In the couple of days that I spent riding along with local remodeling general contractor Michael Baum of Baum Construction & Development, I asked several questions about how customers find him, how he finds customers, how he acquires the customers, etc. I’m helping out with marketing, after all so these questions started from a marketing standpoint. However, the more answers he gave me, the more interested I became from a personal standpoint. I began to daydream about the first house I would own and the process of remodeling it to make it my perfect dream home.
General Contractor Search – Angie’s List
The first question I asked was obvious: “Where do you get most of your customers?”
Baum said he gets the majority of his clients from Angie’s List, a website where users can rate and review service companies in their area. The site is different from typical user review sites like Yelp or Insider Pages in that it charges its users to rate/review companies and to view companies that have been rated or reviewed. According to a Time Magazine article, Angie’s List differentiates itself from other review sites by emphasizing quality control. It refuses anonymous reviews, won’t allow companies to pay to be on the list, employs staff to internally audit the content, and uses fraud detection technology.
For three years in a row, Baum Construction & Development has earned the Angie’s List “Super Service Award”. This means he stays among the sites top rated general contractors in the area!
The great thing I found about Angie’s List is the its users have done a lot of the work for you. Sure, you can find a contractor several other ways, but you will still have a bit of work to do, looking into the companies past, asking tons of questions about what to expect, what other jobs they have done, etc. To me, the advantage over Yelp is that people are seemingly and on average a lot less petty (on Angie’s list), and they are much more thorough and reliable.
General Contractor Search – Referral
The next best way Baum’s clients find him is through good old fashion word of mouth referrals. When someone wants to do some remodeling to their house, they ask a friend if they know a good home remodeling contractor and the friend either had work done by Baum or knew of someone happy with his service. Baum Construction & Development also offers their customers a referral reward for referring a friend to get work done with them. It’s a win-win for both parties.
General Contractor Search – Reputation
When a home remodeling general contractor has been around a certain area for a while, they will have a reputation . . . good or bad. It’s fairly easy to do a bit of research, check out websites, reviews, testimonials etc. However, don’t confuse reputation with good marketing! This goes for almost every type of business, but is specifically important when it comes to service providers and in this case, home remodeling general contractors.
What I mean by “reputation vs. good marketing” is this: Do you see and hear someone’s name a lot around town, on the Internet, or other places? Do you love their website? Do they have lots of great ads? This is all good, however this is simply great marketing. Don’t assume that because you see or hear the name of the business a lot that they are also reputable.
3 Ways To Ensure That A Home Remodeling General Contractor Is Reputable:
1. Are they licensed, bonded and insured? Any good general contractor will have clearly listed on their website (and other listing pages) a link to the government page where their license and other vital information is listed, like this one for Baum Construction & Development.
2. Do they have reviews and testimonials? Because of the Internet age we live in, and the multitude of websites that have user generated content like reviews and ratings, it shouldn’t be difficult to find at least a handful of reviews on a home remodeling general contractor. In a quick Google search, a very reputable general contractor will have listed a few (if not all) of the following: Yelp review page, Insider Pages listing, Facebook page, Better Business Bureau page, and Angie’s List page.
3. Are they experienced? Check out their website and do a little more research on the owner of the company. Has he or she been in the industry for a while? How long has the company been around and what did they do before general contracting? Generally speaking, the more experienced a home remodeling general contractor is, the quicker the job will get done . . . and the more reliable the work will be. Because even in school, they can’t teach every single possible scenario about construction, a person’s experience speaks volumes. The more they have experienced, the more quickly they will be able to resolve issues as they arise (and they will arise) because they will have been familiar with having dealt with it previously.
General Contractor Search – Wrapping It Up
Hopefully this narrowed down the MANY things there are to look at/for when searching for a general contractor. Lots of it is common sense, but of course when we get in the situation and are faced with this seemingly daunting task, we can become overwhelmed with choices and not look towards the obvious (like Google searching someone). So just be diligent and do a bit of research online. It will start to be obvious who to call and who not to call from there.
After you find a few good companies, you can then take the next step and get estimates from them. Stay tuned for the next post in this series:
No Surprises! Getting an accurate, reliable and complete estimate.
by Elaine Frazier