As a remodeling contractor, it is important for us to know how potential customers go about finding a contractor for their home remodeling projects. To find out, we frequently ask homeowners how they found us. Alternatively, if we lose a project (cant win ’em all!) to a competitor we will ask the homeowner how they found the contractor they did hire. There are a few of the tried and true methods of finding a contractor, but we are surprised at some of the other methods people find their remodeling contractor and we thought we would share those with you (along with some possible pros and cons)
Family, Friends, and Neighbors (Referrals)
Personally, we love when we get a phone call from a homeowner saying they were referred to us by their family, neighbor, or friend. A referral means we did a great job, our prices were reasonable, and they felt confident we would take care of the person they referred to us. Is there a downside to hiring a referral? There are a lot of remodeling companies who fizz out after a few years in business so it is imperative to verify they are currently licensed, insured, and have positive current references. Sometimes we refer other remodeling contractors because a homeowner requests a project that is out of our scope but the first thing we say is “check their current license and insurance information on the CSLB website and always check out their reviews.”.
Better Business Bureau
There is an accreditation system that businesses have to go through to with the BBB. Not all businesses are accredited so that is something to be aware of. Accreditation means the remodeling contractor has proven to be in business for over 12 months. The remodeling company has to prove they are properly licensed and insured. The renovation company also has to have a full audit of their marketing materials to ensure the marketing material is ethical and within BBB standards (to prevent false advertising). There are strict compliance factors that the renovation companies have to adhere to in order to maintain accreditation with the BBB and companies are audited yearly. You can read more about the accreditation standards with the BBB, but we believe the BBB is a solid place to find a remodeling contractor.
In the last few years, we have had a positive experience with Angie’s List and would recommend their services as a way to find a reputable contractor. Here is what you need to know about Angie’s List. Yes, contractors can pay to advertise with Angie’s List but the advertisements have nothing to do with the ratings you see for the company. Advertisement costs that remodelers pay are for Pay-Per-Click type advertising and print advertising. Only the highest rated contractors can advertise with Angie’s List (“B” rating and higher).
Angie’s List is diligent about verifying reviews that are submitted for companies are from actual clients of the company, which means you are seeing real reviews from real people. Recently we have found some advertisements saying to purchase “HER” list. As of August 2016, Angie’s List is free to the consumers. Will this change our opinion of Angie’s List? We don’t think so – as long as they continue to verify the reviews are from real clients.
Oh my gosh, what to say about Home Magazines. Are they a good way to find a remodeling contractor? Sure. There are tons of folks who advertise in print magazines (our company, included). We want to advise you to be aware of what is called a “leader ad”. Leader ads are meant to grab your attention. “$5995 for a Kitchen Remodel!” Sounds great, right? From a contractor’s point of view – absolutely unrealistic. Leader ads are meant to get you to stop in your tracks and make a call. Are they effective? Of course. Are they realistic? Absolutely not. It is kind of like when you are looking for a car and they advertise ONE car at that amazingly discounted rate, either the car doesn’t exist or it is a used car. Look for the astrick (*) which will tell you what they are hiding in that big print that is meant to grab your attention.
I’m just going to come out and say it, I am not a Yelp fan (for the remodeling industry). The problem with Yelp is there is no verification process of whether or not the person writing the review actually did the work with the remodeling company.
If you are going to use Yelp as a method of finding a contractor, or verifying their references/reviews – we HIGHLY suggest you take it with a grain of salt. Don’t just look at the “stars” and move on. Read what the person actually writes. We have been given a 1 or 2 star because the customer could not afford our services, which has nothing to do with our remodeling services actually performed.
Another thing to look out for when using Yelp: if you see a company who has dozens of reviews written day after day and they are all raving about the company, stop and think – how did they get that many reviews that quickly? With no verification process, we have found companies frequently create their own reviews to pump up their ratings.
True story: we had a review written on our page from someone who was trying to review a burger joint. We alerted him and he tried to remove the review, but could not figure out how to remove it. It was a great review, but it did not apply to our business. So in closing, we highly recommend using a method OTHER THAN Yelp to find a professional remodeling contractor (and use Guild Quality to check out references for remodeling companies, rather than Yelp).
Internet Searches (google,yahoo, etc)
The internet is the method most often used by homeowners to find a remodeling contractor. The internet is a great resource for finding remodeling contractors. The only recommendation we have during an internet search is to be VERY wary of giving out your information on line, especially if it is not linked directly to the contractor you want to speak with. If you have never done this before, here is what it looks like: You enter your contact information online and within 5 minutes your phone is ringing off the hook. Your will receive 3-5 calls per day for 2 weeks from contractors who have received your information online.
Home Advisor is a method used by many remodeling contractors to get “leads” on homeowners who are looking to remodel their home. Homeowners do not pay for this service, but contractors do. So if you sign up to receive calls from contractors, you better believe your phone is going to be ringing!
The company does a great job of pre-qualifying contractors to make sure their license and insurance is current and valid. Homeowners who use Home Advisor are given the opportunity to review the contractor upon completion of the projects, and unlike Yelp, the reviews are verified to be posted by actual clients.
Social Media has been an up and coming way to find remodeling contractors. You may see ads on your Facebook or Instagram feed which highlight local remodeling companies trying to earn your business. Social Media is a great way to view a company from a different light. Many remodeling contractors will share photos and videos of actual projects they have completed. They may highlight their employees or events they participate in with the community. In our opinion, Social Media is a great way to “get to know” a remodeling company before inviting them in to your home. Be aware that Social Media does not require remodeling companies to verify their license or insurance so you will (always) need to check that on your own.
Home Shows and Street Fairs
Home Shows and Street Fairs are still a popular way to find a remodeling contractor in San Diego. There are several events yearly through-out different cities within San Diego. You will find a wide range of contractors at events such as these. Home Shows are a great way to find new products but we have found that many Home Shows and Street Fairs have lead generators manning the booths which means you are not speaking with a contractor, but only a person who is there to gather contact information to schedule appointments. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware of who you are speaking with. Ask them if they are an estimator, a designer, or if they are just trying to set appointments. Be wary of giving out your information because if you give out your phone number, you will receive phone calls (imagine that!).
There are so many was to find a contractor for your remodeling project, hopefully you have found this list insightful (from a contractor’s perspective). As always, be sure to verify the contractor’s license, insurance, and referrals before signing any contracts.