Finding Honest Reputable Professionals to Care for Your Home
Hold on. Let me find my soapbox so I can get on it. . . Okay, found it. I’m ready! So it REALLY drives my crazy when I see homeowners get taken advantage of. All too often a homeowner hires someone that they believe is a professional and will take good care of their home only to find that the following happens:
- They don’t show up when they say they will
- They never call to let them know why (probably because they just didn’t feel like it)
- When they do show up, they are a little scary (not judging)
- Even if they inspire confidence, that feeling doesn’t last long when the homeowner sees that they did a poor job and finally
- They end up charging the homeowner 30% more than quoted because they ran into “unexpected” problems (NOTE: Everything is “unexpected” to the non-professional).
So how do you find an honest, communicative, legitimate, legal, insured, reputable, professional to take care of your home? I can’t say that I can speak for every kind of business you may want to hire to work on your home, but I can certainly comment from my perspective in the industry we work in and which principles undoubtedly apply to other professions. So, let’s say you want to hire a company to clean your windows, wash your home, clean your roof, or clean your gutters. No matter what part of the country you live in, how would you go about locating the “right” company for you? Let’s get started. . .
Step 1. Google Them!
Yes, I know, you saw that one coming. But, this is what anyone should do. (So for example, if you wanted to find out more about our company, you would Google ‘Epic View Window Cleaning’) When you Google them, what do you find? What should you look for? Firstly, do they even show up? Do they have an online presence? They should.
Step 2. Do they have a website?
It is so amazingly easy to have a website now that there really is no excuse for not having one. Look through their website. Do they have pictures of their work? I’m not talking about the generic photos they downloaded online and put on their website. I mean photos of their owners, employees, work, before and after photos, etc. What do they say on their website? Do they just say a bunch of generic mumbo jumbo that could have been copied and pasted from anywhere? Try to see if they have a unique voice or message. What makes them tick so to speak? If their pictures and message is generic, vanilla if you will, then that’s probably how they treat their customers. . .at best.
Step 3. Reviews!
On the Google results for your search, do you find that they have reviews on sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Google Local, Angie’s List, or other review sites? They should have at least five to ten reviews across a few sites (Really they should have more, but I’m talking bare minimums here). Do they look like planted reviews? (e.g. ‘They are the best ever and Mikey is such a cute boy!’ Gee, thanks mom.) If the reviews are plentiful and appear legit (the more there are, the more likely that most if not all are legit reviews), read through them to get a feel for the company and what they’re all about. Do they appear to align with your values and what you are looking for in a service company?
Step 4. Ask for a Reference.
Ah yes, they could be giving you their grandmother’s number for all you know. So how can you make sure they are giving you a legit reference. Here’s a little trick (it’s actually pretty awesome). Let’s say that you are thinking of hiring a company to do a roof cleaning and you ask for a reference. Now you know that this company also does house washing. When you call the person given as a ROOF CLEANING reference, you say: “Company ABC gave me your number as a reference because I’m thinking of hiring them and they said that THEY WASHED YOUR HOUSE, IS THAT RIGHT?” Now if this is not a real reference, they will say: ‘Oh yes, they washed my house and they did such a wonderful job.’ If it’s a real reference, they should say something like: “Oh, actually, they cleaned my roof. They didn’t wash my house.” Bingo! This person is a legitimate reference. (I know what you’re thinking. What if the company washed their roof AND their house? When they say that they washed their house and did a great job you ask them what else the company did for them. If they don’t bring up the roof, then once again you know that this is not a real roof cleaning reference). With a little savvy you can fish out the bogus references.
Step 5. Ask for a Copy of Their Certificate of Insurance.
When you speak with them, at the very end of your phone call, you throw in this line just before hanging up: “Okay, that sounds great. One last thing. If you can just shoot me over a copy of your certificate of insurance for our records.” This is a BIG one because far too many service providers and other contractors are not properly insured. You as the homeowner need to understand that this puts you at great risk. Is a copy of a certificate of insurance a guarantee that the company is properly covered? No. Any document can be forged. But it is a good sign if, when you ask for the copy of their certificate of insurance, you hear an immediate: ‘Absolutely, I will email that to you right now.’ That is what you should hear. If you hear: ‘Ah, well, let me see what I can do. You know, right now we’re trying to find a new insurer. . .blah, blah, blah.’ If you hear that, RUN! What should the certificate of insurance list for coverage? It should list at least the following: 1. General liability insurance, 2. Workers Compensation insurance, and 3, Commercial Auto insurance. This is extremely important. Many businesses say ‘we are fully insured’ but they only have general liability insurance (and even then their coverage amount is extremely low such as $100,000). They need workers comp and a commercial vehicle policy. I cannot stress this enough. This is for YOUR protection!
This is not an exhaustive list (e.g. I didn’t even talk about guarantees and warranties), but I think that it covers some of the basics. There are no guarantees, but by considering the above, you will greatly increase your chances of hiring a business that you will be very happy with. Admittedly, for every 1 great business there seems to be 20 horrible ones, but with a little work on the vetting process you can find a great one!