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Old 04-18-2015, 10:03 PM
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DVS Hardscaper DVS Hardscaper is offline
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Contending with unlicensed contractors

Many MD contractors do not know this, but the state of MD requires that PAGE ONE of a contract be pertaining to the MD Home Improvement Law. The state of MD has certain things that you MUST disclose / state on this page.

The state of VA is similar.

When I meet with a client I always tell them that I am a licensed contractor. I make humor of it and say "I'm not referring to my driver's license". I explain to them how using a licensed contractor protects THEM. I tell them what to look for on the contractor's business card, proposals, etc.

The problem is that the prospective client usually forget what I told them.

So I have taken Maryland's (and VA's) law of disclosing statements about licensing requirements one step further. I have made the page have a BOLDER more COMPELLING call to action:
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Old 04-18-2015, 10:45 PM
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Is that your literature or theirs?

"Additional fees will imply" doesn't sound right. I would think it should be apply.

Unless this is lawyer mumbo jumbo and they have some reasoning beyond typical usage?
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Old 04-18-2015, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by RedSox4Life View Post
Is that your literature or theirs?

"Additional fees will imply" doesn't sound right. I would think it should be apply.

Unless this is lawyer mumbo jumbo and they have some reasoning beyond typical usage?
The text in red is mine.

But you're right about "apply". Good eye. I had caught that but forgot to fix it. I believe I inadvertantly transposed the wording, as i had to retype some stuff.
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Old 04-19-2015, 03:35 AM
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I think you're beating a dead horse there, Andrew. Unlicensed contractors will always be out there doing work for people. Why? Because there is demand for it.

You can try to "educate" your customers all you want. But the truth of the matter is that many homeowners really don't care. Maybe they should. But they don't. What they care about is getting X done for Y amount of money. And many of them realize if they hire a licensed professional guy, then they aren't going to make that happen. They might PREFER to hire a licensed pro. But once they realize that's outside what they can afford they begin to settle for something less. Settle for someone who can hopefully get them what they want. And they figure the ball is in their court, because if the contractor doesn't give them what they want then they won't pay the balance due. So they figure there's little risk to them. Many times, they do end up getting what they want for the price they wanted. And the only thing they had to sacrifice was the fact that their guy wasn't licensed.

Now, they may realize down the road that they sacrificed even more. As their nice patio starts to fall apart, starts to fail, whatever. But may be a few years from now. And they'll realize they got what they paid for. But they still won't really care, because it was either that or nothing. They couldn't have afforded a pro anyway. Maybe next time they'll save up and hire a pro, now that they've learned their lesson.

You'll never beat the un-licensed guys by trying to warn off your potential customers about them. There are cheaper, unlicensed guys in all sorts of trades. Mechanics, electricians, handymen, you name it. Most consumers realize this. You're not telling them something they don't really already know in the back of their heads.

You'd be a lot more effective to focus instead on proving that your company IS professional, IS licensed, WILL stand behind your work, HAS been around a long time, HAS a ton of references.

I learned long time ago there were basically 3 classes of customer.

1) Those who have plenty of money and don't want to risk spending their money on anyone but the best. They don't care so much what it costs. They just want to make sure they're getting the most qualified and best.

2) Those who have a modest amount of money and would prefer to hire the best or hire a real pro. And are hoping they have enough money. But if they have to, they'll hire someone they deem not to be quite as good or quite as experienced or even licensed, in order to meet their budget.

3) Those who KNOW they can't afford a real pro and don't even call the real pros. These are the people who always go to Craigslist first, to find their contractors, mechanics, etc.

I learned that my main goal is to find and impress the people in category #1. I also learned that we can get a fair amount of clients from category #2, but it's a crap shoot. If they happen to have enough money to hire us, it may work out. But sometimes they don't. And there's no way around that. So it's not real smart to waste too much time going after this group. And I learned I don't ever want to even give an estimate to people in category #3. So we have ways of trying to avoid (or scare off) that kind of customer entirely.

What I'm saying is instead of trying to convince people in category #2 to not go for the un-licensed guys, instead quit worrying so much about them. Focus on appealing to and impressing the people in category #1 and your time will be much better spent.

I know you won't consider any of this information really helpful. You never do really consider any of my advice at all. I'm really writing all this in hopes that maybe someone else will glean some good information from what I've written here.
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Old 04-19-2015, 06:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimLewis View Post
I think you're beating a dead horse there, Andrew. Unlicensed contractors will always be out there doing work for people. Why? Because there is demand for it.

You can try to "educate" your customers all you want. But the truth of the matter is that many homeowners really don't care. Maybe they should. But they don't. What they care about is getting X done for Y amount of money. And many of them realize if they hire a licensed professional guy, then they aren't going to make that happen. They might PREFER to hire a licensed pro. But once they realize that's outside what they can afford they begin to settle for something less. Settle for someone who can hopefully get them what they want. And they figure the ball is in their court, because if the contractor doesn't give them what they want then they won't pay the balance due. So they figure there's little risk to them. Many times, they do end up getting what they want for the price they wanted. And the only thing they had to sacrifice was the fact that their guy wasn't licensed.

Now, they may realize down the road that they sacrificed even more. As their nice patio starts to fall apart, starts to fail, whatever. But may be a few years from now. And they'll realize they got what they paid for. But they still won't really care, because it was either that or nothing. They couldn't have afforded a pro anyway. Maybe next time they'll save up and hire a pro, now that they've learned their lesson.

You'll never beat the un-licensed guys by trying to warn off your potential customers about them. There are cheaper, unlicensed guys in all sorts of trades. Mechanics, electricians, handymen, you name it. Most consumers realize this. You're not telling them something they don't really already know in the back of their heads.

You'd be a lot more effective to focus instead on proving that your company IS professional, IS licensed, WILL stand behind your work, HAS been around a long time, HAS a ton of references.

I learned long time ago there were basically 3 classes of customer.

1) Those who have plenty of money and don't want to risk spending their money on anyone but the best. They don't care so much what it costs. They just want to make sure they're getting the most qualified and best.

2) Those who have a modest amount of money and would prefer to hire the best or hire a real pro. And are hoping they have enough money. But if they have to, they'll hire someone they deem not to be quite as good or quite as experienced or even licensed, in order to meet their budget.

3) Those who KNOW they can't afford a real pro and don't even call the real pros. These are the people who always go to Craigslist first, to find their contractors, mechanics, etc.

I learned that my main goal is to find and impress the people in category #1. I also learned that we can get a fair amount of clients from category #2, but it's a crap shoot. If they happen to have enough money to hire us, it may work out. But sometimes they don't. And there's no way around that. So it's not real smart to waste too much time going after this group. And I learned I don't ever want to even give an estimate to people in category #3. So we have ways of trying to avoid (or scare off) that kind of customer entirely.

What I'm saying is instead of trying to convince people in category #2 to not go for the un-licensed guys, instead quit worrying so much about them. Focus on appealing to and impressing the people in category #1 and your time will be much better spent.

I know you won't consider any of this information really helpful. You never do really consider any of my advice at all. I'm really writing all this in hopes that maybe someone else will glean some good information from what I've written here.
I hear ya Jim and I agree. And what you said are my thoughts as well.

Remember now, I stated hat The state of MD REQUIRES the 1st page of a contract to have information relating to licensing. (Spoken in a deep low voice) - ITS THE LAW!! I take pride in my contravt, do you think I want that crap on my masterpiece?

So, since page one is more or less wasted to conforming with state law - I've gone a little further. I can't use the page for anything else as the required statements take up so much room, so why not? The men don't read the page. But women read every word. (According to a study by a paver manufacturer)

VA requires certain statements as well, except the state of Va doesn't dictate that it must be on Page one.
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Last edited by DVS Hardscaper; 04-19-2015 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:22 AM
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RedSox4Life RedSox4Life is offline
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Jim Lewis-

You usually have nothing but awesome advice on here so I want you to know that I'm not trying to take anything away from your overwhelmingly positive contribution to this site....


But I disagree with you pretty strongly. True....a potential customer reading the above notice probobly won't miraculously change their opinion about the value of using legitimate licensed contractors. But the way humans work....we may hear something once and disregard it....but hear the same thing over and over from different sources over a span of time....and we start buying into it.

So the above notice in itself probobly accomplishes very little.....but it's just another little piece of the desired whole.
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:16 AM
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alldayrj alldayrj is offline
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Sucks you have to waste a page on that.
Are unlicensed guys really a problem by you? Even the shadiest guys here have one. Its only $250/year. I would be more interested if they had adequate insurance etc.
my beef is with the idiots working for free. Can we pass a law requiring guys to make a profit? Its insane this year. I'm not sure if customers are bluffing or what but one 19k job they said they got a price of 6700. And another 22k went for 12k. And no they can't possibly be that much more efficient etc
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Old 04-19-2015, 01:52 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedSox4Life View Post
Jim Lewis-

You usually have nothing but awesome advice on here so I want you to know that I'm not trying to take anything away from your overwhelmingly positive contribution to this site....


But I disagree with you pretty strongly. True....a potential customer reading the above notice probobly won't miraculously change their opinion about the value of using legitimate licensed contractors. But the way humans work....we may hear something once and disregard it....but hear the same thing over and over from different sources over a span of time....and we start buying into it.

So the above notice in itself probobly accomplishes very little.....but it's just another little piece of the desired whole.
No offense taken. Everyone has differing opinions. As long as we keep it cordial there's no offense taken. And I appreciate your kind words.

It's just we have one of the most difficult to acquire landscape licenses in the entire country here in Oregon. We also have some pretty strong enforcement of it. Big penalties for those who are caught doing work without the license and dozens of companies get fined every month and the offenders published in their public magazine. We also have organizations like OLCA, which is a landscaper-created organization pushing stuff like this - tell the homeowners about licensing and how they should make sure to hire licensed pros. We also have the LCB and the CCB at pretty much every home and garden show, every state fair, etc. All trying to get the message out to consumers. You have contractors out there trying to spread the word. And yet with all of this, probably 25-50% of the crews who do landscape or hardscape install work are doing work un-licensed. There is MILLIONS of dollars of work being done by these guys out there every day. Even with the penalties and education efforts and licensing efforts and all that - consumers CONTINUE to hire guys who are un-licensed. And many continue to pay the price.

And that's where we come in. Someone hired some Yahoo to build a patio who didn't know what they were doing and now they have a wreck. They learned their lesson and now they want a pro. Not because of the license, necessarily. They just want someone who knows what they heck they are doing!

For instance, we got a $65,000 hardscape job last year from a client who had what used to be a beautiful patio and outdoor living area. But the SRW supporting the whole thing was crap and the foundation for the 800 sq. ft. patio was crap. And over the years the entire thing looked like crap. We came in and re-did the entire thing and made it look beautiful. All because the client realized that they wanted someone who really knew what they were doing to make it nice and make something that would last. I have countless examples of jobs like that.

I've just found that it makes little difference. The cheapskates are still going to hire the cheapskate companies and the people who have learned their lessons and/or have plenty of money are going to hire the real pros. I just focus my efforts on going after the people in the latter category and positioning our company as the go-to company when you really want the job done right. I just think your time is better spent focusing on that then trying to fight what seems to be a losing battle.
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:49 PM
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4 seasons lawn&land 4 seasons lawn&land is offline
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Everyone hates government regulation and telling us what we can and cannot do, until it benefits them. Just thought I'd point that out.
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:05 PM
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alldayrj alldayrj is offline
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Everyone hates government regulation and telling us what we can and cannot do, until it benefits them. Just thought I'd point that out.
Yup 100%
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