and careless installers.

The impossible task of finding reliable technicians and companies to work on homes has been the worst thing about 2022. It has impacted all of us.

Here is your chance to get ahead in 2023. Hire and train decent workers and supervise every job. Quit promising the moon and delivering mud. I know you can’t be everywhere all of the time. Although, it would be nice if you could go to every single job to inspect what you expected.

My advice:

Do not take on more work than you can perform at a very high level. Most companies do a better job at $300,000 per year than they do when they get over a million. You don’t need to accept every call just because the phone is ringing.

Choose your work and ensure that your team can represent the company you built. By doing this, you can stand behind your promise.

As they say, “There’s a lot of room at the top because most people don’t want to go the extra mile.” It will be easy to beat your competition by inspecting what is going on in the field and bringing back the level of service that your customers deserve.

If you deliver the same or much better quality than your salesperson sold, you will have a firm foundation for the new year.

P.S. I ran them off the job; the big shot called from the home office and promised that if I let them finish the job, he would drop it to $1,480. So $4,650 - $3,880 - $2,780 and now $1,480 if I let them come back and finish the job. I said sure, but I would not pay a dime if it were not the same work the salesman promised.