Tips on Choosing the Right Contractor
Selecting a Contractor
Though it shouldn't have to be; the process of selecting the right contractor for the job can be extremely monotonous. You want the job done right, but you don't want to overpay to achieve your goal. In addition to receiving a professional level of quality for a fair market price, you also want to know that you are hiring someone who will complete the job promptly, conduct themselves professionally, not damage your facility, perform the work in a safe manner and will respond quickly to problems or special service requests. The problem is; how can you be sure?
There is no guaranteed, full proof, process for selecting a contractor, however; if you adhere to the following guidelines, you can minimize the risk of choosing the wrong company. Chances are; if they can pass these prerequisites, they are almost undoubtedly trustworthy and capable.
Check potential candidates with the Better Business Bureau.
- If they have a history of not responding to complaints … avoid them.
If they do not belong to the BBB … ask yourself … " why not ?"
If they are a member in good standing; they have met the first requirement.
II. Get three references / companies with similar facilities.
If they can not provide references; I recommend avoiding them until they can.
If they can provide references, but not for your type of facility; their ability to handle your type of facility may be questionable … again, avoid them until they can.
Always check the references provided and ask the key questions (quality, conduct, promptness, communications and support).
If they can provide sufficient references and they check out; they have met the second requirement.
III. Get proof of liability insurance and workers compensation.
Make sure their liability coverage is adequate under the guidelines of your own policy.
Your insurance company may require specific coverage by your contractors.
Their policy may not cover personal injury.
If they can't provide certificates for both of these; you should avoid them.
If they are covered they will have the ability to provide certificates and you should never use uninsured contractors.
Some companies claim that they aren't required to carry workers compensation because they sub contract their labor. This is most commonly done to avoid the cost of workers compensation and employment taxes. If a contractor states that their labor is sub contracted; ask them to provide proof that their labor people carry workers compensation on themselves and that they qualify as sub contractors by IRS standards.
They must contract from more than one source.
They must advertise their service or at least distribute business cards.
If they supply the proper proof, and the coverage is adequate, they have met the third requirement.
- Get three bids and make the contract conditional.
- Compare the bids.
- Are all three (or more) companies pricing your service relatively closely?
- Any bids which are within 10% of the other bids are usually fair bids.
- If a bid is more than 10% lower than the middle range there is a strong chance that the bidder either has little or no experience or has overlooked something on your facility. When this happens the company usually looks for ways to cut corners. This is quite common and happens much more often than many customers realize.
- If a bid is more than 10% higher than the middle range the bidder may not be basing your service price on the best method for the job at hand. It is also possible that they are adding a buffer because they are uncomfortable with the job at hand or, of course, they may just be price gouging.
- The middle bid is usually a safe bet with regard to the job having been properly bid, however; it is absolutely essential that the contractor meets all other criteria. Paying the proper price doesn't necessarily mean you'll get what you're paying for. Sometimes, the high or low bidder is the best company for the job. Who bid what should only become a factor after the viability of all the companies that are bidding has been ascertained.
- Conditions of the contract
- Before signing a contract for continuous service you should have your chosen contractor provide a first time service to ensure that you have made the right choice.
- If the contractor refuses to provide service without a long term (one or more years) contract; I highly recommend you avoid using them.
- Be sure the contract includes a clause allowing you to discontinue service, at any time, in the event that you become dissatisfied with their service.
- It is rare, but there have been cases where customers were legally bound to continue using a contractor they were unhappy with or to pay the monetary value of the balance of the contract term in order to terminate the contract.
- If a contractor is unwilling to do this; you should definitely avoid them.
- If the contractors price is the middle price, or within 10% of at least one of the other competing companies, and they are willing to abide by your requested contract terms; then they have met the fourth and final requirement.
We urge you to follow these steps in choosing any contractor for any service. By forcing businesses to raise their standards and provide the value you're paying to receive; you are helping not only yourself and other consumers, but all the industry professionals that strive to provide value to you.