The perception of the contractor could use a little sprucing up.
Adam McCaa, chief communications officer for Alair Homes, says the company is well aware of this and is successfully working to change that image.
“We are very process-driven. Everything is laid out, step by step, with the client — and everything is built around the foundation of transparency,” he says.
“Client control” is the motto that Alair, a custom home builder, commercial improvement and home renovation company, lives by. “These aren’t just words,” McCaa says. “We know how the customer feels.”
Alair, which has spread throughout Canada and now is breaking into the U.S. with its healthy first slate of franchises, understands that today’s customers are savvy and expect a lot when they begin building a home or tackling a renovation project. Alair is ready to lead them through the complicated process.
“It starts with helping the client understand the process,” McCaa says. “They watch HGTV and think they know, but there’s a lot more to it.”
Typically there’s been a fixed-price system, he says. The clients think they know exactly what they are getting, but materials can change and workers’ costs can skyrocket with this system. Suddenly deadlines are being pushed back and the cost for the clients jumps.
There’s also the cost-plus model, the cost plus the fee for the work. “But there can be changes. You think you’re paying 200K, then there’s a change order, so the cost goes up.” Sometimes inferior materials and products are used and the client is left in the dark.
But Alair does things differently.
“We understand that it’s a lot of money and time and will affect them and their family. We offer them options and get them to understand what we do. We walk them through the cost and timeframe. We work within their budget,” McCaa says.
The clients pick the products they want and they get the best price for them, he says. There won’t be a change-order fee, he says. Clients are walked through all the milestones with photos through Alair’s propriety software, which allows the customer to see everything.
“You have the control. … It’s all laid out. You have to work with the clients and find out what is a must. What are the priorities? Then you make it happen for them.”
Alair details the whole project, with deadlines. “A lot of times we are ahead of the deadline,” McCaa says. “But if we see a delay, we can change the project and talk about it with the client.”
The client has the ability to see everything going on with the project through the software Alair uses. That allows them to have the control.
“Transparency is paramount.”