A contractor’s reputation is one of his most valuable assets. A good contractor is very willing to share his reputation with his future clients. Does the contractor have a record of unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other associations, like the City License Bureau, the State Department of Commerce or with any of his clients or competitors? These agencies investigate complaints from consumers alleging violations of laws and rules, and when necessary, take disciplinary action against a contractor’s license.
How does the BBB work? When the BBB receives a complaint, it presents the complaint to the business and requests its assistance in working out the problem with the unhappy customer. Most companies are grateful for the opportunity to resolve problems with their customers since it often means their patronage will be preserved.
- members agree to respond to consumer complaints presented by the BBB, and lose their membership if they do not. Most other companies, regardless of whether they are BBB members, also cooperate with the BBB because the BBB can still report on a company if they are not a member. Your local BBB is listed in the telephone book and online at Minnesota.BBB.org.
A reputation is something that sticks with a contractor for years. It takes years of reliable work, many satisfied customers and enduring relationships with suppliers to build up a good reputation. Conversely, it takes years of shoddy work, unsatisfied customers and adversarial relationships with suppliers to create a bad reputation. If a trusted friend, colleague, family member or supplier tries to steer you away from a contractor or is vague on the details, listen to your gut! Since contractors don’t receive report cards, this is a very important part of finding out about them. Every contractor has a reputation.
Unacceptable: The contractor doesn’t have any references that he is willing to share, or hasn’t been in business long enough to have any references. The contractor has a history of being in small claims court with customers or suppliers. The contractor has a reputation of not paying his subs or suppliers timely or at all. The contractor doesn’t have a standing in the community, no one has heard of him, no one knows of the company and no one has had a relationship with him.
Good: The contractor will give references upon request. These references may or may not be recent and may or may not be related to the project you are considering.
Better: The contractor has a list of references for recent jobs that are like your job and willingly shares them with you.
Best: The contractor has many references, has testimonials from past customers who had projects like yours and exhibits a history of pleasing his customers and completing his jobs in a satisfactory manner. Any problems that may have arisen have been resolved in a positive manner. People in the better or best categories understand the idea of reputation and are proactive in maintaining a good reputation.