It happens all too often, and the stories are always heartbreaking. Another vulnerable older adult fell for a scam and lost their savings, dignity, and more.
Elderly financial abuse is more than just a sensational headline. It’s an epidemic and one we all have a responsibility to address. According to the National Council on Aging, “estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.6 billion to $36.5 billion annually.”
You may be wondering, beyond having concern for my own elderly loved ones, why should I be worried about this as a contractor? Unfortunately, a staggering 12% of elder financial abuse is committed by businesses, including unscrupulous contractors looking to make a quick buck at the expense of an unsuspecting victim.
Further, if you’re like us, you take great pride in your home improvement business and its reputation. All it takes is one elderly client to feel mistreated and leave a poor review or, even worse, pursue legal action, to do critical damage to your business. These nine recommendations will help your senior clients feel respected when using your company to complete their work.
Avoid Aggressive Sales Tactics
This should apply to every bid your team provides, but you should take special care to avoid aggressive sales tactics with older adults and other vulnerable populations. Such techniques include limited-time offers, assumptive closing, quick push to sign documents, guilt-tripping, coercion, exaggerated damage, etc.
Keep Your Elderly Loved Ones in Mind
When bidding on a project for an older adult, keep your personal elderly loved ones in mind. Treat your potential client with the same respect that you would if you were bidding on a project for your elderly family member.
Provide a Written Contract
Hiring out home improvement work can be stressful, especially if it is an unplanned repair. During stressful events like this, many find themselves agreeing to things they don’t need just so that they can move forward with a fix. We recommend providing a written contract for the older adult to review and sign before moving forward.
Have a Trusted Family or Friend Review the Documents
A good practice when winning a bid and moving forward with the contract is recommending that the older adult have another family member or friend review the agreement, proposed work, and other related documents. This will help ease their worries and provide you with another layer of protection.
Give Them Time
After bidding on the job and providing your written contract, give the older adult plenty of time to think it over before they move forward with the project. This will help them avoid feeling rushed and pressured to make a decision they may regret.
Limit Down Payment Requirements
According to industry websites, the standard down payment is 10% of the total job cost or $1,000, whichever is less. Do NOT ask for any more than that. Additionally, avoid taking cash for down payments; instead, ask for a check.
License and Identification, Please
A common scam from unethical contractors looking to take advantage of older adults is to steal a legitimate contractor’s license number and pass it off as their own. Make sure you provide them with your license and identification. It can also be helpful to point them toward the local licensing board’s website so that they can self-verify your information.
Minimize Project Scope Increases
Another common tactic of unscrupulous contractors is to falsify or exaggerate the need to increase project scope once they have started work. Sometimes projects legitimately need to be revised once labor starts, but we recommend minimizing the number of changes you make to a final accepted contract.
Highlight the Fine Print
You don’t need to highlight the fine print in your contract. Still, we suggest being open and transparent about any fees, limitations, or expectations your company has when a client signs the dotted line.
Partner Forward with Salal Dealer Direct
As a trusted customer financing partner, our team works diligently with contractors nationwide to ensure their customers are protected and provided with affordable financing for various solar and home improvement projects.
We can offer some of the most competitive rates and dealer fees because we’re part of a member-owned credit union. That means our profits return to our members—and business partners—through lower rates and fewer fees.
Our Dealer Direct Financing programs feature:
- An online loan application with fast credit decisions and a high approval rate.
- Terms and loan amounts are available to fit various budgets and project sizes.
- Partners pay ZERO dealer fees on our standard program.
How to Start Offering Salal Dealer Financing to Customers
We’re serious about helping your business grow with fast funding times and personalized support from a dedicated and experienced team of lending specialists. To get started, our dealer application process requires these documents:
- Completed dealer questionnaire
- Current income statement and balance sheet
- Copy of business license and/or contractor’s license