Contractor reputations tend to change slowly, but their quality and/or level of service (not to mention prices!) can change . . . overnight.
Long before the first sour evaluations start to show up on rating services such as Angie’s List, astute observers (like busy, local Realtors) will note that a particular contractor seems to have slipped a notch — or two.
What are the signs?
I think of the following three developments as “yellow flags” warranting more investigation/attention:
One. Death of the founder/change in ownership.
Some companies manage the transition from founder to second generation — or independent company to subsidiary — just fine.
Others, well . . .
Two. *Rapid Growth.
Consistent, organic growth is a sign of a well-run company.
By contrast, pell mell growth for the sake of growth leads to lack of customer continuity, quality issues, and cumbersome bureaucracy.
And while greater size has some advantages (like more resources), it’s also the case that it can be harder to deliver uniform service.
So, I know of a local roofer with about a dozen crews, 3 of which are reportedly excellent, 6-7 good-to-OK — and the last 2 . . . not so hot.
Three. New Lines of Business (brand extension).
Can the furnace repair company also do good job installing a new central air conditioner?
Maybe, but you might not want to be their first customer.
*Interestingly, at least in a recession, workforce contraction doesn’t seem to be as worrisome.
That’s because companies understandably try to retain their most productive, experienced workers.