Reliable Contractor References

Posted: 09/15/2014

Let me tell you a story (the names have been changed to, well, you know… protect folks).

Steve needed a new roof on his home. So he did some research online and picked a few local contractors with a strong rating on the Better Business Bureau website and several years of experience. After meeting with a few, he chose A+ Roofing.

However, Steve’s new roof turned out to be a dud, with several leaks, wrong sized guttering and a number of other issues. Countless attempts to call A+ Roofing led to an irate owner yelling obscenities at Steve and his wife over the phone. It turns out that one of the contractors for A+ Roofing was pocketing the money from several jobs that he did poorly and then took off. And A+ Roofing didn’t feel the need to rectify the situation.

Don’t Put all Your Eggs in one Basket
Despite the cliché, as a consumer, you should never solely depend upon a BBB rating to determine if a construction company is reliable.  Granted, in Steve’s case, the owner of A+ Roofing was certainly handed a rotten situation (pun intended), but it’s how he handled it – allowing the stress of it all to make customer service non-existent – that reveals his business practices.

It’s almost a guarantee that this isn’t the first time the owner of A+ Roofing treated a customer horribly. So you need to first get references from a company.  In the interest of full disclosure, you shouldn’t trust all of the reviews you read on the Internet about a company either – at least not without a little more research. Because, unfortunately, we live in a society that is more than willing to plaster bad reviews all over the Internet when someone does them wrong (often before they’ve even tried to resolve the situation with the company), but those treated well rarely take the time to proclaim that in a public forum. It’s better to talk to several previous clients one-on-one to get an accurate assessment of a company’s strengths and weaknesses before you hire them.

Keeping in mind, however, that they are only going to give you contact information for happyclients (of course!). In which case, references still aren’t enough. What you really need to do is go beyond the commonly sought after sources and find out what else the company is involved in.

Memberships Mean Devotion
Another thing to consider is that, like any other service, in order to be listed on the BBB website, a company must pay annual dues. This doesn’t mean a lot, other than the fact that a company that can’t afford that fee won’t be listed, but could still be a viable company. This also means that a company that can afford to maintain a listing with the BBB is successful. And, such a company should have listings with other reliable sources to balance that out.

For example, HA Construction has a listing with the Better Business Bureau, but also with the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Springfield, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Contractors Association. All of these require membership, and HA Construction is happy to oblige in order to show current and potential clients how dedicated we are to providing quality work and customer service.

So it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t rely on just the Better Business Bureau to give you a complete picture of a company’s success rate, customer service and reliability. Consider the BBB as one in a number of reviews and association memberships you will verify before you hire a contractor, so that you’ll avoid being in a situation like Steve.