How homeowners find a contractor for their remodeling projects is changing. Increasingly, they are skipping the yellow pages or print advertising and turning to online referral services. These services are easy, interactive, and often free to the consumer. A recent post from Remodeling Guy delved into the successes and potential problems behind this new wave of Internet advertising and connectivity.
Online referral services serve a number of purposes. For the contractor, it is essentially a new form of advertising — contractors typically pay to be included on the list. For the homeowner, online services help expedite the contractor-finding process by doing a lot of the legwork. That includes such laborious tasks as:
- License verification
- Background checks
- Referral verification (the service calls references themselves)
- Insurance verification
Many also provide feedback from previous customers and make getting free estimates from these contractors a simple form-filling process.
Add to that the fact that many services are free, and the appeal is not hard to realize. Still, as Remodeling Guy points out, that doesn’t necessarily make online referral services a foolproof option. While the verification services provided are useful, and probably effective in general, it would not be too difficult for a dishonest contractor to get around these obstacles.
That is why the online referral service should not free the homeowner from all research obligations. It is important to remember that many of these services make money off the contractors — a good reason to let some mediocrity slip through the cracks. Now, there are plenty of online services out there; the rise of the online referral service will inevitably spawn even more hungry entrepreneurs to the cause. Therefore, it becomes necessary to effectively research the researcher, for homeowners to spend a few hours looking into the referral services themselves. (more…)