The old fashioned way, they earned it!
Anyone old enough to remember the John Housman commercial for Smith Barney from 1979, “They make money the old fashion way they earn it” is old enough to remember the pre- digital, pre social media age. I think this same principle applies to reputations; those who earn a good reputation the old fashioned way deserve it. Recently I was doing some due diligence and checking out a potential vendor for one of my projects. One of the steps in the process is checking their references and another is searching social media sites to see what information is our there. Both present challenges in trying to determine what’s real and not real. It would seem that social media as the court of public opinion would be the forum for the most accurate and unvarnished opinions, but that isn’t necessarily true. References provided by a vendor are usually pre- qualified by the vendor to ensure their going to provide positive feedback. Social media has become somewhat distorted as a reference source because you usually get only one perspective and therefore it’s difficult to know the whole story. So here’s my new approach. I ask first time vendor for the following list of references: two or three of their newest installations, a list of established customers that I can select from and two clients that have presented some challenges. This last request raises some concerns from the perspective vendors but provides some great feedback. That they might have a problem with an installation is the real world but finding out how the problem was resolved is valuable information. Quality companies understand that reputations are fragile and constantly work to maintain it.
My goal is to find vendors who got their reputation good or bad the old fashioned way, they earned it.