In today’s world, word of mouth travels fast. Many of us rely on reviews we find online when looking to hire someone to do a job for us. We have tools at our disposal such as Google, Facebook, and other companies whose sole focus is helping you find the right business for you to hire. That being said, we (as one of those business who relies on these types of marketing) have a few tips for you (the one doing the hiring).
As a sod contractor, our professional requirements are a little different than that of other trades such as electricians, plumbers, general contractors, etc. While we can’t speak to the ins and outs of other trades, we do have a few insider tips for picking the right sod contractor for your project:
- Occupational License (“Licensed”): Also known as Business Tax. For any trade (even if you aren’t required to have a trade-specific license), the State of Florida requires that you have an occupational license or pay Business Tax. This is done directly through the governing County where your business is registered. Each county’s tax collector’s office should have a search on their website where you can check. A link to Hillsborough County is here: https://hillsborough.county-taxes.com/public
- Ag Bond (“Bonded”): while a sod contractor does not need a professional license per se, they will need an Ag Bond which licenses them to deal in Agricultural Products. Since sod is an agricultural product, it is important that your contractor has been recognized & approved by the State of Florida as a dealer. You should be very skeptical of a sod contractor who is not able to
provide a copy of their Ag Bond. You can check here: https://csapp.800helpfla.com/cspublicapp/businesssearch/businesssearch.aspx
- Insurance (“Insured”): We all know what insurance is – but are you familiar with how important it is that your sod contractor is insured? Their insurance will protect your job against damages to the site itself (whether intentional or accidental) and their employees that will be on site. If your sod contractor weren’t properly insured, that opens you up to liability in the event there were an accident. Don’t be shy – make sure to ask for a Certificate of Insurance & verify the information on it!
- Reviews: When looking to hire someone, we definitely recommend reading reviews that are available; however, it is important to consider a couple things here:
- Many positive reviews may be biased such as those from friends or family members, not necessarily paying customers
- Take negative reviews with a grain of salt – really consider what that person is complaining about. There are some customers (in every line of work) that you can never please – no matter the quality of the work you provide. Some things are out of our control, but we still get blamed for them.
- Past Job History: you don’t want a sod contractor who is used to only working on 4,000 square foot residential lawns to be in charge of supplying and installing 100,000+ square feet of sod for commercial projects. It is important to know the company’s niche. There are great sod companies who specialize in residential lawns, there are great companies that specialize in large commercial projects, but there are few companies who specialize in both.
- Professional assets: does the sod contractor have the equipment, manpower, and ability to complete your job? Is there someone that is ready and able to take your order, answer your questions, or connect you with the appropriate person to handle your call in a timely fashion?
In this day and age, it is easy for companies to “look the part” from a distance, but do they really have what it takes to be legitimate? The bottom line here is: your project (whether that be your residential lawn, or a large commercial project) is an investment, and it is important to use every tool available to you to protect that investment.