Do Your Homework

As a former business owner, one thing I know for sure is that there will be many instances when equipment breaks and fixtures falter. These are the times that try men’s souls. One of the worst feelings is when the work day is going along smoothly and then all of a sudden a wrench gets thrown into the flow. Now it is up to you to figure out how to deal with the roadblock that has interrupted your day. One of the great things about being your own boss is that you don’t have to answer to anyone. One of the worst things about being your own boss is that there is no one there to pass the buck to when answers are needed. Thinking about this topic almost makes my skin crawl as I remember all the times when a wrench was thrown into my daily business flow. More times than not, something will go awry that will need to be dealt with.

As a restaurant owner, I had so many days filled with broken equipment that I’m not sure I can count that high, and as a new business owner, I didn’t know who to turn to for speedy efficient help in solving my dilemma. I can tell you a horror story about the first refrigeration repairman I had who worked for over six hours on my bain marie and it still did not work. That was a hefty bill and for nothing. The bain marie had become the bane of my existence. By trial and error I found a different refrigeration repairman who was wonderful, speedy and much cheaper. That was years ago now and business owners don’t just have to rely on trial and error any more in finding the right fix it company.

Today there are multitudes of options for acquiring information about service industries that could be hired to do a job for you. Most people have heard of Angie’s List, but did you know that all of the reviews are checked to verify that they indeed came from a real live consumer and not just someone at that particular company trying to make their business look better. You have to pay a little for this information but it could prove very valuable in the long run. Some other sources for company and service reviews are Yelp, Google+, Yahoo Local Listings, Insider Pages, City Search, and Consumer Search. The biggest problem with using any of these options is that there is no guarantee that the business you are looking for will be reviewed, but it is worth a try and you will be no worse off by checking first.

Then there’s the websites that are dedicated to providing the best information about businesses for consumers, The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports. The BBB will give you information about if and what type of complaint is filed against a company and if it has been resolved to the customers satisfaction. The website also rates businesses based on an F- A+ Scale, A+ being top of the heep. These are great jumping off points for checking into businesses worth working with, and don’t forget in these days of social networking such sites as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer consumers platforms to express their opinions about companies from whom they have received services. Since social networking is so huge, this is a great way to connect with people to find out their thoughts on the services a company provides. Last but not least, let’s not ignore the tool that was barely in existence way back when I needed that refrigerator repairman, the internet and websites. These days most companies have at the very least a rudimentary website and most have more sophisticated websites where testimonials might be prominently displayed extolling the virtues of said company. At least you can see a few opinions about the company; however, the company is not going to post negative comments so how valuable this is, is up for conjecture.

Based on all of these options though, your chances of having a more successful approach at picking companies to do work for you are much better than mine were, which is encouraging, but let us not forget to do our part first. A wise decision for a new business owner would be to assess as many of the areas of his/her business where problems could arise (heaven knows we can’t account for them all until they happen, but we can make a valiant effort). Make a list of potential services they may need and do research ahead of time. Read the reviews. Peruse the websites and testimonials. Ask friends, neighbors, and fellow business owners their opinions. And just plain research companies in your area so that you will have a jumping off point when problems do arise, and I promise you that they will.  When those problems transpire, you will be armed with a list of potentially favorable service companies to call. That will alleviate part of the headache right away.

Finding the right provider is huge, but there’s another element to the whole conundrum. Once you find a company that treats you well and does a great job for you, you need to treat them well in return. It has been my experience that when working with any kind of service provider, you should always make sure to pay the bill on time and be as accommodating with them as you want them to be with you. Building a good reputation works both ways, and I have found that if the customer also has a good reputation, the service provider will go above and beyond in their service to that customer. This could come in very valuable when an emergency situation arises. Having a good rapport with the companies you employ can save you a lot of headaches. When I finally found companies I could count on, I made sure that I treated them well too by paying the bill in a timely fashion and working with their availability to the best of my ability. I found that they went out of their way to be helpful to me also. So remember these three things, do your homework before you have a problem, make a go to list for when problems arise, and when you have found the company that works best for you, treat them in return as you want them to treat you. It will make a considerably positive difference when it comes to operating your business successfully.

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