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Three Golden Rules for Better Home Improvement

Do Your Homework

Before you pick up the phone or email any potential home improvement contractors, take a few minutes to check these critical online resources to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate, reputable company.  In the case of ProMaster Home Repair & Handyman of Cincinnati, the legal company is Red Pill, Inc. based out of Milford, Ohio.

1. Check the Better Business Bureau: www.cincinnati.bbb.org | View File for ProMaster

2. Check State Business Filings to ensure you are dealing with a legitimate company.
a. Ohio: View Filing for ProMaster.
b: Kentucky: apps.sos.ky.gov/business/filings/ | View Filing for Red Pill, Inc.

3. Validate Worker’s Compensation Insurance:
a: Ohio: wwwohiobwc.com | View Coverage for ProMaster
b: Kentucky: www.labor.ky.gov

4. Check the State Attorney General’s Office for complaints.
a. Ohio: ohioattorneygeneral.gov/SearchConsumerComplaints
b: Kentucky: ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/

Get Unbiased References

Would a bad contractor really give you truthful references? Here are ways to get unsolicited, unbiased consumer feedback:
a: GuildQuality: www.GuildQuality.com | View Rating for ProMaster
b: Angie’s List: www.angieslist.com
c: Google+ Business Listings: maps.google.com | View Results for ProMaster

Ask the “Magic” Questions

1. Will you provide me a copy of your liability insurance?
2. Who performs your criminal background checks and drug screening? | Identity Innovations, LLC does ours.
3. How long do you warranty your work for? Does it include materials?
4. What payment methods do you accept? 5. Do you perform commercial work? If so, who have you done work for?
6. May I purchase or provide my own materials?
7. If you provide free estimates, how much is the cost for that service when added into the price to your paying clientele?
8. Are you members of any franchise, trade, or professional associations or chambers of commerce?
9. Will you provide a contact list of vendors and suppliers so I may verify your accounts are in good standing?
10. How do you know that your employees will be qualified and equipped to perform the work I need done?

Comments

  1. Tom Breitenbach says:

    Great advice and comments about the Golden Rules. You guys are truly unique in how you do business.

  2. Recently updated to include latest information.

  3. In addition, you should ask for quotes from at least three reputable companies and get references from each. Call those references and ask about their experience with the company, in as much detail as possible.

    • HandymanCincy says:

      John,
      This is a common piece of advice. However, think about this for a moment. Given that there are thousands of home improvement companies in the Cincinnati area alone, what would three data points tell you? Why not 5? How about 10? My point is that "the three bid" system (as many people like to call it) does two things that are not advantageous to consumers.
      First, it needlessly drives up the cost of small home repair and improvement projects. Since most homeowners who get multiple bids expect to receive those for free, the cost of these contractors failed attempts to get work must be included in their price. Or they must cut corners to reduce cost. In other words, there is no such thing as free. In addition, I've found that the overwhelming majority of bid shoppers choose the lowest price. Hence, at the end of the day, the decision is all about the lowest bidder not any of the quality attributes listed in this article. People are free to do that–but let's not kid ourselves with pretending to vet a contractor when in the end, is it simply about money.
      Second, the three bid system encourages homeowners to focus on price as the ultimate measure of merit. As the BBB and State Attorney General complaints indicate, the home repair and improvement industry is fraught with fraud, lack of professionalism and poor service. Price isn't directly correlative to these "quality attributes" as say, the correlation between the price of an automobile and its luxury.
      Consequently, I encourage homeowners to use the above checklist to find a contractor who they can trust, first. The most trustworthy, ethical, reliable companies with sound reputations in the marketplace are more likely to provide value at their given price point. Then a homeowner can determine if their budget allows for said company to perform the job. If not, then the homeowner must reevaluate whether or not they can really afford the project. In an attempt to "find it cheaper" is when many attributes of quality, professionalism, craftsmanship, ethics, warranty, etc. are sacrificed… leading to the rash of problems and complaints in our industry today.

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