• Logan Baker

Hello Does Anyone Work Here?…

How to get service companies to answer your call and show up.

We live in a resort town, a real vacation destination. Which is fantastic most of the time, but when it comes time to get work done on our home this vacation life style has its tolls. We want to be on vacation, not the people that we hire to work on our house.

We first noticed an issue when we first moved to town and purchased a beautiful property with a great lake view and a little shack. The shack (a small shotgun style house) was not the draw. The view from the pad of dirt that would become our new home; the great possibility was the draw! My wife cried when she saw the tiny shack we would call home with our two children and two dogs until a new home could be built. It was tiny and tight to say the least. We settled into the shack and set out to find a builder to construct our dream home.

Homes in our part of the country are to say semi-custom. So we went from place to place, model home to model home. Until we find a good base. Of course some modifications would need to be made to make it ours. We verified the contractor’s credentials, looked over his reviews, and even talked with the banker, and all pointed to a strong recommendation of the builder. The contract was signed and the construction loan was started. We were eager to see our hard work and dreams bear fruit. Little did we know that this was the beginning of a difficult journey.

Our home site sat vacant for over a year with very little work performed. The little work that was done on a wall was such poor quality it had to be redone. After some time and attorney fees we were able to cancel our contract with the builder and move our project to another company. This was an unnerving process for my wife in her tight little shack waiting patiently for the home I promised her.

So we began again. Fortunately the next builder did an amazing job and built my wife a great home next to her little shack. (Don’t worry the shack has a happy ending also, it was renovated to allow my wife’s grandparents a comfortable place to live; now lovingly referred to as the Roommates)

My goal is to share some lessons that we learned through this process and many other experiences trying to keep things running on the home front. Let’s get started:

1. Use a licensed company. A company cannot be held accountable unless you have someone to hold them accountable too. Our City has a City Business License that covers all service industries. This in in addition to construction trades that would require a contractor’s license. So yes even your window washer, cleaning lady, and landscape companies should have a license.

2. Ensure that the company is fully insured and your property is covered. We have to acknowledge that even the best company will have an accident or unforeseen issue, eventually. When that time comes you want to know that you and your property are covered. Especially the folks that you hire to keep up you home. Yep, that includes the Window Cleaning Company. 3. Look at the reviews. Online reviews are a great tool to give you a sense of what to expect. A few caveats. Not all reviews have to be glowing, there are many personalities in the world and some like to tear down others online. Take these folks with a grain of salt. If there are only a few reviews on the site, it’s probably their mom. Look for a company who has taken the time to be reviewed by its customers, not just a few family members. Lastly when the work is completed return the favor. Everyone wants to use the experience of others but it only works if you take the time to leave a review. Don’t just take and give nothing back. 4. Don’t start out with a company that cannot find the time to call you back. If a company is too busy or indifferent to call you back before you purchase. Things will not improve once they get your money. With today’s technology there is little reason a company should be out of touch. Find a company that will communicate the way you like. A company today should be able to answer a call, a text, a facebook message, and an email. They should be able to respond to you in a timely manner. If they can’t return a communication in a business day, you may want to pass. 5. Use a company that will put the work or estimate in writing. Written estimates ensure that both parties are clear on the expected work, price, and timeline. This is a great way to start your professional relationship and keeps the surprises down the line to a minimum. “Ummm, I didn’t say that” is not a conversation you want when they are three quarters of the way through your project. 6. Personal recommendations vary, be careful of your friend recommending there friend. We have been burned several times by this. Yep even by extended family. I have a guy, they said. I know that recommendations are important but just don’t rely on the one recommendation and not follow up with the other recommendations above. Not taking your friends recommendation blindly may cause a bit of friction, but this will be way less than when your friend’s friend burns you. Word of mouth is powerful just follow up with the other recommendations on this list and you will be fine. 7. DO NOT PRE-PAY! The incentive for the company to show up on-time and do a good job is to make money. If they already have the money the incentive is gone. You will find that they are spending their time at the job that they are working to get paid on. There are times to pay on a schedule as the work is completed and that is fine. Construction draw schedule works like this, but only as benchmarks are SATIFACTORLY meet. If you are not happy or in dispute don’t pay until it is resolved to your satisfaction. If you must buy materials ahead of time that’s fine just ensure that they are in your possession. 8. Use a company that guarantees their work. Look for a company that has a written guarantee. A written guarantee outlines what to do if you are not satisfied with the work performed. There are always issues that arise that a company may not be able to overcome. When the time comes that they are not able to deliver a satisfactory result you should have some recourse. A good company will make this a transparent process with a written satisfaction guarantee. 9. Professional appearance is a must. The owners, sales reps, and workers should appear to be clean and professional looking. If you answer the door to find a person in a tank top and flip-flops you may want to rethink hiring them. Again this goes to the point that just because we live in a resort town doesn’t mean your worker should look like they are on vacation. Not to say that a small company has to have a fleet of matching vehicles and uniforms. Although it is a good sign. The workers should be dressed to work; their equipment should be clean and organized. If they are not taking care of themselves or their equipment they probably aren’t going to take care of your stuff. 10. Make sure they treat you like you’re the Boss. They may be the boss on their crew but when you hire them they should be patient and respectful. You are not an expert, you may be wrong, you may have questions or concerns, and that is great that is why they are getting your money. If you find that the person you are considering hiring is short, condescending, impatient, and generally cranky before you hire them; do not assume it will get better. It won’t!

Thank you for taking some time out of your day to review this list. I hope it serves you well and will save you from some of the frustration of getting work done around the home. I absolutely love living in a resort community. With a bit of patience and following the points outlined above you can keep your home up and running trouble free. For an example of a company that was built on the principles described above please visit our website www.windowcleaninghavasu.com . This will give you a good example of things to look for when selecting any home service company.

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