Here are a few places to focus on in your research:
The Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides insight into ethical behavior, and it also allows you to get the story behind the project. Look at BBB reviews and pay attention to issues: construction is complex and errors occur, but how did the contractor handle complications?
Consumer Reviews: How Does the Service Rank?
Various resources are available online to list and rank reviews of service providers. They, along with social media referrals and discussions, are quickly becoming the go-to word-of-mouth resources. You should be able to find information about project, price, proficiency and quality by conducting a Google search for provider reviews.
Dun and Bradstreet Credit Report: Is the Business Stable?
A pool is a major investment; you definitely want to trust the company taking a sizable sum of your money and digging up your yard. Dunn & Bradstreet (D&B) will help you validate the stability of your contractor’s business and its processes.
Check References: How Many Does He Provide?
The issue here is potential cherry picking. Does your candidate provide a comprehensive list of references or a few names? It’s generally a sign of confidence when you are given 100 customers to follow up on, as opposed to 10. When you do call references, find out what kind of pool/work was performed, what went well, what didn’t, how were problems fixed? Examples close to your own will be most comforting: if you’re considering a fiberglass pool, fiberglass examples will be most helpful.
Accreditations & Certifications: How Connected is He?
Reputable pool contractors are generally accredited, certified and/or generally associated with professional industry organizations. Look for relationships and awards from entities like the National Spa & Pool Institute (personal certifications), Chamber of Commerce, Aquatech Society, and state builders associations.
Ask Friends With Pools: Whom Do They Recommend?
You’ll get great information from people who have been there. What is pool life like? How seamless or challenging was the building process, and how could you be best prepared? Would they recommend their contractor?
An Informative Website: Does it Educate?
These days, you can find out a lot about a person or company before contracting with them. Is this a legitimate business with physical address? How much information is available and is it valuable? Are you learning something? If the owner is sharing details about options, features, problems and solutions—it’s a good sign you’re looking at a pro. You want to work someone who shares knowledge.
Contractors may also provide referrals for financing and landscaping, generally signs of a well-connected business dedicated to producing a quality product. But check the referrals to be sure.
The next step is to interview prospective pool contractors. What questions should you ask? Download our free checklist, Choose the Right Pool, Options and Builder for a comprehensive list.
photo credit: Dita Margarita via photopin cc