Expert Interview Series: Keith Riley of RenovationFind.com on The Value Of Business Directors For General Contractors and How To Find The Most Qualified Contracting Professionals

Quality contractors

Keith Riley is the CEO of RenovationFind.com

RenovationFind.com is a directory of highly-skilled, certified contractors. What made you realize that a listing of quality contractors was necessary in the first place?

I have owned a granite countertop company for 10 years and we are usually one of the last contractors involved in major home renovations. Over the years I have heard countless stories of homeowners being ripped off by bad contractors. Not only were people having a hard time finding quality contractors, the renovation industry was getting a bad reputation. In order to protect consumers from being ripped off in order to change the perception of the industry, there needed to be a place where people could find accredited, reputable general contractors and renovation companies.

When RenovationFind.com was first starting out, how would you find these contractors? What are some clues for differentiating quality contractors from the rest?

When we first started www.renovationfind.com, we paid a lot of money upfront to do the research and background checks on general contractors and renovation companies. We use a third-party to make sure they have legal, credit and financial clearance. We also ask the companies to send us their business license, insurance and their WCB.

Business directories aren’t just good for consumers – they can be an invaluable marketing tool, as well. The Local Search Association published a statistic that 8 out of 10 consumers look up a company before hiring, and 8 out of those 10 will result in a sale or purchase. What are a few reasons why business directories are so good at getting actual business?

More and more, consumers are doing their research online before hiring. Businesses need to improve their online exposure and make a good impression online if they want to compete in the marketplace. Since home renovations are such a major investment, homeowners will put more time in researching companies to ensure the business they hire has a good reputation for quality workmanship and customer service.

How can getting listed on a business directory serve as a kind of targeted marketing, based on what the customers are looking for? How might a contractor tailor their content to meet those customers’ needs?

RenovationFind.com has put a lot of time, money and effort in search engine optimization for our directories category pages. As a result, for example, if a company is listed in our General Contractors category, consumers will find their business listing on RenovationFind.com within the first page Google search results.

Being clear about what services your renovation company offers on your profile will help customers find the right company for their specific needs. More than that, having a listing on RenovationFind.com shows customers that your business has been pre-screened, approved and that your company is one that they can trust.

Organic reach for social media is constantly diminishing, as different networks implement new algorithms. How much time should a contracting company invest in getting listed on directories or trying to get reviews, rather than updating a Facebook page or Twitter account, as far as contractors are concerned?

I would recommend that companies spend time doing both: utilizing social media and making sure your company is listen on good internet directories. Although organic reach is not as good as it used to be, it is definitely not dead and social media is still a very important tool for extending your online reach and improving your search engine optimization.

Business directories can also act like forums or message boards, which used to be a useful source of web traffic. How can a well-made listing on a business directory help a company’s website increase in Google Page ranking, and why does that matter?

While some directories are review-based or offer a forum for consumers to discuss products and services, directories like RenovationFind become trusted sources that consumers are regularly and actively using. Using keywords and phrases in your business profile or listing will help your RenovationFind profile come up on Google search results. It’s also important to remember that RenovationFind.com has invested heavily in SEO for your business category page which will give your business a boost as well.

RenovationFind.com runs legal background checks on all of the companies that you list. What are a few things that you look for? What are some red flags people should be on the lookout for, if they’re researching a contractor?

We’ve heard stories of homeowners hiring a general contractor that was about to go bankrupt or who actually had criminal charges laid against them for fraud or taking people’s money without finishing the job. Our legal background checks will find these things, plus make sure the company has good credit and is legally licenced to run a business.

We also continually monitor all of the renovation companies on our website so we can see if there are any negative changes in a way a company is operating and if they are headed toward financial trouble or bankruptcy. Just because a company is good today, doesn’t mean they might find themselves in trouble in the future. We want to make sure that all of the listings on RenovationFind.com are up-to-date so consumers can know that if they found it on our website, they are trustworthy and do good work.

You also check for business licenses. Why is it so important for a contractor to be fully licensed and insured? What are some of the risks of working with unlicensed contractors?

It is illegal to operate without a business licence in most Canadian cities. By requesting proof of a valid business license, we are ensuring that the general contractor or renovation company is legitimate and complies with local laws and regulations. For example, some contractors are required to have a specific license in order to take a deposit before the job is started. Giving a deposit to a contractor without these types of licenses is a big red flag.

A company having proper insurance actually helps to protect the homeowner. If they don’t have insurance and someone gets hurt or something in the home is damaged, then the homeowner could be liable for those damages. In the case of a work-site injury, a person could actually file a lawsuit against you as the homeowner. Some contractors will obtain temporary insurance on a job-to-job basis and that is okay, but if they refuse to produce insurance or to obtain it for the job than do not hire them.

A lot of business directories, like Yelp, give preference to businesses who subscribe to their services. First of all, why is this kind of sponsored promotion risky? Secondly, what are a few other business directories that are particularly useful for contractors?

Truthfully, most good directories are ones you have to pay for. The directories are running a business as well and need to make money. Unfortunately, some directories will organize a list of vendors based on how much a company pays.

RenovationFind.com always organizes listings in the order of their rating. Companies cannot pay more to get to the top of the list, they have to strive to achieve a hirer accreditation rating. We do offer banner advertising to companies who pay for it on different areas of the website, but they definitely cannot pay more to get to the top of the listing.

There’s a lot to keep up with, in the construction industry. How might someone looking to hire a contractor identify someone who’s up-to-date and current with the newest technology and techniques?

Look at the company’s website and if they have a company blog. Most companies are now using content marketing through a blog and social media to help educate their customers about the latest innovations within their specific field and industry.

Want to learn more about growing your contractor business? Start a course right away!

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