Setting Expectations

I believe the most important thing for any business is to set expectations properly.  Since this is rarely done, simply because marketing does not work that way, it is up to us as consumers to coax this out.

It is far too common nowadays for people and businesses to promise the stars and not deliver.  Part of this is our own fault as consumers, because we want to believe we will get the stars, even if all the signs say otherwise.  Our nature is to see the best in people and believe what they are saying (I know, I know, this is debatable), but the alternative is not very appealing.   I’m not suggesting that we should assume everyone is a liar or incompetent, I am just saying that we should be critical of what is being presented and try to separate fact from emotion.  This can be difficult for many, and a little easier for others (engineers and accountants), but we can all do it with some discipline and it is necessary.   Whether it is cost, schedule, performance or any other aspect of a product or service, establishing accurate expectations is paramount.  That is, assuming nobody likes to be disappointed.

Below is a letter of reference from one of our customers speaking to this.

To Dan Hill at Hillson Homes,

I am writing this letter to say how pleased i have been with the 2 projects we have undertaken with Hillson Homes. They built our home 7 years ago and just recently built a rental garage suite for us. I would use them again without hesitation on any future projects.

I have always been impressed with their organization and honesty. Their timing has always been exactly as they say – projects are finished on time. Both projects were on budget, under budget in fact (5-10%). When getting the original quotes it is important to understand that they try and include potential expenses and contingencies (you might need to replace that water line, so let’s make sure it’s in the budget). It is unlikely, in my experience with our new builds, that unexpected expenses will arise that they did not foresee. This may result in the initial cost estimate being a little high, but it is far better to be prepared for it, and end up under budget, than forget big ticket items and come in over budget at the end. They plan their projects well, and keep a tight schedule to ensure clients are keeping up with their selections so as not to cause project delays. I am fully convinced that if 2 original cost estimates from different builders come in at very different prices, that one of them is wrong (misunderstanding of level of finishing, forgetting things, etc) and I doubt it will be Hillson’s.

The quality of workmanship is excellent. They build quality, taking pride in their work, and are not afraid to try new things. Our house was one of their early eco-builds where we all learned some new things, and this garage suite was a unique project as well. They don’t take short cuts – everything is done properly (and we are quite particular). And they are a great group of people and I trust them; I enjoy working with them and would recommend them to anyone.


Be Honest With Yourself & Do Your Homework

When considering building a new home or renovating your existing home, it is important to be honest with yourself and do your homework.

There are many builders and renovators out there, but not all are created equal.  They offer different products and services, just like any industry, and knowing what product and service you are looking for is very important.  Most of us know it is not possible to get the best quality for the lowest price, but in practice, that is what we all try to achieve, or at least most of us do.  We should not kid ourselves, this is not going to happen.  If we are looking for the best quality or the best service, that comes at a price.  The challenge is to realize that you are not going to get a premium product or service for the lowest price.  This is no different than expecting to pay the same price for a “Ford Focus” as a “BMW 5 Series”.  That is not to say that the Ford Focus is not a good product or will not fit some people’s needs, but if a consumer is looking for high performance, German engineering, they are likely going to be disappointed with the Focus.

The important thing to keep in mind here is to be honest with yourself and figure out what your real needs and wants are.  Once you have done this, find a Builder/Renovator who is going to be able to deliver on that.  Find one that offers whatever level of product and service you want, who also provides good value.  Do your homework and pick two or three to interview. Speak with their previous customers and ask them pointed questions.  Explore how those companies operate, and make sure they are going to be a good fit for you.  Most of all, make sure that what they are telling you for product vs. price is realistic and reasonable.  If they are telling you they can provide the BMW 5 Series for the Ford Focus price, there is something wrong.

See our related blog on “Setting Expectations