Your local home show is a great opportunity to shop and gather ideas for home improvement projects, but it is important to attend the show with a plan in mind. “Your home is likely your most valuable asset, so educating yourself about the process of hiring a contractor is an important step before you begin any home improvement project,” says Tom Stephens, president of BBB Serving Northeast Florida & The Southeast Atlantic. “After last year's home show, we saw a situation where an unlicensed contractor devastated numerous families, BBB wants to make sure you hire someone you can trust.”
Before you head out to a home show, BBB offers these tips:
• Research first-Check out the show website in advance and locate appealing vendors. Understand the layout and research companies online at bbb.org. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints.
• Shop around- Collect information, network and ask questions. Engage with booth owners, get specifics on pricing and understand company policies. Before signing up for drawings, contests or services, find out how your contact information will be used and carefully review privacy policies. Beware: direct mail, email offers and telemarketing phone calls may increase. Some consumers create email addresses specifically for trade show correspondence. Make sure you aren’t authorizing your information to be sold to third-party marketers.
• Stay on budget- Avoid impulse spending and stick with goals. Steer clear of high-pressure sales tactics. Do not feel pressured to buy expensive items or services right away, as returns and refunds can be challenging. Save receipts and other purchase paperwork. If searching for specific businesses or products, come prepared with clear objectives and budgets. Pay for expensive merchandise with credit cards; monitor accounts in case unauthorized charges need to be contested.
• Check licensing- Before hiring a contractor, check to see that they are properly licensed with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, have required liability insurance, business licenses and bonds.
For BBB’s complete tips on hiring the right licensed professional for the job click here.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Northeast Florida & The Southeast Atlantic was founded in 1987 and serves 57 counties.