Of the many columns I’ve written in the 30 years since Ask the Builder was founded, this one will stand alone. I think it’s important for you to know why I changed careers from full-time builder, remodeler and master plumber to syndicated newspaper columnist to video personality.
It was always a question of money. I started Ask the Builder to save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars. Right now, you need this help more than ever, as the financial storm clouds are rushing towards you and everyone here in the United States.
It’s time for you to preserve every penny you have. It’s time for you to avoid everyone who comes after you by using deep psychology to extract your money from your bank accounts.
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I’m sure you realize that inflation is raging globally. On top of that, in my view, there is a deep recession looming. It’s a perfect storm that will put millions of homeowners under extreme stress. I’ll try to relieve some of that stress now.
It was my wife’s idea to create Ask the Builder. She said to me one day after I was selected as one of the top 50 renovators in the country, “Tim, why don’t you take your book idea and write a column in a syndicated newspaper?” You see, I had always wanted to write a book about how landlords were played and exploited by many entrepreneurs.
Not only do many do substandard work, but some also use psychological tricks to persuade you to sign a contract. It infuriated me when I found out that one of these crafty entrepreneurs had beaten me out of work. In some cases, I’ve been called in a year or two later by an owner to fix any errors that could have been avoided had they realized they were being manipulated.
Companies of all kinds use this psychology on you and me every day. There are many tricks of the trade.
The one that seems most innocuous, but is quite powerful, is the psychological trick of reciprocity. You may have fallen victim to this easy at the grocery store.
Have you ever put one of those little pieces of cheese or summer sausage on the end of a toothpick in your mouth?
If you did and left without buying the cheese or sausage, you probably felt guilty. If you bought the product, they got you.
How Do Home Improvement Sellers Use Reciprocity? Simple. They tell you that if you accept their offer, they will add this or that for FREE. The free item or service they say could be worth hundreds of dollars. How many times have you pulled out your credit card for a one-time purchase offer?
Another very powerful psychological trick is called social proof. You see this one all the time in TV commercials, where four or five paid actors tell you how the product relieved their pain, solved this or that problem, or made them lose weight.
After seeing about four of these people praising the product, your brain is screaming at you, “Hey, they know something you don’t know!” See it must be true. If it worked for them, it will surely work for us! That roofing contractor sitting in your living room invokes social proof by showing you photos of all the recent work he’s done in your neighborhood. Social proof is extremely powerful and you need to be extremely careful. Get the names and phone numbers of the owners of the houses in the photos. Call them for the facts. See if they would hire the roofer again.
That said, the most powerful of all the psychological tricks played on you is scarcity. When someone does something rare, you could sign a contract faster than you would run your pregnant wife to the hospital.
How is scarcity used on you by the roofer, remodeling contractor, vinyl siding salesman, or gutter company? It’s so easy. They say, “This offer is only valid tonight. Once I leave the house, the offer expires. You see they make the lower price special rare.
Scarcity is also invoked if you hear a seller say that such and such damage will happen to your home if you do not sign the contract. For example, overflowing gutters can cause massive foundation failure, you can get seriously ill from mold, or a myriad of other scary things.
If you really want to avoid being taken to the cleaners by sneaky salespeople or others who want to control you, I urge you to read this fascinating book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” I discovered it about 20 years ago and it changed my life. Go here to get a copy: https://GO.timcarter.com/cialdini.