How to select a contractor and purchase a new HVAC system

How to Read and Evaluate Reviews for Home Services Companies

Reading and evaluating reviews for home services companies such as plumbers, electricians, and HVAC companies shouldn’t be that hard, right?

Figuring out which companies not to use–That’s a little easier than narrowing down who TO use. There will be several companies that just don’t seem to care about their reviews. They don’t have that many, and the ones they do have are either lukewarm or are filled with complaints.

Believe it or not, these companies aren’t necessarily that bad, they just don’t have a program to encourage their happy customers to post reviews, which means that only the ones that are not happy leave reviews. No matter how good a company is, they are going to have some unhappy customers. Maybe because of something they did accidentally, maybe because the customers are just grumpy. But either way, when companies don’t seem to care about their reviews, it is an indication that management has not made consistently excellent customer service a top priority.

Sorting Through Home Services Reviews

Google is generally the best source for reviews, so we recommend starting there. But how do you discriminate among the top 3-4 companies who all have similar scores?

  1. Frequency and Trend — Sort the reviews by the most recent reviews and scan the last 7-10 reviews. How often are customers leaving reviews? Is the trend positive or negative? Companies go through different phases. Employees come and go, management attention comes and goes, and focus waxes and wanes. Just because someone had good service a year ago, doesn’t mean you will today.
  2. How Problems are Handled — Next, sort the reviews to show the worst reviews first. Get a sense for how often bad reviews are happening and when the last bad review was. Then get a sense for whether you think the bad review is reasonable or not. Finally, pay careful attention to the company’s response. Do they take responsibility and apologize (even if it appears the customer is unreasonable). Do they seem open and honest, and willing to accept their mistakes and try and make it better? Every company makes mistakes, but handling them well is a real skill and often indicates that the company’s values are well intact. 
  3. Look at All Sources — Even though Google reviews are usually the most comprehensive, do a search for the company you’re researching in your regular search engine. Usually the top 10 results will yield reviews from Yelp, Facebook, HomeAdvisor, Angies List, and the BBB. Scan down the page and see if anything stands out. If the Yelp reviews are significantly worse than Google, that’s a red flag. It’s typical that they be a little worse, because Yelpers are a bit harder to please than the average bear, but if the difference is night and day, you should dig a little deeper. It may indicate that the company is massaging their Google reviews, which is a lot harder to do on Yelp. 

Wrapping Up: Choosing a Home Services Company

Doing your homework when checking out which company to trust with your home repairs is time well spent. Home repairs don’t come cheap, and when you find people you trust, it can make a big difference to the resulting comfort and peace of mind when improving and maintaining your home. If you have any doubts about who to use, reach out to your friends. They will have lots of experiences, both good and bad, and are often eager to share!