The Purpose of Five Star Rated Consumers Guidebook
Finding Reputable Companies and Saving Homeowners Time and Money:
Homeowners should not depend solely on yellow pages type advertising or internet searches for selecting companies who provide home services or project related needs. Any business can buy advertising space or internet search positions to “sell you” on their company. Any business can say they are the best in an advertisement, but most don’t measure up to this claim. Thousands of direct mail offers received by homeowners everyday (including coupon offers) are also not an indication of the quality of a company.
Five Star Rated saves Homeowners time by conducting thousands of due diligence home contractor surveys and homeowner interviews.
Only home services companies that “earn” a Five Star Rating through exceptional service and work performance over time make it into Five Star Rated.
Another factor to keep in mind: Some big home retail stores may have contractors do ‘sub-contracting’ work for sales or promotions in their stores, but much of the time, this work is done by ‘sub-contractors’, not necessarily an internal contracting workforce.
Five Star Rated will not exceed more than 5 given contractors by ‘trade category’, so you, the homeowner, benefit from a stringent selection process.
Contractors and other home services companies participation in Five Star Rated is voluntary. If an approved contractor/company passes our stringent guidelines for inclusion, the owner does pay a fee for publication and circulation of their Five Star rating.
Five Star Rated Methodology & Company Selection Criteria:
Five Star Rated operates as an independent research company and reviews hundreds of contractors businesses and their capabilities through homeowner surveys, interviews and written homeowner statements and letters. Our approach to researching companies is ‘multi-pronged’.
We combine the methodologies used by other research companies, our own in-depth due diligence of customer databanks and files, written customer statements and letters, random phone surveys, selected interviews (when necessary or appropriate) with local consumer awareness groups such as the Better Business Bureau, state consumer affairs departments, state contractor licensing bodies and so on. We also run a ‘company background report’ using The Smart Business Reports by Experian on every company in our book.
This ‘methodology process’ allows us to convey impartial third party opinions. Once we finish our due diligence and review process, the companies that make the grade (5 Star Rating) are given the option to participate in our Five Star Program. The contractors that are selected, and agree to participate in this publication, are given the Five Star Rating.
The Five Star Rating is based on a Multiple Step Selection Process:
(1) Company Background checks using The Smart Business Reports by Experian: Five Star Rated generates an Experian report on every company candidate within our pool of candidates by service category. Five Star Rated staff is looking for basic, but critical company information, including, but not limited to (a) Ownership-Management history, (b) any bankruptcy history, (c) potential liens or judgments history (d) applicable company registrations and/or filings, (g) Licensing, etc. If the Five Star Rated staff finds any ‘red flags’ on this initial company background reporting, the candidate is no longer considered for the 2nd step in rating a company.
(2) Better Business Bureau company reliability reports on any complaint histories (if any): If a company has too many complaints relative to their specific service category’s traditional complaint history (relative to revenue levels), then the candidate may not progress further in our process. The only way that a company with a number of complaints moves forward in our process at this point is if they have a stellar record of resolving and handling a few complaints in a timely and fair manner. Even then, if the complaint numbers are too high relative to other “like sized” companies within their business category, these candidates may not make it to the next step in our process for qualification and selection.
(3) State Corporation Commission search: We want to make sure all companies selected have a current active and ‘in compliance’ record. The SCC search also provides us with records of “longevity” of the business (not relying on what owners may claim). The SCC search many times also indicates other key officers or principals involved in the business.
(4) The Manta Business Report: Five Star Rated will check the Manta Report to confirm that certain companies do in fact trade in the service categories that they claim to trade in (practice). What’s more, the Manta Report will provide information regarding number of employees for the company, it’s revenue size (annual work load) and years in business.
(5) Experian Credit Report: Each potential candidate must pass the credit report test. Good credit indicates company stability and trustworthiness.
(6) Recommendations from “non-competing” contractors: Business owners are typically very reluctant to refer homeowners to other companies not in their category. If a business owner ‘recommends’ a non-competing contractor to Five Star Rated staff, this referral is taken and considered very seriously by Five Star Rated staff as a valid endorsement.
(7) Homeowner Surveys: Five Star Rated staff interviews thousands of homeowners every year for specific companies and specific trades. Most reviews are based on work performed during the last two year period or most recent two year period from the date of ‘due diligence report’ completion. We also review thousands of customer satisfaction letters sent to our candidates.
The Five Star Rated homeowner survey is designed to provide information that will indicate the following: (a) Quality of craftmanship or work, (b) Courtesy of employees, (c) The Cost/Benefit received or value for the price paid, (d) Time and Completion of work: Was the work completed on a reasonably agreed upon time that both parties agreed to at the point of proposal acceptance? (e) Clean up and grooming: Were the employees well groomed and did they cleanup after the work is completed each day? (f) Overall grade: Based on the overall work completed, at what level would you recommend this company to friends, family and worker associates?
The Value of Referrals
During Homeowner Surveys, our survey staff asks the following final question: “Are there any companies that have done work around your home that you would highly recommend to others”? This “Referral” question provides us with thousands of comments about newly found potential candidates. Some companies may continue to show up on the radar in a positive way and therefore become a potential candidate for review for future publications. The Five Star Rated staff dedicates months and years of professional time in gathering, collecting and analyzing the information and select companies in this consumer guidebook for the benefit of the recipients. This Guidebook helps to relieve the stress and time of trying to find stellar companies.
Five Star Program Covenant Agreement
All Five Star Rated companies selected to participate in this consumers guidebook, must agree to the following covenant agreement in our contract with the company.
“Selected as a Five Star Rated participant, we promise to deliver the best quality work available to our homeowner customers. We realize we have earned the Five Star Rated rating based on our excellence and performance with customers over the last five years, and have not paid for that recognition earned. We promise to treat our customers with the upmost respect and integrity. As a Five Star rated company we promise to always carry necessary and required business insurances (including liability insurance) and workers’ compensation or alternative insurance, and appropriate business and professional trade licenses (when applicable). Our covenant with the homeowner customer on a go-forward basis will be to continue to deliver the highest quality of service and workmanship available on the market today”.
Note: All companies and home services contractors are required to sign the Five Star Rated Covenant Agreement before inclusion in the Review Guidebook.
Making your “Testimonial” contribution to Five Star Rated:
As a homeowner, you can submit your personal experiences or testimonials (positive or negative) to Five Star Rated as part of our ‘databank’ of customer input. In order for your input to qualify, the service work performed by any company or contractor (whether listed in this guidebook or not), must have been performed or completed during the last two years. The reason for this policy is that we have found that sometimes a company’s ownership may change hands now and then, and when this happens the performance levels can change with the change in ownership. This can be a positive or negative change depending on the degree of professionalism and care implemented by incoming new ownership or the lack thereof in the following months and years. You can submit your comments and input online, by FAX, or mailed letter to:
Five Star Rated
PO BOX 2785
Kennesaw, GA 30156