Tips on Finding a Contractor
If you are planning to hire a contractor for a home improvement project, it’s extremely important to find one that’s a good fit for your job, your lifestyle, and your family. If you find yourself in need of a new furnace, a full paint job, or a major renovation, making a smart decision on hiring will go a long way toward ensuring a good experience. Here are five ways or tips on finding a contractor.
It’s amazing what Google and other online search tools can do today towards finding a contractor. Type in a few keywords and you’ll have a list of the nearest contractors shown on a map and lists of websites with even more contractors and reviews! What a resource! Or is it? Keep in mind that any contractor can buy their way to the top of the rankings on search engines, so the companies that are at the top of all the lists are not necessarily the best companies, but rather the ones that know how to leverage digital marketing.
Are the reviews worth reading? Absolutely! Not only will you get an assessment on whether a company you are considering will pan out or not, you’ll also get a quick peek into the wild, wild west of “online reviews!” Years ago, online reviews were viewed differently, as business owners and consumers alike were sorting through an entire new medium. Back then, consumers had the upper hand and would often post online reviews without much fear of retribution.
In the last few years, however, business owners have been fighting back. Many consumers are simply biased and not fair, and people ranging from restaurateurs to masons have retaliated! Today, most people can see through an unreasonably bad review and can also balance the overall tone and ratio of good to bad reviews.
While some consumers are quick to post a complaint online without ever contacting the company first, most people have learned to sort through reviews, take them with a grain of salt, and judge for themselves. Reviews can be a good resource, but stay local if you can and check real references – talk to friends and neighbors about their experiences with a contractor. Remember, not everything you read on the Internet is 100% factual. If you see twenty great reviews and one negative review, well, perhaps that person is never satisfied with anything. We all know people like that are out there. When finding a contractor online and reading reviews, you need to be able to read between the lines a bit and make your own judgment.
Signs of Pride
Many contractors will place a yard sign up when they are working for a homeowner. This is great advertising and a good gauge that you may want to hire a company. Companies that follow the rules and deliver quality service will be proud to put a sign up at every job! On the other hand, a company that shies away from posting signs might not have those same philosophies or that commitment to excellence. Putting up a sign is like an artist putting a signature on their work – if you’re proud of what you do; you want people to know it’s you! Finding a contractor that has lots of signs up in your area is the mark of a company that does a good job with high quality and great customer service – and word of mouth has gotten around that this is a contractor that can be relied upon and trusted.
While print advertising in local newspapers and magazines has certainly changed dramatically over the last 20 years, there are still many local publications that are a terrific resource for finding a contractor. Unlike digital marketing, which can “kind of, sort of” target specific towns, print media is a great way to find a contractor that wants to work in your town. If a company is paying to be in your local newspaper, it’s a good bet they want your business and will work hard for it. Again, it is always a safer bet to check references to be sure you are working with a truly professional company.
For many trades, the best way to find a good company is to call a local supplier. Need a tile installer? Call a tile shop! Need a painter? Call the nearest paint store! Suppliers will usually recommend their best customers. Their most frequent customers are usually busy for good reason. Finding a contractor in this manner is ideal for stand-alone jobs such as painting, tiling, or similar single trade jobs. However, it is not as good for general contractors and larger projects.
By far, the best way of finding a contractor of merit is a direct referral from family, friends, or co-workers. If you know someone very well, you trust that person. If they just had a project completed, you likely knew and heard about it before, during, and after the work was completed. You’ve probably already seen the work as well and know whether the job was done on time and on budget. Chances are that if someone you know and trust has had a good experience, you will too! Bottom line, this is the best and most reliable way of finding a contactor to meet your needs. Whether a referral is from a family member, co-worker, friend, or someone from a local social group – a personal referral is often enough due diligence to hire a contractor confidently without spending months getting multiple bids.
Remember, at the end of the day, you’ll need to “go with your gut” when finding a contractor. However, price should not be the most important factor in your decision! Instead, use personal recommendations and hire the company that you feel you can trust the most to deliver quality craftsmanship.