Last fall, I submitted a claim to my homeowner’s insurance for the replacement of the roof of my house. The shingles on the roof had been damaged by a hail storm that had occurred earlier in the year. A few days after I submitted the claim, an insurance adjuster came to my house and verified that the shingles had been damaged. A week later, he provided me with an estimate of the cost to replace the shingles. I told him that I wanted to get estimates from some contractors before I decided what to do. I then contacted a few roofing companies and asked them to provide me with estimates.
One of the companies that I contacted had glowing reviews on Angie’s List (angieslist.com), a home service website that allows users to publish reviews of local businesses and contractors. After I read the reviews on Angie’s List, I checked the company’s Google reviews and there were several 5-star reviews on Google.
I called and talked to the owner of the company. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “Ray.” I explained to Ray why I was calling, and he proceeded to tell me how great his company was at replacing roofs. After asking me several questions, he told me that he would look at my roof and prepare an estimate.
The following day, he called and told me what it was going to cost to remove and replace the shingles. The price he gave me also included the cost of replacing the existing five-inch gutters with six-inch gutters.
I discussed the estimate with Ray and he explained the advantages of having wider, six-inch gutters with larger downspouts. He also explained the type of superior quality shingles he used, the difference in the way his company nailed the shingles, the high-quality felt paper that his company installed underneath the shingles, and the excellent work that his company did for its customers.
I told Ray that I was going to wait until winter was over before deciding on which contractor I was going to hire for the job.
A couple of weeks ago, after receiving a check from the insurance company for the amount of money that the insurance adjuster and I agreed upon, I called Ray and told him that I wanted to meet him at my house to discuss what his company would do if I contracted with him to do the job. A few days later, we met at my house to discuss what needed to be done.
Within five minutes of his arrival, Ray began telling me that in addition to new shingles and gutters, I also needed new fascia and soffit on my house. The fascia that he was referring to was the colored aluminum sheets that are attached to the wooden boards that cover the ends of the roof trusses. The soffit that he was referring to was the colored aluminum panels that cover the underside of the part of the roof that extends past the walls of the house.
In an authoritative tone, he told me that whoever installed the fascia and the soffit didn’t know what they were doing. He said that it was the worst job he’d ever seen and that the fascia and soffit needed to be replaced. I told him that I wasn’t going to do anything with the fascia and soffit, and that I was only going to replace the shingles, the gutters, and the downspouts.
Without missing a beat, Ray began pointing out areas of the fascia where the joints were not perfect. He also pointed out a few areas where there were unnecessary creases. He then commented on the number of nails that had been used on the fascia. When I told him that it didn’t matter how many nails were in the fascia, he counted — out loud — the number of nails that he saw and said that the nails made it look like an amateur had done the job.
He then said that as long as his crew was doing the work of putting on new shingles and gutters, it would make sense to also replace the fascia and soffit so that the existing fascia and soffit wouldn’t diminish the appearance and value of the house.
Ray didn’t know that while I was growing up, my Dad was a carpenter who owned his own construction company, and that I had personal experience with installing fascia, soffits, shingles, and gutters. I was also familiar with the terminology that he was using, and I knew what the end product was supposed to look like after installation.
Each time that I tried to direct our conversation back to discussing what we were going to do with the roof, Ray kept returning to the so-called shoddy appearance of the fascia and soffit. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he would charge to replace the fascia. His answer was, $3,000. I told him that his price was ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that I didn’t need new fascia. He again pointed out some minor defects in the way that the fascia had been installed.
I finally had enough of his negative comments and I said in a loud, firm tone of voice,
The only people who are going to notice any defects in the fascia or soffit are contractors who have experience installing fascia and soffit, and people who build and remodel houses for a living. If I have a party and invite family members and friends over to my house, none of them are going to look up and notice any defects in the way that the fascia was installed. And they’re not going to notice the way the soffit was installed. If you want this job, you need to stop talking about how the fascia and soffit looks, and we need to finish our conversation about what you’re going to be doing with the roof and the gutters!
Without blinking an eye, Ray said, “I understand what you’re saying, but as a contractor who never cuts corners and does only top-quality work, I have an obligation to tell my customers what they should be doing to make sure that their house has the best quality materials and looks better than any other house in the neighborhood.”
My immediate thought was, This guy really is a master salesman. There are a lot of people who would buy into what he is saying and agree to pay to replace the fascia and soffit.
While I admired Ray’s persistence and sales skills, I really was at the end of my rope with him. I said in a firm voice, “Ray, we’re done talking about the fascia and the soffit. I’m running out of time and patience. We need to fill out the paperwork for the roof.”
After we completed the paperwork, Ray walked over to his big, brand-new, beautiful shiny black truck and tried one last time to make a deal with me for him to replace the fascia. In response to his last-ditch attempt to sell me on more services, I said, “No, let’s just get the roof done.”
He told me how great of a job his company was going to do on the roof, and then he got in his truck and drove away. Five minutes later he called me on the phone and made a different offer for some other additional work that he had tried to convince me that I needed. I told him, “Nice try Ray. But I’m going to just get the roof done.” Before he hung up the phone, he again told me how great of a job his company was going to do on the roof and gutters.
He was one of the most effective salesman I’ve ever encountered.
The reason I’m telling you this story is because as soon as Ray started criticizing the fascia and soffit on my house, I realized that he was using a very effective, but little-known, manipulative sales technique that plays on a person’s emotions and usually gets the person to buy.
Next week, I’m going to tell you what that sales technique is and how it applies to our relationships with others and our relationship with God.