San Antonio has no shortage of local businesses. We are a city of entrepreneurs which makes our city wonderful and gives you the customer lots of options. Landscaping and Outdoor Living companies are no exception. As a consumer, your goal is to find the best bang for the buck. More importantly nowadays is finding a qualified, reputable company that will do what they say they are going to do at a reasonable time frame and price. This can be tricky with so many businesses to choose from but taking the time to research will pay big rewards.
But don't worry, we have given you some guidelines below to ensure a great relationship between you and your contractor. This information is good whether you are looking for a landscaping company (VHS hint hint) or if you are looking to hire anyone to work in your home or office.
1. Check for Online Reviews and Testimonials
Groups like Angie’s List and Google are a great place to view a prospective company’s reviews and testimonials. Look for patterns in the reviews; you will begin to see trends like "great customer service" or "wonderful attention to detail". Also be on the lookout for markers that you will want to avoid like "not responsive to calls/emails" or "issues with quality". Take a look too at the worst reviews, not just the best. This can really gauge the reputation of a company.
2. Ask About Processes and Make Sure You Have a Contract!
INQUIRE. Feel free to ask questions related to the work you are looking to have done. It is hard to make a financial decision without knowing fully what you are buying. Talking to a contractor should be a schooling, like Landscaping 101. At the end of the meeting with a contractor you should feel informed about the work you are doing and feel comfortable that the contractor is familiar and experience in the work you are requesting. If you approve the work and hire a contractor, make sure to get a contract. The contract should have the scope of work, payment details and what happens in the event of a liability. All contractors should carry licenses for the their trade (as applicable) and insurance for the "just in case" scenarios. I can, and probably will, write a whole separate blog about contracts as it is so important.
3. Compare Apples to Apples
Price is always a factor. Whether it be a $2,000 bed alteration or a $200,000 complete landscape renovation you are looking to have done, price is a consideration when choosing a company. Someone once said that a customer does not know what they want to spend but they know exactly how much is too much. When you are considering doing work to your home or office, see if you can come up with a budget. You would do this when buying a car or a home or deciding what private school for your children to attend; having a budget for your project is good thing. You may say that you have no idea what a reasonable price would be for the work you want or need done; and you would not be alone. Most customers do not know how much they want to spend on a project. In this case, getting several estimates is also a good thing to do. Be aware though that scope of work can vary the price considerably. The estimates should be thorough so you can you look over the various estimates to see which contractor included what. Just because you show various contractors the work you want done, does not mean that all of the work will show up on the bid. This can make some estimates look much lower. Conversely, you may have someone estimate above and beyond what you are requesting, making their estimate higher than others. If different contractors have different ideas of quality, this will show on the bid as well. A contractor that has much higher quality of service and product could be considerably higher than another. In most cases the old adage rings true, you get what you pay for. If there is a price discrepancy, reach out to the contractors to inquiry why. They quoted the number so should be able to explain the details.
One thing can be done to make sure the work you want done is done properly, as you are envisioning and at the right price. Consider having a design put together for your project. There are third party designers and many contractors have designers in-house. We offer complete landscape and outdoor living designs that can be used to compare our price with other contractors. You still need to review the estimates to make sure the scope of work is the same but you can rest assured that your visions are represented in the design.