Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mike Holmes Answers His Critics - Commentary

Yesterday, I posted part two of the video interview from Due to time constraints, I delayed actually commenting on the video until today. I'll try to be as short and concise as possible.

First, the video:

With that, I think it's time to run ***THE HOLMES SPOT DISCLAIMER*** The Holmes Spot is an unofficial fan run blog. Any and all opinions expressed are my own.

First of all, I think it's great that a group of Mike's critics actually invited him to give his side of the story instead of just bashing him relentlessly on their website as so many often do. For that I give major props. It's obvious they are very critical of Mike, but at least they're trying to be fair.

The video starts off with the host asking Mike a rather slippery question. To summarize, he asks if for the purposes of TV he looks for the worst of the worst in contractors instead of focusing on the thousands of good contractors. This question is slippery because it isn't really a question, it's more of a critique of Mike's shows veiled in question form. The host asks with a flustered laugh "Can we see a couple of good stories?" I took a minute and actually thought to myself if it could be possible for Mike to do a show about good stories in contracting. How would that actually pan out? Would Mike tour a newly renovated home and point out how the the rooms are warm, the roof is properly sloped and shingled, and the soffits are properly vented? What would be the purpose of the show? Mike answers the host bluntly, "For a television show, who wants to see a good story?" He then explains the entertainment aspect of his shows, and how people enjoy watching the bad that happens to good people being made right. It's drama, it makes for good TV, and Mike gets to educate people as he goes which is important to him.

Mike also touches on the fact that he does feature good contractors on every show. He shows what happens if you hire the wrong guys, and then in stark contrast, he shows what can happen when you hire the right people for the job. And as Mike says a little awkwardly during the interview, his guys are not the only good guys out there. His go-to guys that he commissions are only a representation of the larger population of contractors worldwide. In other words, as someone who lives in the US, I can't hire Frank the Canadian electrician to come rewire my house. But, I can hire someone who lives in my area who has the same level of expertise, someone who isn't going to do a hack job and accidentally burn my house down. As a homeowner, is that unreasonable for me to ask from a professional? I don't think so.

Then, the heart of the issue, Mike talks about his "70 percent" remark he made in Reader's Digest. He tries to soften it a bit at first, but then comes right back around and defends the remark, stating that there's really no other way for him to put it. There's nothing that can be done about the small percentage of "ugly" contractors - they should be in jail as Mike states. But the 70 percent of contractors that Mike deems "bad" can be salvaged, according to Mike. When the "bad" contractors attach themselves to the good ones and learn to become better, then the industry will see the percentage of "good" contractors rise.

The interview then takes a turn in a different direction, talking about money and expenses. This was a little hard for me to follow, but what I pieced together is that the host is bring up the criticism that Mike can only do what he does because someone else is paying for it, be it the TV show, sponsors, or because the contractors are working for free and donating all of their supplies. The host states outright that Mike is purporting himself to be the right guy for the right price, but that in reality, the contractor with the lowest bid usually gets the job, and the lowest bid will usually never get the kinds of results that homeowners come to expect by watching Mike's shows. "A regular contractor can't do that. He would like to..." the host states before Mike interrupts, "But this is a TV show." Mike explains to the host that because it's a TV show, most of the time the homeowners pay little to none of the cost, mostly due to the fact that they can't because they have no money left. He also clears up the misconception that he's able to do whatever he wants for free, stating that he gets what he can donated or at a reduced cost, but a lot of times he's got to pay his guys and pay for his products, and sometimes the money comes out of his own pocket.

Part II of the interview ends abruptly at this point, leaving a bit of tension that gets the viewer excited for the next portion of the interview. The host makes some rather smug comments in the end cap portion of the video which I felt were a little disconcerting. It's apparent from the host's remarks that Mike did not sell him on the idea of his show. "Good contracting doesn't necessarily make good TV," he states sarcastically. There are plenty of shows on HGTV about "good" contractors coming in and helping homeowners remodel their bathroom or living room or backyard. Mike's show is unique, and fills a totally different niche than these other shows do. This idea seems to be completely lost on the host. He then makes what I feel is an outright absurd statement about Mike implying that he does not pay his contractors, totally speed bumping over the fact that moments before, Mike was talking about money coming out of his own pocket to pay for projects. First and foremost, I would direct the host of this interview to the recent CBC radio interview Mike did in January of this year where Mike talks explicitly about making sure his crew members are paid. As far Mike not paying his contractors like Frank the electrician, Steven Graves the roofer, the Bowen brothers, and Martin the plumber, I would direct the host of this interview to their respective websites where they rightfully boast that they are the contractors used by Mike Holmes. Let's for a moment assume that these guys receive absolutely NOTHING for their labor and they donate 100% of their materials, which is false according to Mike, they still receive the biggest endorsement one could possibly get by being featured on Mike's shows. There's not a dollar figure in the universe you could attach to that kind of advertisement and brand recognition. Being a preferred contractor of Mike Holmes is a coveted and very lucrative position, and for the host of the interview to purposely dismiss this fact is outright deceptive in my opinion.

Looking forward to part III of the interview.

1 comment:

  1. Your commentary was right on the money. What so many contractors don't seem to understand is that the fact that Mike has the means to spend more money to fix the problems has nothing to do
    with doing the job right.

    How many times have we seen umpteen hidden junction boxes or no junction boxes at all, just wires twisted & covered with electric tape. Kitchen cabinets installed sloppily,drain pipes not glued together, the list goes on & on.

    The problem with so many contractors, as well as a lot of people in non-contracting jobs, is
    that they have an attitude problem. "Let's get this done as quickly as possible, get the money & move on."

    I understand that contracting is not an easy job. It's either feast or famine. If they're busy with a large job they may not be able to accept other jobs & getting future jobs may be difficult because people don't want to wait 3 or 4 month (or longer). A series of small jobs may not generate enough revenue to cover expenses.

    None of this is Mike's fault. The people he helps don't demand expensive fixes, they're happy just to have someone help them. If Mike is in a position to give them better than what they expected, why is that a problem?

    What difference does it make whether lousy contractors make up 70% or 50% or 30% of the total. There are to many glorified handyman operating who claim to be contractors who have neither the knowledge nor the skills of true professionals.

    Just one small example: A neighbor asked me recently to take a look at her stove. it wasn't working. She had called an appliance contractor who came, checked the electric panel, tried various knobs on the stove, didn't find anything wrong, told her she needed a new stove, charged her 60 bucks for 15 minutes & left.

    When I went to check the stove, I found the problem & fixed it in 5 minutes. There are separate fuses on an electric stove for the heating elements, the oven & light. 2 fuses needed replacing. I had the correct sizes on hand since I have a panel with fuses. Problem solved, no charge. This lady was frantic, thinking she might have to buy a new stove.

    It's not quite correct that Mike never comments on anything that he finds that was done right, he does so frequently. But to have a show pointing out how perfect everything was done would be boring. Mike would become a tour guide instead of a contractor.

    Yes, he irritates & annoys a lot of people because he's a crusador & they always ruffle some feathers.

    The host of Canadian Contractor obviously had to thread a fine line with being fair with Mike but to also not antagonize his members.

    I can understand the frustration of contractors who are struggling to keep their heads above water (I have several as neighbors, all their wife's are working) but taking shots at Mike is not going to improve their situation.