The remodeling industry has a growing problem on its hands that must be addressed immediately.
Remodelers Boost Customer Confidence With Warranties
Remodelers can boost customer confidence and increase referrals by offering customers a third party warranty. Members of the Bonded Builders Home Warranty Association of Boca Raton, Fla., are backed by a comprehensive warranty program that provides "peace of mind" protection for both the remodeler and the homeowner.
Bonded Builders formed in 1989 with the purpose of writing warranties on new homes. In 1999 it saw revenues of $4.4 million, and in 2000 it merged with Bankers Insurance Group of St. Petersburg, Fla., who supplies Bonded Builders with the liability policy. This merger is the first and only new-home warranty company that is owned by a national property and casualty insurance company.
"We have always had the remodeler warranty," says Al Freedman, Bonded Builders'''' Director of Special Warranty Programs. "But we have completely revised it to offer the remodeler flexibility in terms of what they can provide to their customers."
One of these revisions lets the remodeler select individual warranties or combine them to best meet the needs of each specific job. "If a remodeler does a job that doesn''''t require structural work, than there is no reason for the remodeler to pay of a structural warranty." Available warranties are:
To become a Bonded Builders member, the remodeler''''s activities and financial condition are screened to determine if the remodeler meets the technical competency and financial standards established by the Bonded Builders. Following approval, the remodeler pays Bonded Builders an initial non-refundable membership fee of $295. The fee includes set up charges for brochures and other point of sale material, underwriting, inspection and the approval process.
If a problem were to arise between the remodeler and the homeowner, Bonded Builders arranges for and mediates conciliation proceedings at no charge to the remodeler. Should a dispute occur that can not be resolved through conciliation, Bonded Builders arranges for third party arbitration.
For the remodeler, the warranty establishes customer confidence in knowing that a warranty company protects their investment. This in turn provides credibility to the remodeler, who gains a competitive edge. Such features as the appliance warranty, which extends coverage of the manufacturer''''s warranty up to five years with no deductible, can increase the remodeler''''s sales potential. "Remodelers that are members of Bonded Builders provide something to their customers that most remodelers don''''t have access to," Freedman says.
Remodelers also have access to free brochures that Bonded Builders prints. The content is customized to provide information about Bonded Builders as well as the remodeler. "We can be a marketing and productivity tool," Freedman says. "We help the remodeler sell their product. When they leave a home, they can give the owner not just an estimate, but also a description of the warranty and what the homeowner can do with it."
For the homeowner, the warranty can save money. "To get an annual service contract would be more expensive," Freedman says. "With the warranty, the cost to the homeowner is so low." All the available warranties are transferable should the customer sell their home within the specific warranty period, a feature that can serve as a selling aid. Most importantly, the homeowner is assured that their investment is protected. "A Bonded Builders warranty builds confidence," Freedman says. "The homeowner knows that the remodeler is not going to be here today and gone tomorrow."