Choosing a Lawn Care/Landscaping Contractor- Part One
This time of the year can be quite hectic for both customers and Lawn Care businesses. You’re looking forward to starting the spring off right, getting projects and contractors in order, while businesses are ramping up for our busy season. Hopefully this mini series can help you choose between us and other lawn care contractors while also giving you some insights on how you can choose other contractors for around your house.
Part One- Finding a contractor(s)
First lets start from the basics, finding a contractor to receive pricing from. Here’s a short list of SOME of the most common ways of finding a company to do business with.
Word of mouth.
Word of mouth is by far the most common way a new customer finds our company. They see a lawn that they like with our sign in it and give us a call or, often times, it’s someone asking a friend or relative who they have used in the past and who they trust to do a good job. This type of referral is among the best way to find a contractor as the work, or customer, speaks for us; letting the prospective customer see or hear the type of work they can expect. When I need something done around my house that isn’t in my comfort zone the first thing I’ll do is get on the horn with a family member, walk to a neighbors’ house, or speak with a friend and find out any contractors they would recommend. There is basically no downfall to this. If they were happy, they will let you know. Along with being our best way of getting new business, this is always my #1 way to find a new contractor to do work with.
Organic Online Search
In this age of the internet, it’s never been easier to find someone to do help you out. Go to google and search for any type of service; there are 100’s of companies at your finger tips to choose from. Easy right? Well hold on. While the internet is a great thing, it sometimes can be confusing. Many of the best companies to work with may have a website that doesn’t rank well with google, yahoo, or bing (having a webpage rank high on google or yelp has ZERO hold on whether or not the company does good work), if they do they may not even be in the first 5 pages of the search. I know personally, if I’m searching for something online, I’ll rarely go past the 2nd page. On top of that, many businesses don’t have someone to create new pages, update, or build a website. If they don’t it can cost some MAJOR $$$ to have a professional have it done for them. Also remember this, when you search for a company online 1/2 of what you see will be an AD that a company is paying for. This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Good, as it may get they companies name out there; bad, as it COULD simply be a new company that is putting out lots of $$ on advertising without have much experience to back it up.
Online reviews are this centuries “Word of Mouth”. While in theory, choosing a company based on their online reviews is a good practice, you have to be careful how much you read into those reviews. Let’s take Google for instance. Was it an actual person posting the review or a “Google User”? Was it someone who actually had the work done? Was it a competitor that posted a negative review? These are all questions that no one can answer except for the person who reviewed the company. Which is my MAIN problem with online reviews. Another thing that really bothers me is that the service industry, like lawn care and construction, is going to have a much tougher time getting reviews from happy clients than something like a restaurant. Let’s take a closer look at the two main types of online reviews.
Free reviews– These are your GOOGLE, Yahoo and Yelp type of listings. While they typically are the first to pop up they can be read and, MORE IMPORTANTLY, reviewed by anyone. Whether the person has had work done, seen a companies truck drive by, or had never heard of them before, they can review the company.
Account reviews- These are the reviews from sites like ANGIESLIST that require you to be a member to see and post reviews. These, in my opinion, give the truest online reviews of a company and are the ones that should hold the most weight when choosing a contractor, lawn care or other, to perform work for you.
One more thing on online reviews. The amount of reviews can be a good or bad thing. If a company has 100 reviews with an average rating of 5 stars and assuming the reviews have some substance to them, chances are you can expect a decent company. Where it gets hairy is when there are only a few reviews, some good, some bad, that may really skew the rating. Landscape companies are notorious for having few ratings.
As a company, advertising is a necessary evil. Every company is going to have some sort of advertising. It could be the signage on their truck, advertising on the radio, ads in the paper, or using something like google Adwords. (remember those ads I talked about in the organic search?) Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever hired ANY type of service because of the advertising I’ve seen. Now when it comes to retail, such as sales at Cub Foods, or restaurants, that is where I would listen up and follow through. Fertilawn doesn’t do a whole lot of advertising; other than the signage on our trucks and the signs we place in our clients’ yards, we may only do a big mailer every couple of years and that’s about it. Like I said earlier, we get most of our business from Word of Mouth, not by having a catchy tune on the radio. Shane Co. I’m looking at you.
Overall advertising is a great way for a company to get its name out there. On the other end, I would never hiring someone just because of a beautiful ad I saw. With any advertising you should definitely be doing a little bit of research into the company; how long have they been around, previous work completed, and maybe some referrals are some questions to look into.
Once you’ve found someone to contact, its time to choose the one to perform the work. Head to the next part to read up on choosing a contractor.