What do you do when a contractor refuses to meet unless both spouses are there?
Some homeowners are met with a condition when scheduling an in-home consultation for a home improvement project, which seems baffling in 2017: contractors and companies refuse to schedule meeting unless both homeowners usually husband and wife are present. Take a guess to whom this happens more frequently: women.
Based on anecdotes we hear from our customers and our knowledge of the industry, this is still the case when one spouse, more often a woman, assures the contractor that they have complete spousal sign-off, or have complete decision-making and/or fiscal authority over the project.
So, what’s driving this behavior? Possibilities include:
- Old school sexism?
- Risk aversion on the part of contractors?
- High-pressure sales tactics?
It's likely a combination of these and more, but let's look at this phenomenon and how we recommend responding or handling this if you're faced with it. We should make it crystal clear here that this concept is fundamentally at odds with how we approach our homeowners and their projects.
Sexism vs. Risk Aversion
The refusal of a contractor to meet without both husband and wife present can feel condescending and offensive. Having an appointment denied or cancelled for this reason is upsetting and feels antiquated.
It’s highly possible that this behavior stems from a sexist industry view of female homeowners and their autonomy in making home improvement and purchasing decisions, although this is not an explanation that any contractor will willingly recognize.
Instead, one frequent explanation given by contractors is that this behavior is a company policy rooted in risk aversion and a desire to get a final answer as easily as possible. Contractors may be afraid of a lawsuit if the work is completed without signoff from both people, and not getting paid if homeowners are not in agreement over a project.
While the risk aversion explanation is certainly plausible, it’s difficult to ignore the possibility that this behavior is rooted in something else altogether: the contractor’s bottom line.
Sell Baby, Sell
When both homeowners are present for an in-home project quote, it allows the contractor to put pressure on them to buy their services on the spot -- another thing Renoviso do. This requirement disarms a frequent roadblock to making a sale: It’s impossible for spouses to say they need to talk it over with each other if both are present!
An in-person sales pitch puts pressure on customers to accept what might seem like a limited-time sales opportunity, but the discount often stems from a high markup anyway. Think along the lines of, “If you sign up now, we’ll give you an additional 20% off your new window installation! Can’t say that the price will be as good tomorrow, though…”
This is a serious red flag for any purchasing decision let alone a significant investment in your home. This stems from some of the industry problems that Renoviso addresses: a lack of price transparency, price consistency, and honest advice.
So What Do I Do Now?
Find a contractor who recognizes and respects how decisions are made in your household. It's 2017 and that's how home improvement should be! We know of a certain company...
Renoviso takes a modern approach to home improvement rooted in the idea that different households have different decision makers. This is an issue that many of us have experienced at one point or another, particularly women. We know not to make assumptions on decision making ability or responsibility based on gender. This is your home project, and the team here at Renoviso will accommodate however you choose to handle or run it. We are here to support and advise, not to tell you how to make decisions about your home.
The root of the requirement to have both spouses present is sexist, but it is also driven by the contractor’s sales priorities. This can manifest itself through their high-pressure sales tactics. So be sure to take your time when choosing a contractor, and pass on companies that pressure you to have both spouses present for an in-home consult.