Guide to Finding the Right Home Services Provider
Looking for a lawn care service? Is it time to clean your gutters? Maybe you're ready to hire a contractor for a home improvement project.
So, how do you find the best service company with the right price at the right time to suit your needs? Being home service providers ourselves, we've learned a lot about what it takes to build a good reputation in the community and all the different ways to market our business online.
We know first hand that good old-fashioned word-of-mouth is one of the best places to start. It is how many of our new customers find us! There are many other options as well for finding the perfect service providers and we're giving you the inside scoop on the most common ones. Getting a list of names is just the beginning, however, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process! So we've also thrown in a few tips to help you feel confident and prepared to make the best decision for you and your home.
Where to Look
Good old-fashioned word of mouth means asking the people you know for their recommendations. Reach out to your neighbors, your real estate broker, a trustworthy friend, other service providers, or someone you know who just got the same service done. Find out who they have used in the past and if they would use the company again in the future.
Take note of service trucks in your neighborhood. The more frequently you see a particular service provider, the more likely the company is doing a good job for your neighbors. And, don’t be afraid to walk up and ask for a business card. You may be surprised to learn of discounts available if the provider is coming back and can add you to the schedule on the same trip.
Internet search engines like good 'ole Google are a great way to find providers, learn more about companies, and read customer reviews. Start with a simple keyword in the search bar, like “window cleaners.” Get more specific results by searching for “window cleaners near me” or search for window cleaners near your specific city or town.
The search engines return a list of company names. Be aware that the top names are often for companies that have paid to list there. That doesn't always mean they are the best, it could mean that they are a larger company with more money to spend on advertising.
and Houzz connect homeowners with service providers. While these sites can be helpful, it is important to know that most require service providers to pay to be listed or to create their own profile. Often the home service companies with the best reputations select not to participate because they find their word-of-mouth advertising more effective.
With that said, the companies on these sites are often vetted and reviews verified so you can feel confident that the company is legitimately doing business. We'd recommend doing some research on the search sites as well as any recommendations you receive.
Online Communities offer the opportunity to ask a larger number of people for help. This is especially helpful if you are new to an area. Next Door was created to connect neighbors to each other. It is one of the best places to ask for recommendations because it is hyper-local and users tend to be honest, sometimes even brutally about their experiences. Local groups on Facebook are another place to receive community feedback.
Both NextDoor and Facebook offer businesses the option to set up business accounts. Customers can post reviews to these accounts and businesses can use them to promote their services and promotions.
What to Consider When Making Your Decision
Before making any decisions or even reaching out to companies, spend some time planning and researching. Be sure you know exactly what you need done. The more specific you can be, the better your result. A Google search can provide information on average costs so you know a ahead of time if the service will be within your budget. Understand that with labor shortages and increased costs, pricing may be higher than anticipated and companies may be scheduled weeks or even months out. Once you are ready to dive in:
You can learn a lot when you read through a company's website. Look for information about the services offered, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and any customer reviews. Sometimes a website will give you a glimpse into the character of the business, like if it’s family-owned and operated or how the business started.
Read the reviews! No company is going to be able to 100% satisify100% of the people 100% of the time. However, the majority of reviews should demonstrate that the company is professional, does good work, arrives on time, and does what it says it will do. When there are negative reviews, try to read between the lines. Does it sound like a one-off unhappy customer or a common trend with that company?
Check credentials. Make sure the provider is credible, well-trained, and has the experience to complete your project. If your work requires areas of specialization, like electrical work, make sure the service provider has the proper license and bonding to take on your project. Don’t be shy to ask for a copy of insurance and registrations.
Find out what kinds of assurances and guarantees the provider backs their work with.
Get a price quote. Most companies provide free estimates, but be sure to check! Check the details to ensure you are getting exactly what you need. For example, if you are hiring a house cleaner, does cleaning include details such as refrigerators, baseboards, and ceiling fans.
For bigger projects, like new installations, you may want to seek multiple bids. Pricing can vary considerably. However, the least expensive option is not always the best. New companies may start off with low pricing to establish themselves in the market. Others may be using cost-cutting measures that will impact the quality of your service.
Ask questions. Be sure you know things like cancellation policies, how inclement weather affects your service, payment options, current availability, and discounts for more frequent services.
Ask for references from previous clients. For home improvement projects, you may even want to ask to visit their homes to see first hand the quality of work.
Trust your gut. Not all service providers are created equal. You owe it to your family to be sure you are bringing a trustworthy professional into your home.
TAKING THAT NEXT STEP…HIRING THE RIGHT COMPANY
So, you are now ready to hire your professional home service provider! You can feel confident that you are making the right choice for your home if you follow these simple steps.
Written by Beth Klahre and Gail Sawchuk of GrowthCapacityServices.net