Choosing a Fence Contractor
There are quite a few fence contractors ready to install your fence in your area, but how do you know which one is right for you? Of course, you want a quality product at a fair price, and you want it installed in a timely fashion; but is there more you should be considering?
Figure Out Your Needs
What type of fence do you want?
Do you want vinyl, ornamental, chain link, wood or something custom? Not all fence companies have the inventory or capability to install all of these options. Many specialize in one or a couple different styles. By knowing what style of fence you would like installed, you will be able to narrow down your list of fence contractors.
What is your time frame?
You will need to be realistic with your expected time frame. The best contractors are also those who have the longest lead times. It is common for fence contractors in the Midwest to be 4-8 weeks out from time of sale to beginning of installation. So, how long can you reasonably wait? Is there anything happening that may be driving the process, like a wedding or a new puppy? If not, adjust your time frames out.
What is your budget?
Not all fence companies will give you the same price for what may appear to you to be the same fence. Does it mean the high-priced contractors are overcharging or taking advantage of you? Not necessarily. Larger and more reputable companies generally have high overhead and operational costs. However, these same companies often provide more customer service and can be relied on under warranty or repair situations. They have full time sales and project management staff to answer your call and field your questions in a timely fashion.
How important is safety during fence installation?
Is it a priority for your fence company to only allow OSHA-standards trained and practicing employees in your backyard? Do you want installers that are wearing personal protective equipment or cut-off jean shorts while operating power equipment? Will they place cones and wheel chokes around their vehicles or simply park in the street with little concern for safety?
Are you considering financing?
Some fence companies have an arrangement with financial institutions to provide 12 months same as cash or other favorable financial arrangements.
Do you want a proof of insurance?
People typically only think to ask about insurance after something catastrophic has happened. Is it important to you that your fence company provide proof of general liability, workers compensation, and auto insurance? If something happens in your backyard and your contractor is not covered, the injured party may seek coverage from your homeowner’s policy.
Does it matter if your fence contractor subs-out the labor?
It may be important to you that the contractor you hire is the contractor that performs the work. You selected them for their reputation and service, and expect that continuity through the installation process.
Once you have successfully answered all of these questions, it is time to begin your search for your fence company.
Selecting Your Fence Contractor
1) Check Google
Go to Google and search for “fence contractor near me” or “[your city] fence company.” These relevant search terms will generate a complete list of the fence companies in your area. Larger and more reputable fence companies will typically appear at the top of the page while the smaller companies will fall on the next couple pages.
2) Fence Company Websites
Visit your local fence companies’ websites. It is always good idea to read about their company, about their financing options, years of service, and their location. Then you should head on over to their photo galleries. This is where you will find their true capability in their type and quality of work. Look for the type and style of fence you would like in your backyard. Once you find it, save it so when you request a quote you can share it to ensure you get the fence you are looking for.
3) Return to Google
Type in the names of the fence contractors you are interested in. Check out their reviews across a variety of platforms. Past customers, employees and associates use review services to freely share their experience working with the contractor. If a contractor has few to no reviews, you should be cautious. It most likely does not mean they provide impeccable service and materials. It may mean that they are new to the industry and have a short list of customers. Look for fence companies with a solid list of reviews. Don’t worry if not all these reviews are 5 stars, as long as they have a solid cumulative review. Successful fence contractors are in high demand. With such demand, they will occasionally drop the ball. What matters is if they responded to the customer and resolved the situation.
4) Take a Drive
Once you have narrowed down your list of fence contractors, It is time to check out your fence company’s physical location. If they have a nice, well organized facility, they will most likely treat your home in the same manner. If you find materials scattered and vehicles run down, be wary. If their headquarters is someone’s house, please understand you are looking at a contractor with little invested in their business or someone who is just getting started.
5) Experience Matters
No matter the material or style, your fence will inevitably need assistance at some point. Any business can survive for a period of time while they live from one customer’s deposit to the next. One hiccup in their operations or a really long winter, that fence company could be gone overnight. Look for a fence company with 20, 30 or even 50 years in business. That level of tenure should give you confidence that they will be around to warranty your project.
6) Customer Engagement
Now that you may have further narrowed your list of potential fence companies, it’s time to make a few phone calls and set some appointments for estimates. These fence contractors should be excited about coming out to your property to meet you and review your project. Be cautious of those that simply want your information over the phone and in order to send you a quote. They are not customer centered and may be too busy for your project. Look for that fence contractor that chooses to proactively engage their customers. Select only those fence contractors that want to show up to meet you.
Now that you’ve met your fence contractor candidates, you should ask yourself: How professional did they appear? Was your sales representative dressed appropriately, act polite and answer all your questions? Were they engaging in asking you questions about your needs and priorities? Take a hard look at the proposals. Which proposals provide detailed information, material specifications, drawings, dimensioned layouts, pricing options, and terms and conditions? If the experience does not start with a high level of professionalism and communication, it will definitely not get better.
8) Fence Price
Of course, price matters. Most customers can share an experience where they really liked one fence contractor but their price was too high, so they begrudgingly went with the low bid. Never ask a fence company to price match or share competitive bids in an effort to get a better number. This would be inappropriate. However, communicate with your contractors before making a decision. Thank them for their time and notify them they are not the low bid.
If you follow these tips and steps, you’ll certainly be on your way to getting the fence of your dreams from the right fence contractor.