Friday, March 22, 2013

video blog 3: rules of Thum

Yesterday Nate and I finally agreed on a stone for our bathroom vanity. We learned a lot through the process and I have developed a few rules of Thum that I would offer up as advice and that I will take with me the next time we are in the market for a stone counter surface.

Rule #1: be nice. This works any time you are shopping for anything and especially something that requires a service to be performed (like stone fabrication). We stopped into one fabricator to ask about price and to look at remnant slabs and we got to talking with this guy, Xavier. Nathan is always getting to talking with people and I think that is one of the greatest things about him. Anyway, at one point Xavier opened up about the fact that if you walk into his store and you are cold or demanding then you get one price, but if you are nice then you get another price. He quoted us the nice guy price and it was really competitive. Sales people and fabricators want to work with and help out the nice guy and I can't blame them. If you are a jerk then there just might be a hidden surcharge.

Tips for being nice:

  • Take your time and make small talk.
  • Ask questions about the person's personal life or their profession. "How long have you been doing this?" or "Is that a picture of your dog? What breed is he/she?"
  • Everybody likes to be the expert about something so if you make them the expert then they will feel good. And they are the expert on stones. 
  • Ask, "How's your day going?" Then ask follow-up questions.
  • People are inclined to like you if they think you like them. So smile and act like you like them. Better yet, find something you can genuinely appreciate about the person and they will feel appreciated.

Rule #2: location, location, location. We found that the price for a stone slab or remnant was much cheaper in a location where there was a high concentration of suppliers. When we checked at showrooms that were further away from "granite row," where the competition was stiff, the price was much higher. Like hundreds of dollars.

Rule #3: you pay for pretty showrooms. Whenever we walked into a place that had a sexy showroom with samples, showcases and beautiful salespeople galore, the price of the stone product was higher. We could usually tell when we walked into a building if we would be able to afford their stones. These rules are not hard and fast, by any means. For example, Xavier's showroom was beautiful and they had a great logo but they offered one of the best prices we found on fabrication (granted, that was the nice guy price). 

Rule #4: money talks, cash walks. This is the primary content of today's video blog and the point is this: there is the price of a product and then there is the price of a product if you pay in cash today. Always let the person in charge know that you want to deal in in cash up front. If they give you a price and you feel like they could go lower because of your comparison shopping or because of the vibe you are getting, it doesn't hurt to ask, "Would you take $X in cash?" Nathan and I find that, most of the time, they say yes. Or they give you a price that meets in the middle. Even at big-box stores we have found this to be true. 

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