The simplest defense when getting a patio cover bid is to always get 3 or more estimates.
Sadly, even two isn’t good enough. It’s just too easy to call the two most visible patio cover companies and end up with the two highest priced ones… leaving you to think that the high prices they are asking for is the normal cost to have shade installed.
Sarah recently told us that she had acquired 4 patio cover estimates because she couldn’t understand the prices she was getting. The first contracting company spent 3 hours with her praising their company, their products, and their service before giving her a price of $14,938. When she said thank you, but that she was going to get a second bid, the rep offered to lower the price – provided she buy today. After another 30 minutes of uncomfortable haggling he continued to reduce the price until he was at $11,737 – but she HAD to buy TODAY. Now frustrated, she asked him to leave.
Uncertain if his “today only” price was a good value, and frankly, second guessing her resolve to get another quote, she quickly asked for another bid from another company. This rep showed up 30 minutes late without an explanation or apology, took some fast measurements, and then offered a general price of $6950 on a carbon sheet of paper. No strings, no price drops. He stapled his card on the sheet and left without asking if he could answer any further questions. Apparently he was running late to his next appointment as well…
When she called the first sales rep back to inquire to the huge discrepancy, the rep emphatically explained that it couldn’t possibly have been a true apples to apple comparison. After all, the only way to reduce the price that much was to cut corners! Why else would their prices be so low?! And btw, he offered to honor that “today only price” if she would sign that day as well.
Now even more uncertain she decided on a third bid to break the proverbial tie. If the 3rd bid was high, then that was likely the price for a quality installation as the first rep suggested. If the price was low like her second bid, then the first was, in fact, price gouging. Imagine her frustration when the 3rd bid came in at $9689. Almost exactly between the two! And, of course when she asked about this with her 3rd sales rep, he couldn’t offer an explanation other than his prices were what they were. He was new at the job.
Clearly, a 4th patio cover bid was necessary to do what the 3rd couldn’t. So she asked another contractor to come out and take a look. She kept to herself that she already had 3 previous bids. She wanted him to be unbiased in his pricing. When he finished asking her some basic questions and explained his warranties, he took some measurements and opened his laptop. After entering his data, he offered a discounted price of $7,123. He had some of the same discounts that the other companies offered, but instead of holding them back to see if she would purchase at the full retail price, he simply offered them because they were available, and that was why his price was as low as it was. He earned her business, and she got a great value.
As you can see, she nearly fell for the high pressure sales systems that many large companies brainwash their reps with. These systems are designed to short circuit the common sense decision making processes that we all instinctively know. They prey on our desire to save money and find a great deal by fabricating a “one day only” super-duper sale. They prey on our fear of missing out (more commonly known as FOMO these days. lol) And most cleverly, they use their 3 hour demonstration to “obligate” you to buy. After all, what kind of homeowner doesn’t at least do a “little” business with a kind hearted rep who just spent 3 hours educating them on the amazing quality of their company and products? Especially after they pointed out the dangers and risks that surround their current home? They’re practically saving your life! .. and the great new is… it happens to be on sale today!
1.) Be clear up front that you already have other patio cover contractors scheduled to come out. That will suck some of the wind out of the reps sail, and let him know that you won’t pull the trigger – no matter how good the “today only sale.”
2.) If during the scheduling process, they will not make an appointment with you unless you and your partner/spouse are there – odds are, they’re going to try to “one call close” you. Be ready.
3.) READ REVIEWS. Believe us when we say that you’re not the first person they’ve tried this with. Read the reviews that specifically discuss their scheduling, and sales processes. These are reviews from people who didn’t buy and saw the “real” side of the company’s tactics.