Southwest Florida is a growth market that’s saturated with contractors – roofers, builders, plumbers, electricians, HVAC techs and more.
Visit Yellow Pages for a roofing contractor in Naples, for example, and 205 companies are listed. Search in Fort Myers, and a whopping 334 companies will show up. Google, Bing and Yahoo will produce similar results.
Search engines may take you to splashy, well-designed websites aimed at generating leads, but bad companies can have great websites. How are you supposed to tell if a roofing contractor is legit?
Over the years, shady contractors with deceptive business practices have stained the reputations of contractors as a whole. These bad apples – con artists – make it difficult for consumers to trust contractors, even reputable, honest companies like Target Roofing. There are, however, certain tell-tale signs that a contractor might not be a good choice. Consider these seven factors when evaluating potential contractors:
A recent check of Better Business Bureau registries shows 18 roofing contractors in Lee County with a P.O. Box, including several that share the same box. Meanwhile, other companies listed by the BBB use a residential apartment for their official address or a seemingly vacant storefront in a strip mall. Legitimate contractors operate from commercial properties that are large enough to hold meetings, park vehicles, store equipment and manufacture products.
Online, contractors can claim to be “serving the Fort Myers area,” but their headquarters is located in another region of Florida, or even another state. They don’t have a physical presence here. To complete projects in this area, though, they hire subcontractors or unskilled laborers – not who you want working on your business or home.
All of Lee and Collier counties are covered by the (239) area code, so that prefix can indicate a company’s location. Many businesses use (800) numbers, though, since property owners and management companies that have properties in Southwest Florida often are located elsewhere. If a roofing company’s published phone number begins with (305), (954), (407), (813) or an unrecognizable prefix, beware – they likely are not local.
Heavy equipment and machinery is expensive, so inexperienced companies and those without steady cash flow often opt to rent equipment as they go. Successful, established companies see those capital assets as an investment into the company’s future. Ownership, whether it’s a home, vehicle or business, is a sign of stability. Look for a company logo to indicate that a business owns a piece of equipment.
Word of mouth is always the best referral, but relatively small social networks translates into a small sample size. Scan customer reviews through the Better Business Bureau, Yelp and Facebook. You’re bound to find a complaint or two, but multiple grievances should raise a red flag.
Every industry has professional associations that serve as the industry’s voice and promote best practices, coordinate professional development and advocate for the field. Contractors devoted to their field will belong to several organizations and take an active role in guiding their occupation into the future.
Professional organizations, manufacturers and civic groups honor businesses and individuals through competitive awards programs. These awards help signify a company’s reputation within the community as well as the profession, so avoid contractors with an empty trophy shelf.