Last Tuesday a major storm went through Cedar Falls. Some areas of town were hit with tennis ball size hail
. Apparently when a storm hits, the out-of-town construction companies follow it.
Those of you who have had hail damage probably already know this.
When an adjustor gets on your roof to locate hail damage, they circle the spots with bright chalk. That makes it pretty easy for roofing companies to drum up leads. As a result of the circles on my roof, I had a guy stop by the house the other night wanting to know if I had chosen a subcontractor yet. He was very polite and told me he "wanted to earn my business." Such a simple phrase, but it really struck a chord with me.
I can't remember the last time someone told me they wanted to "earn my business." Every company earns business, at least initially. The thing that always scares me is once they have my business, will they continue to strive to earn it?
It is very common for my company to meet with potential clients who are not happy with their current website or the programmers working on their IT project. Since they are meeting with us, they obviously are looking for alternatives. However, they are hesitant to work with another firm because they think they will receive similar service.
I'm sure this is common in a lot of industries.
I just met with a potential client yesterday in this very scenario. She spent a lot of money and time on a website that never went live. The site almost went live, but when it came time for her to use the content management system, it became apparent that it would be unusable for her. This company did a great job earning her initial business, but failed on the execution and, consequently, lost the account.
Caveat emptor: "Let the buyer beware." Unless you have a history with the company and are comfortable you know what you're getting into, my recommendation to anyone looking for a website or programmers is to do your due diligence. Make sure the company is going to continue to earn your business before, during and after the project.
How do you do this?
Go to the company's website. Look at the projects they have completed. Do you like the quality of the work?
Ask around. Call the company's existing customers and find out about their experience.
Ask to see demos of a project. If you need the ability to update content on your website, ask the company to give you a demo of the system you would use to update your site.
Take into account all aspects of working with the company, not just the price. Perhaps not universally, but very often in this arena, "you get what you pay for." I have seen a lot of people try to skimp on a project only to have it come back to bite them later. Often, spending a little more will ensure it gets done right the first time.
When you meet with the company, tell them the long-term vision/goals for your site or project. Ask them if and how their solution will be able to accommodate your ongoing needs.
Ask how they will keep you informed during the course of the project. Will you be involved throughout or just when it is complete? Approach any project the same way you would approach remodeling your house. You wouldn't just let a contractor go off and build something without being involved in the decision making process, right? Expect the same from other companies you work with.
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions.