By Mark Brower | February 3rd, 2015

Today we are talking about how to choose a vendor the way professional property managers do. As a landlord, if you only have two or three rental homes, it’s not every day you’re going to be changing out a water heater or having an air conditioning unit replaced. In many cases, you don’t have relationships in place with vendors you need to do the work. You can research online what something should cost, but you need to work with the right vendor who will treat you fairly. You might not be a repeat customer for 5 or 10 years.

Referral Relationships

One thing that has always worked well for us is to find the vendor through a referral source that’s important to that vendor. For example, if you need an appliance repaired, call the appliance company and ask for the names of two or three repair companies they recommend. Then, when you call the repair company, you can say that the appliance company referred you to them as one of their trusted repair vendors. This allows you to establish accountability through the referral source. They will treat you a little differently than they treat other customers because they don’t want you to call the appliance company back with a report of bad service. You’ll have the leverage a professional property manager has with repeat business based on this referral relationship.

Online Reviews

You should always read reviews online. This can be tricky because a lot of businesses hire marketing companies to write bogus reviews, or they have their friends and family members write glowing online reviews for them. Take a look at the reviewers and see what other reviews they have left. If they have reviewed only this one company, you should probably discount what they’ve said. Look for reviewers who have also reviewed 10 or 20 other companies on Yelp and Google, and who don’t always give five star ratings.

Online Research

Finally, it’s important to do some research online. You want to know your repair costs and have an idea of what materials and labor will cost. It’s normal to have a little markup on materials when you’re dealing with a repair company, but don’t accept anything higher than around 20 percent. A markup that’s 300 percent is not appropriate.

Hopefully these tips will help you ensure you’re being treated fairly and getting quality work for a good price. If you have any questions about finding vendors, or you need any help, please contact us at Mark Brower Properties.