Have you ever had someone highly recommend a restaurant to you but you weren’t entirely impressed after trying it? Or how about a movie?
These are low impact examples; now imagine trusting something as important as the roof on your home to an unqualified referral. Most of us instinctively qualify the recommendations we receive, but here is some practical advice on doing that more effectively since your decision is so important.
Start With Your Inner Circle
You’ll probably do this anyway but it needs to be on the list. The people you are closely associated with tend to share many of your own values and priorities. Since most homeowners only do a roof once or twice in a lifetime, they may or may not be able to help but it’s still a good starting point.
Evaluate the Source of the Referral
This seems somewhat obvious but it’s too easy to trust referrals just because you know the person and like them. The point above about values and priorities applies:
- Does their buying criteria closely match your own?
- Do they typically shop for value or price?
- Do they think long term on their buying decisions?
- Are they cautious and prone to due diligence before buying?
You should ask yourself many such questions. The buying habits of your referrer reveal whether they favor the best deal versus whether they consider the lower long term costs of making higher value buying decisions.
Also consider their areas of expertise. A computer programmer may not be the best choice for a roofing referral. In fairness, you never know though. This is being written by a web guy who knows a lot about construction. But you should still consider the source and measure against all the variables.
Get the Inside Track If You Can
If you can, seek out the advice of someone you trust in some form of construction. Even though that referral source may not personally engage in the type of work your project involves, contractors are well connected and provide a valuable source of information.
At first, you might not think to ask an electrician or plumber about roofing, but they not only know people, they may have worked with them on a home building or addition project. Other contractors are able to tell the good guys from the bad guys and they most definitely talk amongst each other.
If you need a new roof, or any other kind of home improvement project, you’ll naturally want to seek referrals. And you’ll get them because people genuinely want to help. Referrals are a good and prudent step, but unless you have access to a truly reliable source, caution is still advised.
The information above will help you get a better handle on referrals and look beyond the surface. It’s best if referrals are only part of your strategy, but at least now you can be more confident in qualifying the referrals you get.