D. Barrett Decorating - The Blog

Cost cutting or creating problems

There is right now a big demand for many services including decorating, so much so that I have seen many people claim they can decorate on social media, coming in with no knowledge at all, charging customers figures they've plucked from thin air only to vanish into said air when it becomes clear they cannot do the job. Over the past 6 years that I've gone on my own I've come across this many a time and this year it's only got worse. I've lost count of calls from customers this year saying their decorator has let them down, that the person they employed has done a poor job and scarpered with payment or that they had to kick them off the job once it became clear they wasn't a decorator. I do have sympathy, with demand so high now not everyone can wait two, three months for someone so inevitably they turn to whoever is free soonest and also cheapest. However is this creating a false economy? 

With that in mind, I thought I'd write about a few instances where saving a few quid ends up costing more than that. 

First off, automatically going for the cheapest quote. Ok so this can be down to a few things. They don't include materials, the decorator in question may genuinely not know their own worth and are blindly charging less, its being done as a job on the side from their weekly job, or they are plain and simple just not a decorator. The questions every customer needs to ask is, is this person going to give me value for money? Will my home be protected by their insurance in case of an accident? Will I get the quality expected from using a decorator? If the answer is no then walk away. I give all my customers a written quotation, full job specification and a copy of terms and conditions. Basically outlines what I have charged for and what the customer can expect of me, all this is backed up by a Dulux Select Guarantee. A perk of being a member of Dulux Select. Not every decorator will work like this, I don't expect them to either however you as a customer should expect to receive a written quotation detailing what you have been charged for and not to be stung by hidden charges at completion, plus all trades should have public liability insurance. 

Buying materials yourself. This isn't a bad thing at all, well as long as its decent materials being bought! You may think you've got a great deal buying a few tins from wilkos yet when the decorator has to charge for applying several more coats that £20-£30 saved on the tin of emulsion has now cost you £150. I've no problem with any customer supplying materials, I do make it clear from the outset if it doesn't cover I will be charging for extra coats. I've mentioned previously the difference between retail and trade paints and over the years I've used retail paints happily so not all are bad. But not everyone is trying to rip you off by buying materials. Yes there are plenty who will add a 20-30% markup on materials but same time the majority of every store you shop from does the same thing. The mindset of well that quote is cheaper cause its labour only often costs more when you come to buy them. I've had some customers actually say they've decorators turn up and say they need to provide brushes and rollers!! The reason I supply materials is I know which products work, which give the best finish and it saves you running around fetching them. And no, I don't add a mark up on materials :)

He painted my garden fence so he can do rooms too. Well, no he probably can't. Actually he can but not very good. So many times I've followed people who've said they had someone in who said they can paint only to find not one bit of preparation has been done. Theres a reason lot of domestic decorators have invested thousands into dustless sanding equipment, it's to give our customers the best finish we can. All this means we go that bit further in preparation. We don't just slap a coat of gloss on woodwork and jobs done. That in fact is one of the bug bears of the trade, gloss on gloss. Causes so much trouble when we come to do it properly and it just peels off in sheets, adds unforeseen time on jobs, arghhh just stop it!

The main takeaway from all this is to just weigh up what you are being offered as a service. Although I am a part of several organisations and do invest in tools and training to better myself, that doesn't mean I'm any better than others. All I can do is show you, as a customer, is what I offer. Two year Guarantee on my workmanship, backed by Dulux. Also a member of the Painting and Decorating Association and fully insured so no flyby night chancer. High standard of work, honesty and openness throughout, and above all else I put the customer first. I may not be the cheapest or the dearest but I am honest. I like to trust most decorators and trades are the same.