My daughter has a toy drill set at home. It’s a plastic drill with a tiny motor that puts over-sized plastic screws into a plastic board. Except the tiny motor isn’t really strong enough, so when she presses down with the drill, you can feel it slow and chug. If you’ve used cheap, DIY tools—basic, low quality tools that are good enough for Do-It-Yourself projects around the house, but not for professional jobs—you’ve had the same experience that my daughter has pressing her toy drill down with all of her strength. It’s not the professional choice. Let’s take a look at the difference between using cheaper, easily-available DIY tools vs. professional contractor tools from one of the best pro brands, why you would choose one over the other, and how you can get help from experts in the field to find the best tool for the job at hand.
Factors to Consider Before Buying from Big Box Stores
When buying tools, the main factors that affect your purchase are knowledge about the tools, the availability of the best tool brands, and the difference in price.
With the internet, you’d think it would be easy to type “best tool brands” into your computer, find a name, and go make a purchase. But you’ll get thousands of results, and it’s hard to know if what you find is actually the best. You’re better off speaking to an actual pro who knows what they are talking about when it comes to buying the best professional contractor tools. Experts will be able to talk to you about the types of work you generally do, determine what tools you need, and know from experience which are actually the best tool brands to buy. Hunting the aisles of your local big box store for an employee doesn’t always translate to “finding an expert.” Many of those folks, while sincere and well-intentioned, aren’t experts with years of experience behind them. You’ll want to go to a company that hires professionals, because they serve professionals.
Better Quality Inventory
Availability of quality brands is also an important issue when you start shopping for tools. Big box stores definitely carry many products, but their goal isn’t just to provide professional tools. They want to cater to casual home improvement needs, with cheaper DIY tools for customers who just need to do around the house projects. That means their space for higher-end tools is limited. They may carry one or two different brands, but there’s no guarantee that they will be the best tool brands for serious projects, just the brands that contracted with them. If you want a selection that caters specifically to professionals, you will want to find a store whose primary purpose is to supply pros like you. On top of that, big box stores may not carry the specialized tools that, say, an electrician or a hardscaper needs. Generalized inventories are only great for generalists, but that’s not who you are.
The Bottom Line
Finally, let’s talk about cost. It’s no secret that you can go to a big box store and leave with a portable band saw for under $100. It’ll have a new blade and will cut through your first job or two just fine, but just like my daughter’s toy drill, you’ll feel that DIY level saw come up short as it attempts to do the more serious work that you want to take on. How long before it breaks, or you have an important job that requires a better tool? Buying the best tool brands built specifically for professionals may cost more, but with that increase in cost, you’ll see a huge increase in quality.
Professional tools are made with better components, like better motors and more durable casings. They are made for heavy use by professionals that will put them to work daily, not for putting together prefab furniture every once in a blue moon. And that isn’t limited to tools with internal moving parts. If you’ve been around enough work sites, you know the value of even simple tools like a tape measure or a wire cutter. Professional tools can take a beating, so if you drop a wire cutter while up on a lift, you have a much better chance of it surviving the fall. Better components don’t just mean better performance now, they mean a longer life for the tool. If you spend 30 – 50 dollars (or more!) a year every year to replace a cheap DIY tool, you’d be better off spending $150 on the professional tool that can last you a decade.
A Tool That Always Works
In the end, what you really want is to have a tool so good that you don’t have to think about it. A tool that always works, so your job always gets done. So you can spend your time thinking about bigger issues like getting larger, better jobs and providing quality work to your customers. Talking to pros who cater directly to the needs of contractors, and buying professional contractor tools built to last will let you know with certainty that they will work for you at the level you need and for longer. It may seem easy to head to a big box store and pick up cheap DIY tools on the day you need them, but as a contractor you know the value of doing things right rather than doing them easily. Your tools are the bedrock of your business, so invest in the best professional tools out there and give your business the best foundation it can stand on.