Ben Franklin: The Father of Home Improvement

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I was sitting in the office of one my favorite contractors when it hit me like a bolt of lightning—a sign with a single quote attached to his door.

It could have been meant as sage advice for contractors and homeowners alike. But it struck me most because it expressed the ethics behind Hire it Done. Though he couldn’t recall the source of the quote, he said he made sure all of his employees impressed the concept upon their customers.

When I got home, a quick search online attributed the quote to Ben Franklin. One quote led to another, and I quickly realized how much of his wisdom applied to home improvement.

So just for fun, here are some of Ben’s great quotes and how I feel they relate to my field, starting with the one I read on my contractor’s door.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

This is what we try to convey to all the homeowners we interact with. It’s tempting to go with the lowest priced contractor – everyone wants the absolute best deal. But there is a huge difference between value and price. You need to consider the price over the life of a project, not just the initial cost. Experience, warranty and responsiveness are invaluable traits in a contractor, and any of them can leave you bitter no matter how great the upfront cost was.

“Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

If you’ve hired a contractor to remodel a kitchen, finish a basement or create an addition, you know why this quote applies. When a project begins, your contractor visitor is a welcome sight every morning.  They show up on time, work hard, respect your space and start to make progress. After a few days, they disrupt your routine, track dust through your house and leave your toilet seat up.

For this very reason, I’ve created the Remodeling Survival Guide that I send to every homeowner who wants to start a lofty project. By understanding the process and optimizing communication, your visitors won’t smell so quickly!

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”

Many examples relate to this Franklin-ism. When you get a new roof, the focus is always on the shingles. But seemingly minor details like flashing, vents, insulation, gutters and skylights can cause major issues. If you cut corners on them, your new roof may literally spring a leak.

By the way—if you have skylights, you should always replace them with a new roof. This relatively minor expense will prevent big problems down the road.

“Well done is better than well said.”

Forget the sales pitch. Check references.  Examine similar projects. Talk to other customers.  At the end of the day, it is not how great the contractor “seems” to be – it’s how good their work is that counts.

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

This is for the contractors. It doesn’t matter how many great projects are under their belt—screw up once and word spreads. This is why it’s important to find a contractor who is committed to solving a problem.

In home improvement, problems will arise. A strong contractor will work with you to fix it rather than run to avoid it. The money they make from your project will pale in comparison to the business lost by not building a strong reputation.

I can’t say Ben Franklin had home improvement in mind when uttering these gems, but for the contractors with Hire it Done, they’re words to live by.

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