Is Your “Local” Home Service Provider Really Local?
Imagine this… you get ready to leave for work in the morning and your garage door doesn’t go up. Like many, your first action is to pull out your phone, open Google and search for a local repair company that can help. Your search is met with a multitude of options.
You call one… when you call, it rings for a while then sounds like the call transfers and a person picks up stating a different company name than what you called. When asked if they are local, they say, “Yes. My mobile team is local and can go anywhere.”
They tell you their service fee is only $39 and that they can get there this morning. Feeling like $39 is a fair rate, you book the appointment. Four hours later, a truck shows up without any company name on it. Now on-site, the service tech informs you that the issues are much more serious than expected and repairs will cost close to $1000.
What do you do? You need to get your car out. You need to get to work. You recount the inconsistencies in your experience with them so far… different business name than you called… unbranded truck… and WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT $39 SERVICE FEE!?!? Is this guy being honest?
Sadly, this scenario and countless others like it happen to local residents all over America every day. And what’s worse than the inflated repair bill is the fact that you really don’t know who the home service provider is you let into your home. Do they even have the right business insurance? Are they putting your home and family at risk?
Home service is one business sector where not everyone who claims to be local really is. Keep that in mind when you have needs related to garage doors, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and the like. Proving the authenticity of their claim of being local should be a part of your research process so you don’t get ripped off.
This article will help you with your research because it will provide:
- Examples of truly local home service providers, as well as providers that claim to be local but really aren’t
- Benefits of using truly local home service providers
- Ways to confirm whether or not a home service provider is actually local
What Does It Mean to Be a Truly Local Home Service Provider?
If you’re looking for a truly local home service provider, it means you’re looking for a business that is:
- Headquartered and operates almost entirely within your community or a neighboring community that is within short driving distance.
- Family-owned and operated, in many but not all cases, and has been a part of the community for years or even decades. It’s likely a business you’ve heard of and maybe even know where they’re located even if you’ve never utilized their services.
Conversely, here are some examples of businesses that claim to be local that really aren’t or fall into a gray area:
- A large, non-local company or franchise with remote salespeople. The only connection this type of business has to the local community is that they employ salespeople who look for business opportunities in the area.
- A lead-generation company that seems legitimate but routes phone calls to a local service provider in their coverage area (often a general handyman operating out of his house). Similar to the previous example, this business structure is a way to bring in business from a large service area under the guise of being local, even though the connection to the community is minimal.
- A general handyman operating out of his house. This is the gray area example because it is technically a local home service provider, but there will always be questions about reliability. When dealing with a solo handyman instead of a business consisting of a team of experts, there is more risk with regard to quality and timeliness of work. As this article from Entrepreneur explains, it’s hard to run a successful one-person business, which means they could be here today and gone tomorrow.
What are the Benefits of Utilizing Truly Local Home Service Providers?
There are several benefits of hiring home service providers that are truly local:
- They have a local brick and mortar. When a business puts down roots in a community with a physical building, it’s a sign that they aren’t going anywhere and will be there for you when you need them. Local pros with a brick and mortar are much more likely to have a positive reputation and references to back it than an outsider. Their visibility within the community makes a difference. A non-local that isn’t tied to an area with a building they own or are renting can quickly disappear with little or no notice.
- They provide fair pricing and transparency. Their reputation depends on it because they can’t afford to alienate locals. With companies posing as local that aren’t solely reliant on area residents, there is a greater possibility that they will rip you off and overcharge you on products and services. You must be leery of a bait and switch. For example, a non-local home service provider may have a low service call fee but then inflate rates for parts and labor once they arrive. A good local company would help you diagnose potential issues over the phone and give you a free ballpark estimate of what your project could cost before they even come on-site. It’s always recommended to get a price upfront before any work begins.
- They have the right insurance and permits. You can rest easy knowing everything is on the up and up and in compliance. With non-locals you are less familiar with, there’s a chance they may be lacking required insurance or accreditation. If that’s the case, it could create issues for you during or after a project.
How Do You Know If a Local Home Service Provider is Actually Local?
If you want to verify if a home service provider is actually local, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands. You shouldn’t take the word of a website, ad or even a person you talk to… even if they provide an address for their local brick and mortar and it’s in your community or a neighboring one. There have been examples of companies claiming to be local that provide addresses to inquiring individuals, but those addresses are for vacant buildings or other businesses. They just want people to think they’re located nearby.
As part of your vetting process, you should:
- Search for the business on Google Maps using the business name and/or address. Use the satellite or street view to see if you can confirm that the business exists as claimed. Another option would be to actually drive to the location to take a look for yourself.
- Search for the business on the Better Business Bureau website. This will enable you to confirm that the information you have on the business is accurate. You can also learn additional information about the business such as their BBB rating, customer complaints, customer reviews and more.
- Ask the business for local references. A truly local business should have plenty and be willing to share them. A business that isn’t local will probably be more reluctant. Either way, contacting references allows you to learn directly from other customers whether their experience with the business was good or bad and why.
It’s a noble cause to support local businesses, and there are many benefits to utilizing local home service providers. You just need to be diligent in confirming that the business you’re considering is actually local. Doing so can be the difference between a positive and negative experience.