You’d think with all the help the Internet provides for getting information about the various homecare professionals you need to hire every once in a while, that something like hiring a plumber would be easy. Not only do practically all of the plumbers today have their own websites, like Fix It Right Plumbing, where you can find out what their specialties are and even get a preliminary bid on your particular plumbing job, but these sites also provide you with testimonials from satisfied customers.
Admittedly, the customers giving testimonials on a plumber’s website are, undoubtedly, going to be satisfied customers, but often the website will supply contact capabilities so you can actually ask that customer a specific question about the job the plumber did. There are even biographies of the plumbers to tell you how they started in the business so that you get some idea of what kind of persons that you’re dealing with.
Then there are the third-party review websites like Yelp and Angie’s List where you can read, supposedly, unbiased customer reviews of a particular plumber’s work by a customer. Of course, on these review websites, you’ve got to be careful about two types of reviewers who just may have another agenda when they’re writing about a specific professional and/or service.
Be Wary of Trolls and Ghostwriters
There are Internet ‘trolls’, who are usually lonely persons who just like to start quarrels online with strangers. These trolls will often post an incredibly negative review of a service, sometimes even if they haven’t actually made use of that particular service. All they want is a reaction from either the service provider, so they can begin a long argument thread, or another satisfied customer, to enliven their isolated lives.
Then there are the overly enthusiastic reviewers who very well could be someone related to the service provider, like a family member or a business partner. They are writing this gushing review in order to simply garner more business for the service. There are even people who are paid to write these rosy reviews, commonly known as ‘ghostwriters’.
So, before you make a decision about a provider and/or service from a Yelp review, always click on the reviewer’s username. This will open a window that discloses the other critiques this particular reviewer has written on Yelp. Take a look at a few of their reviews. If they are overwhelmingly negative? You’ve got a troll here and you should ignore their comments.
If it’s an extraordinarily positive review, and there are absolutely no other reviews from this particular reviewer? Then you’ve probably got a family member or a friend dropping accolades for a fellow traveler. Or if you see a whole bunch of reviews and they are all similarly flattering, almost to a fault, then you have a review-for-hire ‘specialist’, a ghostwriter who has been hired by the service provider to basically write an ad for that particular service, posing as a ‘review’.
Check on the License
All states have procedures for licensing independent businesses, like plumbing companies, in that particular state, which is usually part of the secretary of state’s office. Business licensing is a benefit for both the business and the customer. It’s the fastest and most efficient way to ensure that the financial health of a service provider is in good standing, not only with the state and local governments, but also other vendors contractors and, most importantly, customers.
Having a business license in good standing sends an important signal to everyone that this plumber is taking his business seriously. A business license protects both the business, its vendors and customers in case there is some legal issue.
One of the primary requirements for maintaining a business license is that the company has a sufficient insurance policy, which is paid up and current, to guard against any accident that might happen in the normal operation of that company’s assignments.
If something goes wrong during your plumbing job and there is catastrophic flooding, which could even include the apartment below if you’re in a multi-unit building, you want to make sure that the plumbing contractor has sufficient underwriting coverage to address the accident. A state business license guarantees that.
Get at least three bids
Once you decide upon a plumbing company and get a bid from them, don’t think that you’re done yet. You need to find at least two more trustworthy plumbers who work in your area. The rule of thumb says that you should get at least three competitive bids for any plumbing job. That way, you will have a range of prices that can guide your decision-making capability toward an ultimately successful outcome for your plumbing task.
We have been renovating our house since we moved in. Is a house ever done? We are in the middle of planning permission for a huge two bedroom/bath loft conversion now. I hope these tips help you find the best tradesman for your job as it has for us.