The internet can be both a blessing and a headache. It has enabled entirely new industries, changed existing industries and changed our perspective on how to shop. Today I want to discuss how to ‘best’ use the internet to find local providers of in-home services.
The internet is not one place, it is organized chaos and everybody is trying to get your attention. If you need drywall repaired, for example, you can look directly for a service provider that will come out and address your need, or you can work with a company that will help you find a service provider. If you go into any search engine and enter “drywall repair” both groups will come up mixed together.
The direct providers of service are the vehicles you see on the road around town and the men and women arriving at doors to do the work. A cleaning service may come weekly or bi-monthly, while the plumber only comes when there is a need.
With dozens of competing companies in almost every conceivable service category many consumers worry about picking somebody they can trust. Maybe they’ve had a bad prior experience, or know somebody that did, so they go with a name they recognize to recommend a local service provider. Service providers pay for referrals, so these are effectively marketing organizations. Understand that you’ll never meet an employee of Angie’s List or Home Advisor employee (two services you may be familiar with given their TV campaigns) but based on their reputation, your hope is they’ll connect you with somebody you can trust.
Either path you pick, the trick is to pay attention to ratings and reviews. Local suppliers of service have reviews on Google. Sites that connect you with local service providers also have ratings and reviews. You can learn a great deal about a company by reading their ratings and reviews. If there are issues, do they stand behind their work or blame the customer.
The final item to check out, or ask about, is hiring practices. How do they screen the people they are sending into your home, what kind of experience do they require, and are these employees or sub-contractors? If you are not comfortable with how they screen and hire staff, then it may be best to check out another service provider.
When something unexpected comes up we just want to make a call and have somebody show up and make our problem go away. A quick web search and a couple of clicks can get somebody headed your way, but if you don’t spend a few minutes making sure you’ve picked the right service provider, your problems may just be starting.