A Contractor’s reputation is important. Reputation is quantified by things like online reviews, which you can find on websites, directories and listings. Word of mouth also plays an important role, and that’s really all that online reviews are: an extension of word-of-mouth. Home Improvement is a personal business, so the opinion of prior customers is valuable information when you set out to hire a contractor.
The Truth About Contractor Reputation: Online Reviews: Real vs. RiggedOnline Directory Reputation MonitoringCraftPro’s Review Philosophy
Customer reviews and testimonials play an important role in a homeowner’s decision whether to hire a contractor or not. So how do you place value on a review or testimonial? What makes the online review influence your decision when it comes to making a hire? Think quality, not quantity.
Researching Contractor’s Reviews and Reputation: How To Know What to Trust
You’re smart: you research contractors’ reputations before making a hire. That’s why you’re here: to learn more about contractor reputations. You’re not going to hire a contractor, give them money, and let them into your home without knowing as much as possible about them. And what better way to learn about a home improvement contractor than the internet, with its wealth of information: business listings and directories devoted to contractor reputation monitoring. Besides, online reviews are an extension of word of mouth. The only problem is, sometimes that word of mouth is from an anonymous source, or from someone you don’t know (which might as well be the same thing). That makes it hard to trust. So…
Ultimately, you’re going to want to get references from contractors. That’s a good way to verify a contractor’s reputation, and that’s something you want to do thoroughly because reviews can be manipulated, business listings can be misleading, and reputation monitoring agencies can be driven by incentives.
You’re not going to let just anyone perform work on your house. It’s an enormous risk. You’ve heard the home improvement horror stories. Researching the reputation of your contractor, reading their online customer reviews and gathering references are crucially important things to do before you make a hire. Otherwise you could end up disappointed, let down, or worse. At the very worst you could get scammed – rare as that may be, it does actually happen. You’re not going to let that happen to yourself. We’re not going to let that happen to you either.
Here’s the (somewhat bitter) truth…
Online Reviews are Easily Rigged & Manipulated
So, you’ve read a bunch of reviews from a bunch of different sources. The problem is, how do you know you can trust the authenticity of those reviews? The online review game is very easily manipulated by less-than-honest contractors.
You know how some contractors provide a long list of testimonials and reviews when you meet them? In some cases there are literally hundreds of reviews, and all of them are perfect…
It’s impressive, right? Of course it is.
Right up until you get your contract and you see a clause offering you some sort of discount or other incentive if you write them a positive review.
Suddenly it becomes clear how the contractor drummed-up so many positive reviews, and this is where “quality over quantity” comes into play. Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean the contractor is no good – again, don’t jump to conclusions. But it should raise a little red flag. This is why gathering references is such a good idea.
When it Gets Really Ugly: Manufactured Reviews
In very rare cases, contractor’s online reviews are not to be trusted whatsoever. I’ve heard stories of contractors creating online profiles for their “customers”: all they need is a fake email address and they can do what they please. The contractor can then go ahead and publish 5-star reviews across the internet. It’s a dishonest, easy way for a contractor to build a “veneer” or “facade” of a reputation, and it makes the 95% of us honest contractors look bad.
The reality that online reviews are easily manipulated has created a demand for a better way to verify a contractor’s reputation. That’s where referral services, directories, and “lists” websites come in. Unfortunately, they’re not perfect either…
Directories and Lists that Monitor Contractor Reputations and Online Reviews
So what about those big directories and lists that “no contractor can pay to be on”? They claim to provide a thorough vetting process. For the most part they are well-intended, but they are businesses, too. And they have to turn a profit. So they sell advertising space to contractors. The front page is a list of the highest-rated contractors who also paid to be on the front page. And the next logical thing to ask is “what else do they sell to their paying contractors”? What else do those directories provide? I know, from personal experience, that a lot of online directories and lists will offer to work with paying contractors to hide – even completely erase – negative reviews. They have flat out told me that when they try to get me to pay them for advertising space (and we get calls from them every day).
So, why not pay? Because personally I don’t feel comfortable with their practices, and – quite frankly – CraftPro’s reputation and exposure is doing just fine without having to rig the system. So no, I don’t pay to advertise CraftPro Contracting on any directory, or anyone’s “list”. CraftPro’s customer reviews are all organic: we got them simply by providing stellar service and then asking at the end of the job, and our customers were happy to provide us with some very flattering reviews. They all agreed to act as references, too, and we are really grateful to all of them.
So How Can You Trust An Online Review?
So Read Online Reviews and Determine How Substantive They Are. If They Sound Good: Contact the Contractor and Ask for References
The Takeaway: References Can Prove Review Authenticity
CraftPro’s Customer Review Practices & Philosophy
We provide references for every single customer review. When a homeowner provides us with a review or testimonial we ask if we can forward their contact info to potential customers. So each review is independently verifiable.
I’ve set up free profiles for CraftPro Contracting on many contractor directories and business listing websites (e.g. Google, Bing, Yelp, Manta, MerchantCircle, Yellow Pages, BusinessFinder, Angie’s List, etc) and I let them be. Our customers can review our work on several websites if they choose to do so, and we leave it up to them. The ones that provide reviews: we ask them if we can dish out their email address or phone number to potential clients. They’ve all agreed, and that’s great: references are important and they’re hard to rig. So all of our reviews (click here to read them) are independently verifiable.
What’s more, our reviews are all 5-stars and Straight A’s but more importantly, they’re descriptive and elaborate. CraftPro’s customers have taken the time to write some really flattering, lengthy reviews of our work and our practices. That’s a quality reputation. We don’t have any less-than perfect reviews (yet). That doesn’t mean that every single customer has been completely thrilled, it just means that none have been terribly disappointed. According to one study, an unhappy customer is 300% more likely to write a negative review than a satisfied customer is to write a positive one. So we know we’re doing something right.
Our reviews on Angie’s List are all perfect straight-A grades across every category, and so are our reviews on Google. We don’t pay a dollar for either (or any) listing. If we did, our straight-A’s would make us eligible for the “Super Service Award” that Angie gives to her paying contractors. It’s hard to trust a system like that. I do trust Google. They have never tried to get me to pay for anything, whereas other directories call me all day to try to get me to pay. I prefer to let customers provide reviews when they want to do so, be it a good or bad review. And I let the reviews be. Our perfect reviews are the result of dedication to customer service. Period.
I don’t ever try to squeeze a positive customer review out of the homeowners we work for. I don’t want a “veneer” of a reputation. I want CraftPro’s reviews to accurately represent our service. And they do.
Below are some highlights of the flattering reviews provided by our customers. Our success is measured by their satisfaction. Click any slide to jump to that customer’s full review on our Reviews & Testimonials page.
I have never once provided an incentive for a review or testimonial in any way whatsoever. I simply ask, at the end of the job, for an honest assessment of the home improvement project. I am dedicated to keeping customers satisfied through meticulous attention to detail and customer expectations, honest and open communication, and superior quality home improvements. Contact me, CraftPro’s founding owner, Richard D’Angelo, to request a free estimate or to request a list of contact information for each of the customers who provided the testimonials and reviews you can check out by clicking here.
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps you in your efforts to research a contractor’s reputation. Never forget the most important part: references verify the authenticity of a contractor’s published online reviews!
This is our first blog post of 2015. Best wishes for a successful year and happy home improving!