Updated: Jul 9
I was maybe 10 or 11 years old when a strange truck pulled up to our house. Knock, knock. The “tree guy” explained to my single mother that work was being done in the neighborhood and that a tree in our backyard was “dangerously close to falling on our roof”. To my mother, that sounded scary! The “tree guy” further pressured my mother by saying that they could discount the normal $600 price to $300, for today only because they happen to be “in the neighborhood”. Fear of loss drives buying on an impulse, and my mother was a victim of their tactics. Next thing you know, the tree guys were scaling around the backyard.
I look back and get so angry thinking about that moment. Granted, this was 1991 in Springfield, VA, and the world has since changed, but many consumers still have similarly skeptical feelings about home improvement vendors. You want to protect and grow your family’s largest investment: your home. You want quality products and services at a fair price. But most of all, you don’t want to get ripped off.
How Should You Proceed with Confidence?
The team at Layr shares your concern; it’s one of the reasons why we are so excited about this line of business – the bar for home improvement is set so low. Here’s a checklist of things to look for when hiring contractors to improve your home:
The Company – Who is doing the proposed work? Is it “a few guys” or a legitimate Company? Do they have a professional-looking website? Do they use Gmail addresses? Is there a physical office address? Does their offer sound too good to be true? Buying from “tree guys” or “chucks in trucks” could save you $100 here and there, but you’ll probably regret it in the long-term. “Buy nice or buy twice” is a real thing.
The Company’s People – When scheduling an appointment, ask for the rep’s name in advance. Ask to see a picture of the rep. Ask if the Company runs pre-screened background checks. The people should hand you a card and offer to take off their shoes before entering your home. If you don’t like and trust the people, move on.
The Physical Product – Who makes the physical product being installed? Do the samples and specifications look good and make sense? Have you heard of the manufacturer before? Where is the product manufactured? We’re proud to be a 3M Prestige Window Film Dealer; it’s American-made and the only product we sell. Did you know the average US household already has ~ten 3M products in their home?
The Warranty – Ask for a sample in writing. What does it mean in plain English? “Chucks in trucks” will often sell a taillight warranty; we wouldn’t put much stock into that.
Licensing – Home Improvement Contractors are often required to be registered and licensed within a city, county or state. Proper registration, insurance, and back-office procedures are often pre-requisites for licensing. Licensing is just another important screening procedure to keep bad people out of your home.
Insurance – Legitimate businesses carry general liability and workers compensation insurance. Look for $1 to $2 million in coverage per occurrence to be safe. Ask to see an active Certificate of Insurance naming you as the insured.
Better Business Bureau – Accreditation is difficult to obtain, and an important seal of approval from one of the nation’s oldest and most-trusted consumer advocates. Companies with a BBB accreditation will help you get peace of mind that these folks are trusted experts.
Reviews – Look for the Company’s reviews online. Facebook, Google, and Home Advisor are good starting points. Make sure they are reasonably detailed and not just friends leaving a five-star rating. No inside baseball here.
Referrals – If you are genuinely interested, you should be able to talk with prior clients. Ask them basic questions; e.g. did it reduce hot spots? How does it look? Did it block glare? We’ve serviced thousands of homes and buildings and will be happy to refer you to our satisfied clients.
Do They Give Back – This isn’t a pre-requisite, but as citizens, we should be giving back to those in need. We live in the very same communities that we serve, so social accountability is important. You can read more about what we do in the community here.
We’re passionate about driving consumer value and transparency and obviously, live with the above checklist in mind. Drop us a line or check us out at any of the above links!