A few minutes of googling will tell you that Craigslist can be a scary place.
From getting robbed in a Carl’s Jr. parking lot or getting ripped off on a wooden Xbox, it is enough to make you swear off the internet for good.
But, as businesses know, it is usually the upset customers that take the time to write out a review.
Craigslist has a lot to offer, especially when looking for a contractor. With its city-specific pages it’s possible to connect to your local landscaping companies, house cleaning services, or roofers within hours.
However, it’s tricky business navigating the internet for a reliable (and real) person to come work on your home. There are a slew of bad Craigslist experiences posted to convince you it’s impossible, but that’s far from the truth.
But how can you use Craigslist, and not get scammed? Here is what you need to know.
Posting vs. Replying to a post
It may sound strange, but typing up your own post. Listing out the specifics of what you need done can bring you more trouble than good.
Sure, you can outline an exact list of the work you need done, but you have to remember that anyone can reply. You might ask for only professional contractors to email you, but that term is pretty flexible.
Worse still, you may get twenty replies from people who just happen to have a lawn mower and a free Saturday morning and not one professional landscaper. Sorting through those replies and weeding the amateurs out will eat up your time with no guarantee for a good match.
Instead, Search for Posts from Pros
Instead, the smarter way to go about it is to look for posts, usually in the “farm and garden” or “real estate” section.
Think about it, if someone took the time to write out a list of the lawn maintenance services they provide, their prices, and their contact info, odds are they are who they say they are.
More importantly, most pros have to pay for these posts, which cuts down on the number of scams. But be sure to be on the lookout for contractor scams.
Screening Out the Rookies
Okay, so you have a few promising contractors, but where do you go from there?
If you’ve shared a few emails with the contractor already and have a quote, the next step would be a screening process. This could mean a phone call or asking for a picture of their previous work.
Some Craigslist help sites even suggest asking for pictures of their proper licensing. This makes sense for contracting jobs like roofing or window setting, but what about simple lawn mowing or yard maintenance?
The smartest questions to ask a landscaper or lawn maintenance company are the following:
How many homes do you provide lawn care services for?
Which days do you usually mow lawns?
What neighborhoods have you maintained?
Do you have a website?
The so-called yard maintenance company’s responses to the questions will help you understand if they are an actual company or a guy with a lawn mower.
Most lawn care services will have at least a few days of the week packed with lawn mowing or landscaping. Having this information on hand will tell you that they are organized and rely on proper scheduling.
Check out their website, or marketing material
Look, asking a contractor for a website reveals a lot of information on a potential contractor.
Some landscaping companies will have a website, some will be registered for a contracting site like GreenPal, and some might just be listed in the phone book. Also do a search of your contractor and look for reviews.
Having something like an ad or website they can show you legitimizes their business, but for them to shrug and say they don’t have much? Well, trusting them is completely your call.
Try GreenPal Instead
When it comes to finding a lawn care professional, you could just use GreenPal instead. GreenPal offers a platform for the best lawn care pros in your area to bid on your property.
Best of all you can see verified reviews of all of the lawn care pros on our site, written by their clients.
Why wait? Get your free lawn care bids today.
At the End of the Day
In the end, the best thing you may be able to do is to trust your gut.
A lot can be said about the way a person communicates online and on the phone. And very rarely will a scammer take the time and effort to swipe such a small sum of money, especially if it’s just a lawn mowing job.
If you are truly not sure about going through Craigslist, then the best alternative is to go through GreenPal, where we screen every lawn care service that applies to be on our website.
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