The Guide to Reading Online Reviews Before Hiring a Contractor
Gone are the days of pulling out the phone book and choosing a contractor at random from a list. Today, you can go online and learn a ton of details about any contractor you’re looking to hire. At the same time, the information available can make it difficult to decide where to start and what information to use.
Once you know what kind of contractor you need, start with reviews. It’s the best place to get honest opinions about the company’s work ethic, work quality, and more. How can you best utilize online reviews to ensure you hire the right contractor? Here are a few tips.
Read at Least Five Reviews
If you only read one or two, you could get a very lopsided view of the company. Alternatively, if one is good and one is bad, you could end up with a stalemate, unable to decide. Too many reviews, on the other hand, can make it difficult to keep track of the pros and cons and leave you just as confused. Five to ten is enough to tip the balance one way or another – more good than bad, or vice versa. It’s also enough to ensure you get a good variety of information, like specific complaints or praises. Lastly, if they don’t have at least five reviews, that should also tell you something. A lack of reviews can indicate they haven’t been around long enough for people to review. Hiring a contractor that is new isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you want to consider it carefully before moving forward.
Look for Company Responses
Not all companies respond to reviews online, and that’s okay. A lack of responses doesn’t indicate that they’re a bad risk. But responses can be a good indication of the company’s customer service. Look at whether those responses are positive or negative. Even a response to a negative review should be positive. If the contractor responds with an apology, an offer to try to remedy the complaint, or an explanation for why they were unable to meet the reviewer’s needs, this all shows a desire to meet their clients’ needs. An insult, complaint about the customer, or negative responses should show you that the contractor may not do a good job and probably doesn’t care about his company’s reputation.
Go Beyond the Local Review Sites
There are plenty of review sites that you can check. Go one step further, though, and use the Better Business Bureau’s reviews before you make a decision. While accreditation may not matter to you, what will is the BBB complaints. If you’re hiring a contractor, you want to know that they either don’t have complaints or have satisfactorily resolved them. The BBB’s site will show you not only how many complaints they’ve had, but their status and if the customer was happy with the resolution (and often, what that resolution was.)
Hiring a contractor is a major investment. You want to make sure that you’re spending your money with a worthy company. Checking reviews will help you do that, if you use them correctly.