Questions to Ask References Before Hiring Vendors and Subcontractors

Checking references is one of the simplest steps you can take so save yourself time, money, and major headaches down the road. But to get the most out of that phone call to a past client, it’s important to ask the right questions.


What to ask a contractor’s references


Once you’ve narrowed down your pool of potential candidates and invited those vendors or subcontractors to bid on your project, spend some time doing your own additional research. Look up their licenses and insurance information. Then pick up the phone.


Any vendor or subcontractor should willingly share the names and numbers of recent clients. While it’s particularly helpful if the client’s project was similar in nature to yours, other questions about reliability and performance should be applicable no matter the job. Start by asking these questions and add your own as you see fit.


  • Would you hire this vendor again without hesitation? A willingness to rehire a subcontractor is a strong endorsement and a testament to their work. Dig a little deeper to understand why or why not the reference is willing to be a repeat customer.


  • How did their project’s estimate compare to the final price? Cost overruns are a serious threat to a budget. Does the vendor have a history of providing accurate estimates, or are their clients faced with stiffer bills because of issues or delays that affected the cost?


  • Did the subcontractor reliably show up on time? Was the team there when they said they would be and clean up the job site at the end of each day?


  • What was the communication style of the vendor and their crew like? Was it easy to get your questions answered, and did you have a clear understanding of what was going to be done and why? Were the crew members easy to get along with? A general sense of how the vendors and subcontractors interact with clients is important, especially when sometimes difficult decisions about a project need to be made.


  • Were you happy with the results? Did the job meet your overall expectations, and did you feel like the value received matched the money you spent?


Talking to references can give you important insight into a vendor’s character and the quality of their work. Learning as much as you can about a potential hire is important for reducing your risk as you head into a new project.


What other questions have asked references in the past? Let us know!


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