BOB HEIDENREICH: Selling The Complete Deck Project (Part 2 of 3)
Part 2 of 3: How to demonstrate deck installation.
You can’t fully plan a completed deck project without first understanding your customer’s needs, and then recommending the right products to build the deck of their dreams. Once a customer is open to recommendations and understands that you, as a professional, have their best interests in mind, they’ll be more likely to trust your advice on the installation of their decking project.
Once a customer understands which products are best for their particular decking project, you need to then show them how it’s installed. Always sell decking that has an ESR or CCRR report an evaluation service report. These are reports that inspectors look at to make sure that you have followed regulation in both products and procedures.
Paragraph 4 or 5 of most ESR or CCRR reports state that, “if this report differs from the manufacturer’s published instructions, this report shall govern.” So think about an ESR or CCRR report as a ruling document. If that report didn’t exist, in most states, you shouldn’t use that decking for a deck project.
When you read an ESR or CCRR report, it gives you certain conditions as to how you can use the product. Sometimes an ESR or CCRR report can differ from a manufacturer’s published instructions. If that is the case, then remember that an ESR or CCRR report always overrides the manufacturer’s documentation. Any worthy inspector should also be aware of this.
By planning ahead, you know what your finished project installation should look like, and what it will take to get it to customer’s standards and inspector’s codes. With that in mind, you can work backwards from your desired end result. Be sure you provide the right decking, the right fasteners, the right railing and make sure that the structure and the components are all correct.
If, in the future, a deck fails or has a problem you can always refer back to the ESR or CCRR report to verify that you sold the customer the right decking, fasteners, clips and other materials. This should provide you peace of mind that you would not be responsible for the problems with the deck.
Even if a homeowner insists on installing a deck contrary to the directions, I suggest that you always insist that they buy the proper fasteners. In the end, they can even come back to the store to return them if they want, but at least then you will have a paper trail showing that you recommended the right products. That kills the argument of “they never told me that.”