Who Do You Trust With Your Home, Auto, Family, & Health?

November 10, 2007

How do you know if your mechanic really changed your oil?  Did they work on your alignment, or just say it was fixed?  I’m not a very car savvy person so those thoughts crossed my mind today as I picked up our Honda from the shop.  Luckily, I’ve found a trustworthy mechanic so I feel comfortable the work was done but it hasn’t always been that way. Whether it’s home repairs, car maintenance, or your own health how do you decide who to trust?

As I mentioned above, we found our auto shop through a quality referral several years ago and have been nothing but pleased with their service ever since.  Any type of home repairs we’ve had done have been via referral as well.  We found plumbers, roofers, drywallers, etc. through recommendations and they’ve all treated us well.  As new parents, we had no idea which pediatrician to choose so we asked around and found one that has worked out great.  In my opinion, finding a quality professional by recommendation from friends, family, or co-workers is the best way to find someone you can trust.

Third Party Ratings
If you can’t get a referral you can look to services that will help you gauge the legitimacy and quality of a professional.  You’ve probably heard of the Better Business Bureau, they review and accredit businesses and help resolve any disputes between the business and their customers.  The way I see it, finding a professional accredited by the Better Business Bureau is a good place to start but you wouldn’t want to stop investigating there.  Although the seal of approval indicates they are a legitimate business and don’t have an overwhelming number of consumer complaints, it doesn’t speak to their expertise or quality of their service.

If a business checks out as legitimate but you can’t get a direct referral you could try a service similar to Angie’s List that features user reviews on around 250 different types of services.  I’ve never used Angie’s List myself but my boss had luck there with a variety of home improvement projects.  You do have to pay to belong, which is probably why I never signed up.  If you know someone that is a member, you could always have them do a search for you.

Interview Service Providers
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few different businesses the next step is to interview them in person or over the phone to get a feel for how they interact with customers and ask them some important questions.   One place I look for questions to ask is a series run by Smart Money magazine called “10 Things Your X Won’t Tell You”, where X is any number of services you might pay for. Some examples are:

Once you’ve spoken with the service provider and feel comfortable trusting them with your home, auto, or health you should start out small.  Don’t have the mechanic do an extensive, expensive job like changing your timing belt.  Instead give them a test run with an oil change.  If things go well after a few small jobs, you’ll feel much better putting a provider on your list to refurbish your kitchen or perform your laser eye surgery. 

Finding someone to trust with your valuable possessions isn’t always easy so get a head start. Go through the research process, you’ll be glad you did when something major goes wrong and you have someone you can trust. What are some other ways you use to find professionals you’re comfortable working with


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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  • Weekend Linkage - November 11, 2007 | The Sun’s Financial Diary | A Personal Finance Blog on Saving and Investing