Friday, February 9, 2018

"Stressing Our CAPS Credentials As We Work With Consumers"

One of the biggest challenges facing consumers when they consider having repairs done to their homes or think about engaging in remodeling projects is locating a reputable contractor that they feel they can trust and that will provide good value at a fair price.

An issue that many people run into - especially those who use contracting services rarely (or possibly have never done so) - is unlicensed people who are agreeing to provide contracting services. Often the consumer is unaware of the difference between using an unlicensed contractor compared to one who is duly licensed. They are interested in getting the work done and may not think to ask this question about their credentials - being more impressed by someone's personality or the price quoted.

When someone chooses an unlicensed or untrained provider, there really is no recourse for them when the work is not done correctly because there is no appeal to a regulating agency or authority to sanction the work, any procedure for getting their money back, or a way to keep it from happening again. It is a challenge for licensed contractors competing against unlicensed providers because the unlicensed ones don't have the overhead or insurance and often the requisite training that goes along with being able to serve the consumer effectively.

To illustrate just how important it is to use licensed contractors - and for our purposes, CAPS trained as well - think back to when we trying to get our driver's license and the amount of work, practice, and study that went into that - so much that none of us want to do anything would jeopardize our ability to keep it. Our livelihoods and our independence depend on being able to drive. Yet, there are people who seem to like living on the edge by driving with a suspended or revoked license - or no license at all. We know what a hazard it is being on the roadway with people who aren't properly licensed or who don't seem to care about being licensed.

Now, take that same type of thinking and apply it to unlicensed versus licensed contractors. No wonder there is a concern by contractors who have taken the time and money to obtain the proper credentials, and no wonder consumers should be concerned when they are approached by unlicensed ones.

So, what if consumers insisted - through an educational campaign and word-of-mouth program that stressed this approach rather than a formal regulation or mandate - that any general contractor or remodeler they wanted to use for remodeling projects in their home (and it doesn't matter what size the project might be or how much it would cost) had to be licensed first of all, but more importantly for us (and to their benefit as well), has to have a CAPS designation? 

Those of us who have earned the CAPS certification know what we have learned in the process and the basic level of knowledge that we have obtained. We also appreciate that the program has become quite well-known in recent years to provide a degree of familiarity and level of comfort among consumers, as well as other professionals. 

Consumers are aware that the CAPS designation represents additional training and effort on the part of the contractor (and other professionals who might be involved in the project such as designers, architects, occupational therapists, and equipment or durable medical equipment specialists) to understand ways to modify and improve their homes in a safe fashion - regardless of their present age or physical condition - that will allow them to live more comfortably in their space and to use it well over time also.

Consumers should be insisting that a CAPS professional be the one or ones to help them in such an important endeavor as modifying their home to accommodate their changing needs or address a specific issue that they or a family member has. We understand their needs - both now and over time - better than someone who might approach a remodeling project for them without such training or without the network of resources that we typically bring to a renovation project. Someone without the CAPS training is not going to be able to offer the same level of service that we can.

Many consumers have heard of CAPS training and are likely to seek us and request that we help them. This is why our marketing efforts - websites and social media profiles, for instance - must mention, discuss, and stress our CAPS credentials and our ability to help consumers modify their homes whether it is a general update or remodel or one done to address a specific need. For those unaware of what CAPS is, we need to take this message to the marketplace.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.