A Conversation About Perceived Value- Written by: Melinda Merk

“A customer asked a contractor how much it would cost to do a custom project. The contractor gave him a proposal: $4500. The customer responded: That’s seems really high.

The contractor asked: What do you think is a reasonable price for this job? The customer answered: $2500 maximum.

The contractor responded: Ok, then I invite you to do it yourself. The customer answered: I don’t know how to.

The contractor responded: Alright, then how about for $2500, I’ll teach you how to do the project. So besides saving you $2000, you’ll learn valuable skills that will benefit you in the future. The customer answered: Sounds good! Let’s do it!

The contractor responded: Great! To get started, you are going to need some tools. You will need a chop saw, table saw, cordless drill, bit set, router, skill saw, jig saw, tool belt, hammer, etc.. The customer answered: But I don’t have any of those tools, and I can’t justify buying all of these for one job.

The contractor responded: Ok. Well, then for an additional $300, I can rent my tools to you to use for this project. The customer answered: Okay. That’s fair.

The contractor responded: Great! We will start the project on Monday. The customer answered: I work Monday through Friday. I’m only available on the weekends.

The contractor responded: If you want to learn from me, then you will need to work when I work. This project will take 3 days, so you will need to take 3 days off work. The customer answered: That means I’m going to have to sacrifice my pay for 3 days or use my vacation time!

The contractor responded: That’s true. Remember, when you do a job yourself, you need to account for unproductive factors. The customer answered: What do you mean by that?

The contractor responded: Doing a job completely from start to finish includes time spent to plan the project, pick up materials, travel time, gas, set up time, clean up, and waste disposal amongst other things. That’s all in addition to the actual project itself. And speaking of materials, that’s where we will start on Monday, so I need you to meet me at the lumberyard at 6:00am. The customer answered: At 6am?! My work day doesn’t usually start until 8am!

The contractor responded: Well, then you’re in luck! My plan is to start on the deck build by 8am. But to do so we have to start at 6am to get materials picked up, loaded and delivered to your job site. The customer answered: You know, I’m realizing that a lot more goes in to a job than what a customer sees in the finished project. Your proposal of $4500 is very reasonable. I would like you to handle the project.


When you pay a professional for a project (whether it’s a physical project or other professional services), you pay not only for the material and work product. You also pay for:

  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Custom Skills
  • Tools
  • Time to plan
  • Time to prepare
  • Professionalism
  • Work Ethic
  • Excellence
  • Discipline
  • Commitment
  • Integrity
  • Taxes
  • Licenses
  • Sacrifices
  • Liabilities
  • Insurance

If you request a proposal for professional work to be done, please don’t disrespect a service provider by trying to get them to lower their prices. If their proposal exceeds your budget, there’s nothing wrong with getting other proposals. Just remember: YOU GENERALLY GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.”

Are you in need of assistance with an upcoming project for your home or association? Call us today at (630) 241-0001

MI Construction & Roofing – top quality, responsive and affordable…

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