From The Founder
It was April 2005 when it came to me! I know enough local service providers to create a free online resource for local residents to find quality home service providers. Why would I want to bring such a service to my community? Well, I was a perfect consumer for such a service. I have owned many homes over the years, six to be exact. Some houses were new, some were old and one dates back to 1775. I am proud to say that I am very handy. Actually, I have remodeled many of the homes I have owned. Even though I am able to do many home projects I find it necessary to hire contractors from time to time. I have said to my friends and family that I could write a book about my experiences hiring and firing contractors.
I had once hired a contractor to strip and refinish hardwood floors throughout my house. This should have been simple. My wife, Robin and I had recently purchased the home and it was vacant. I stopped by to check on the progress one day to find the guy I hired sleeping in his car in the driveway. Not only was he sleeping on the job but I suspect he was an alcoholic as well. This did not end well for the contractor. I fired him! Now I had to quickly find a replacement for ‘Rip Van Winkle’ to strip down what he had started and then refinish the floors.
In 2002, I embarked on a big kitchen remodel. I was very proud of how my newly remodeled kitchen came out. The house was built in 1963 and needed much updating. My wife and I designed the new
layout and I went to work on the demolition and full remodel of the kitchen. The kitchen remodel project took about 8 weeks from start to finish all while managing a young Black Labrador Retriever and new baby boy.
As part of this remodel, I had hired a contractor through a major brand window company to install a bay window. This was a great new feature to our newly remodeled kitchen. However, the contractor was a nightmare! I came home one day to find the “window expert” in my garage using my power tools to do the job I hired him to do. I flipped out! I asked him why he didn’t use his own tools. He had a less than satisfactory answer. I fired him! He put a mechanics lien on my house. Oh no here we go...!
The window contractor and I settled out of court. I learned some valuable lessons in the early years. When all of this happened there wasn’t a place to find a pre-screened contractor. The Better Business Bureau is only interested in taking money from businesses and does not adequately pre-screen its contractor members. I have found that the B.B.B. is only good for complaining about a business after the fact. I knew if our new company took the time to pre-qualify its contactor members through a vetting process our mutual customer, the homeowner would receive a valuable service.
I was so excited about my new idea to develop a list of outstanding contractors for my local community of Katy Texas. I explained the concept to my wife, we discussed it and she supported me the entire way. Well that was almost 8 years ago. Since then we have signed over 600 contractors to the Check A Pro program that was established in 2005. Our first community was Katy, and then in 2006 we expanded to Sugar Land, then Cy-Fair and The Woodlands in 2008 and then Houston wide in 2009.
We are proud to be the premier resource for Houstonian’s to find pre-qualified home service providers. Here is how we do it –
1. We ask member contractors to recommend other outstanding home service providers.
2. We check the Certificate of Insurance on each member.
3. I personally meet and interview each and every business owner.
4. Our team checks licenses with the state of Texas on each member.
5. We check business and customer references.
We only allow 5 premier companies per category per market. In other words we have only 5 air conditioning repair companies in The Woodlands and 5 plumbers in Katy. The contractor pays a nominal fee to be listed on our website. In many cases we have a waiting list for the top categories. Why am I telling you this? Because I know what you are thinking, If the contractor pays Check A Pro then how is Check A Pro on the side of the homeowner? Good question. First off we have a complaint system built in. If a complaint is made by a consumer on one of our members we follow up with the homeowner and member. The contractor member receives points against them. If the member accumulates too many points they will be removed from the Check A Pro program. Yes, we have kicked out our fair share of “BAD” contractors over the years.
People who know me will tell you that I love what I do. It’s true, I do thoroughly enjoy my place here on earth. I am truly a blessed man to have the opportunity to serve my community and our customers. We actually serve two distinct customers. Our first customer is the homeowner. We are committed to helping the consumer find the right contractor for the project. Check A Pro also serves the member contractor. We take great pride in helping develop their systems, team and overall performance. You see we are not just a lead source for our members; we are here to help develop their business so they can serve the homeowner better. You could say that Check A Pro leads its members as a franchisor would support its franchisees.
People have referred to Check A Pro as another dotcom resource to find contractors. I stop them there! I tell them we are a people company. What does that mean? We treat the residents of our community as humans as we do our contactor members. Our website at www.checkapro.com is only the vehicle for the community to access our pre-qualified members. We have been compared to the B.B.B., Angie’s List and Service Magic. When people ask me, “Aren’t you just like Angie’s List”? I respond by asking them if they have met Angie. The reality is that we were founded in Katy Texas and 8 years later we still only serve the people of the greater Houston area. We know all of our contractor members and we know what the local homeowner wants and needs.
What happens when we have an unhappy homeowner? I get involved. People can log to our website and give praise or complain about our service providers. When someone praises a member it becomes a testimonial that is listed on the member’s profile page. When a complaint is made it is delivered to my desk and I personally contact the homeowner and follow through until the issue is resolved.
This book is more about how and why I started Check A Pro. It is about how you can depend on our team of pre-qualified member contractors to get anything accomplished around your home from air conditioning repair to window replacement. In the following chapters you will find useful information on home improvement by category. These chapters have been written by local home improvement experts, our members.
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Founder and President