They key to being able to offer a guarantee to the homeowner is anchored in third-party Customer Service and Conflict Resolution. In other words, build a relationship with contractors and hold them accountable from beginning till after the project is completed. There are many people that will lead you to believe that the pre-screening process offers protection. However, pre-screening does not ultimately offer any protection. Many websites offer public reviews as a form of protection. However, reviews can be manipulated and, if you are stuck with a bad job, you are left holding the bag with only the option of complaining so the next guy doesn’t get taken. The contractor can then have a few of his friends or family go write a good review so it swallows up any bad reviews. The Better Business Bureau offers a conflict resolution platform, but does not get physically involved or offer any financial compensation if you used one of their “Accredited” companies. In the end, it is still just you against the contractor and, in most cases, the contractor gets to keep an A+ grade for doing nothing more than responding to the complaint. The complaint does not need to be resolved for the contractor to stay in good standing.
Think about it. What are your options if the job is low quality? Until now, your only option was to complain or enter into a legal battle that could drag out for months or years with no guarantee of resolution! Neither of those options sound good at all!
Customer Service and Conflict Resolution
The Good Contractors Organization holds our contractors accountable. We record every call that comes through our website and we call back every single homeowner to make sure they were taken care of. Our customer service reps immediately respond to complaints and start working on the resolution. For example, if a contractor didn’t show up for his appointment, we immediately hear about it from the homeowner and we call the contractor to find out what happened and why they didn’t call. It is an imperfect world and things happen all the time, that does not mean the contractor is bad. We do our best to smooth things over so the work can be completed and doesn’t escalate. There have been times where we realized that, even though the contractor was a good honest guy and took care of problems, the contractor lacked in some area enough to remove them from our team. It breaks our hearts when it happens, but we are here to limit bad experiences as much as possible. Our contractors are very responsive and it rarely requires our intervention, but we have never looked past a complaint or tried to sweep something under the rug.
What happens when things go really wrong?
We have developed a resolution process that is second to none. Our contractors do not want to get removed from our list, so I have found that they bend over backwards to make sure the customer is happy. So the first step is to give the contractor the opportunity to fix any issue. Homeowners do not trust contractors and get us involved out of fear . They simply need to know that we know of their doubts and that they have our support. 99% of the time the contractor would have fixed the issue without ever involving us, but it puts the homeowner at ease to know that we know about the issue.
If at the end of the project the homeowner is still not happy and the contractor is at a stand-still, this is when we get physically involved and coordinate a walk-through. We walk through the entire project with all parties present. The homeowner, the contractor, a representative from The Good Contractors Organization, and an inspector or industry professional to check the work will be present. We also encourage the homeowner to hire their own inspector if they want an additional opinion. With all parties present, it is very difficult to avoid seeing the whole picture. There is no “he said she said” when we are all there. There have been times where it was apparent that the contractor’s idea of quality did not match our ideal. We removed those contractors and paid out of our pocket for the job to be fixed by another one of our contractors. The homeowners were elated at the final product and it never cost them a dime more than their original agreement. However, there have been times where we found an unscrupulous homeowner who was apparently trying to take advantage of the contractor. It becomes blatantly obvious when everyone is there looking each other in the eyes. There have been very few grey areas, and we have always been able to come to a reasonable agreement when there are disagreements.
Worst Case Scenario
There has been only once that we just allowed a BAD contractor onto our list. This contractor had another person pose as the owner of the company, since he had a record, and somehow we just didn’t catch it. The company had an A+ on the BBB and showed to be in business since 1995. They joined our organization and immediately began responding to inquiries from homeowners. The only feedback we were getting from homeowners in the beginning was that he was really nice, knew his stuff, and they were waiting on a bid. They got the bid back in a timely manner and homeowners began signing contracts with them and writing checks for the deposit to buy materials. The contractor gave them a start date that was several weeks out. When it got close to the start date the contractor began making excuses (death in the family, sick, whatever) as to why they couldn’t start, and then push the start date back another week. The homeowners started calling us when the contractor finally stopped communicating with them altogether. We immediately saw the red flag on the first call and started calling back every homeowner who had ever called the contractor. We found 9 families that were having problems with this contractor. The problems ranged from the contractor taking the deposit and never getting started to the contractor getting started on the job and then disappearing. There was actually one very small job that the contractor completed. We tried to get the contractor to respond, but like them, the contractor made excuses and then finally stopped communicating with us. We removed the contractor and gave several warnings. The only responses we received from the contractor were confusing and belligerent with threats of legal action. Needless to say, we found ourselves a bad contractor with some real issues. But wait, it gets better. Since this contractor entered into contracts, there was no way to press charges against him for theft. The only option anyone would have is to sue him and nobody had the money to get into a lawsuit, especially knowing they would never see their money returned to them. So, we began writing checks to those who gave the contractor a deposit and had several of our contractors intervene on the partially completed jobs. The sad thing is that this company is still out there doing business. So, we did the only thing we thought would have any impact. Here is a link to the Channel 11 News Story. The Good Contractors Organization jumps in front of bullets…we don’t dodge them! See our Terms and Conditions to see that it isn’t just a bunch of loopholes, but a solid plan to keep everyone involved honest and come to a fair resolution!