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.
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. These are the ways you can make sure that you will get exactly what you expect from a Craigslist contractor.
Posting vs. Replying to a post
It may sound strange, but typing up your own post, listing out 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 than anyone can reply. You might ask for only professional contractors to email you, but that term is pretty flexible. You might 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.
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.
Screening the rookies
Okay, so you have a few promising contractors, but where do you go from there? If you’ve shared a few emails already and have a quote, the next step would be a screening process. This could mean a phone call or asking for a picture for 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, and having this information on hand will tell you that they are organized and rely on proper scheduling.
Asking a potential 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.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.
In the end, the best thing you can do is to trust your gut. A lot can be said for a 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 only alternative is to go through GreenPal, where we screen and test every lawn care service that applies to be on our website.