HOW TO FIND A GOOD CONTRACTOR
(AND TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID A BAD ONE)
How many times has someone asked, if you knew a good contractor they could use? (Roofing, plumbing, drywall, paint, electrical, ect. The list goes on and on.) People ask me all the time.
Now since I am in the construction business, I do have some connections with whom I feel comfortable referring. However, if I don’t know a contractor personally, I will not refer them.
This is because the last thing I want to do is suggest someone who doesn’t do good work. Guess who the person I refer is going to be mad at if my referral doesn’t work out? You got it, me. Been there, done that.
(I got myself in enough trouble as a teenager to know that sometimes saying nothing is better than saying anything at all…)
No one wants to work with someone who does a bad job. (At least no one I’ve ever met…) People want a contractor, or anyone they do business with, to be honest, timely and skilled in their craft. The good news is it’s 2019. That means it’s easier than ever to find a good contractor to do business with!
The Trouble With “Word of Mouth” Referrals
In my opinion the best way to determine whether a contractor is good or not, is still by word of mouth. However, the problem with word of mouth referrals, is your options are heavily restricted by who your close contacts know in a particular line of work. Also, imagine if you needed something obscure, like rats removed from your crawlspace.
(I know that’s a bit dramatic but stick with me here…) Chances are no one at church knows anyone who does rat removal. Even if they did you probably aren’t wanting to broadcast to your small group that you currently have a rat infestation under your house. (You know how people at church talk sometimes…) That’s why researching a contractor’s online reviews is another great option to determine whether they are worth hiring or not.
Big Advancements in Online Research
In the past crooked contractors could easily get away with doing bad work. Back then unhappy customers didn’t have a platform where they could express their displeasure to a larger audience.
Now a days the internet serves as the ultimate platform. Past and present customers are able to let each other know whether a contractor did good work, or not. What a marvelous time to be a consumer!
In the Past
Imagine if you lived in Indianapolis in 1995 and a contractor you were working with did an awful job. Even worse, let’s say he made no effort to try and make it right. Back then you could tell your family, friends and neighbors, but more than likely that contractor wouldn’t have been affected by your dissatisfaction. His pool of business would have been so large that a small trail of unhappy customers wouldn’t affect his bottom line.
Fast forward to 2019. If that same contractor gave you the run around now, the power is in your hands. You now have the ability to broadcast your negative experience with hundreds of thousands of people in an instant. (Good for you, bad for him…)
Websites like Google Reviews, Angie’s List, Yelp, Home Advisor and Facebook have allowed customers to share their experiences with one another.
By doing this you and your fellow consumers can promote good contractors and expose bad ones. What a powerful tool that is! Ill give you some free advice, use it to your advantage. (Don’t be the guy or girl who throws their back out lifting a heavy box when a dolly was sitting right there the whole time…)
Online Research Tips
The best part about these online resources are they aren’t mutually exclusive. If you are looking for a contractor I’d encourage you to see what previous customers had to say about them on multiple websites before you hire them. Also, just because someone refers you to a contractor doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go and check them out for yourself.
Keep in mind that a contractor may have a high rating, however if they only have 1 review that isn’t enough in my opinion to prove that they do a good job. (A blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while…) You want to find someone who has a high rating, with a lot of reviews, over a long period of time. (Like Restorex Disaster Restoration for example. 😊) Consistency is key.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Just because a contractor has a big reputation and good commercials doesn’t mean they also do a good job. In my experience the companies you identify as major players in a given industry are often the worst ones to hire. Here’s why:
Advertising is expensive. The contractors who are on billboards, radio and TV in your local area spend a lot of money for that exposure. As a result, they have to charge more for their services than smaller companies to make up for that cost. Furthermore, since they are able to afford such a large audience they will continue to get business whether they do a good job or not. New customers will continue to call them because they identify with their brand, not because they’ve heard, seen or experienced how good they are at what they do.
You don’t have to take my word for it though. (Reading Rainbow Shout-out) See what people had to say online about some of the most recognizable contractors in your area. Their previous customers may not share the same warm and bubbly experience as the paid actress on their awesome commercial.
Good Things Come in Small Packages
When I’m hiring a contractor I look for a small company with good reviews where the owner also does the work. (With maybe a helper or two) In the construction business we call these contractors “owner operators.”
The reason I hire these guys over large companies or franchises isn’t because I’m just a super nice guy. (Even though I think I’m decently nice…) The real reason is because in my opinion you get a superior service at a more affordable price.
Contractors who are owner operators rely on their reputation to sustain and create business for themselves. They don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising out there to attract new customers.
As a result, if they don’t do a good job no one is going to call them back or refer them to a friend. Also, since these contractors don’t have huge advertising budgets, large warehouses or fancy trucks, they don’t have to charge you as much for their services as the bigger guys. (That is what I like to call a winner winner chicken dinner.)
Free Advice Alert!
In closing, my best advice, is to hire a contractor who does quality work at an affordable price because their livelihood depends on it. Big companies and franchises are going to continue to get business whether they do a good job or not. If you do your research and go with a smaller company you’re going to have a good experience with the contractor you hire. I guarantee it!
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