The Doris promise, -and why I started a Remodeling Company


When I ask most business owners why they started their own business some say, – “to be my own boss”, others say “to be financially independent”. – But I find that most will say “because I want to help people and make the world a better place”. I find most entrepreneurs really are here to make a difference in the world, their world, and their communities. Some fight for injustice, are lawyers and doctors while others own a restaurant within their communities by providing a place to eat at lunchtime. Regardless of what type of business they own and operate, the reason is always the same. “To help people”. 

Working for other companies, I had this passion inside of me to help my clients by providing the best customer service I knew how to give. The problem was that it was not my business and I could not make any final decisions, even if I noticed the customer was in the right. It took about 11 or so years before I started my own business. (You can read all about it on my previous blog) I always knew I would start my own business one day; this was a promise I had made to God. When first started the business, I didn’t immediately start doing remodels. I was only selling supplies locally and on Amazon, such as plumbing, tile, granite, and cabinetry. I would also sell my design services and had the capability to provide 3D drawings. I had refrained on doing any installations, partly because I hadn’t obtained my contractors’ license and I was not partnered yet with any general contractors who were licensed. I still had great recommendations to give to my clients of contractors that I had worked with throughout the years. After 2 years in business that changed when a sweet elderly lady walks into my office; we’ll name her “Doris”.  

You see Doris was a kindergarten teacher who had just turned 72! This sweet woman was still working and could not afford to retired and widowed. She had come to me because she needed to redo her hearth to her fireplace. She noticed that I sold kitchen cabinets and said: “gosh, I wish I would have met you 2 years ago when I redid my kitchen”. I asked “if you already have a contractor why are you looking for someone to redo your fireplace? They can easily do that”. She explained to me that she no longer wished to work with that contractor again. He had taken over a year in renovating her kitchen and had cost her over $100,000! In shock I asked, how big was her kitchen and what did she get done? Doris showed me pictures, her kitchen wasn’t very big. All she had done was buy new cabinets, granite, and tile nothing extreme such as moving a low bearing wall, removing asbestos, moving plumbing and obtaining building permits. I then asked Doris if she knew the cost of her home in the recent market, she didn’t so we did a quick search on Doris’ home value was a little under $200,000. I felt horrible for Doris, this contactor had completely ripped her off. Her kitchen remodel (based on what I saw) could have easily cost her around $30,000 and not the $100,000 she had been charged. It also should have not taken over a year to finish, but 6 weeks at most. I regrettably explained to Doris, she would not be able to sell her home and get her money back on the kitchen renovation. She agreed. 

I not only felt bad for Doris, I was outraged! I decided that I would now start to provide installation services for the product I sold. I also started to ask my clients more questions just like I did with Doris. I want to know what the home will be used for. Some homes are rental properties, and we create a budget for that. Nothing custom or high end since it’s an investment property. I do the same for any home that is getting ready to be put on the market for sale. If the client is wanting to remodel their forever home and have no plans for resell within the next 5 years, we use higher-end cabinets that will hold up the test of time. We also look at the overall cost of the home and figure out a comfortable yet realistic budget for the value of the home. Because of what happened to Doris, I want to ensure that my clients are getting what they pay for and not ripped off by dishonest contractors. I felt a moral obligation to my community and clients to be well informed when it comes to home renovations. 

I thank Doris for this revelation, and I want to ensure no other woman, widowed or not older or young gets misleading information and overpay when it comes to Kitchen and Bathroom remodels. I am not sure if I am making the world a better place or not, but I do know that I have the ability to help my clients and the investment in their homes. This is my client promise to help one Doris at a time, one homeowner, at a time, in what I call -The Doris promise.  

Your Designer 

Vivian Sojo