Earlier this week, I found myself getting completely frustrated by a Facebook “friend” trying to back up a political opinion with some pretty suspicious “facts.” This person claimed all the sources were legitimate. But when I checked them out and dug a little, they were all sketchy. Then I compared them to my own independent research, and there was no doubt. Fake news.
Yes, I know, as you’re reading this you’re thinking – “Hey Jim, don’t take stuff on Facebook so seriously.” I get it.
But like it or not, people get most of their news and information online these days. I consider myself pretty smart, and even I have to look and think twice before believing what I read. It’s gotten hard to tell the difference between trustworthy, factual information and the rest of the trash.
So it got me thinking about the decisions you make every day about spending your money on products and services – like hiring a contractor. Let’s say you decide to hire a plantscaper, such as Good Earth Plant Company, for interior and exterior Plantscaping. You want to base your decision on facts, not sketchy claims from people who are only interested in your money.
But how do you tell the difference? How do you know you’re hiring the right company to do the work you want at the right price? What do you need to know? What questions do you need to ask?
Let me go back to the example I know the best. Hiring a professional interiorscaper is like hiring any creative design professional, with one significant exception: this is an ongoing professional relationship. We plan to take care of your plants and maintain their condition forever. You want to work with a company with exceptional qualifications and training able to deliver quality customer service.
So when you visit someone’s website or look at their social media, here’s what you need to look for:
Visit the About Us page first. This isn’t a business you learn overnight. The more experienced, the better. This is true for nearly anyone providing a service. How long have they been in business? What is their experience? What credentials and training do they have?
Look for specific industry certifications. Our industry includes the Certified Landscape Professional – Interior designation from the National Association of Landscape Professionals, and the Green Earth – Green Plants Certified Business designation. Yes, we’ve got these. At the highest level, plantscapers will also have a contractor’s license, and may be LEED AP or WELL Building Standard qualified also.
Seeing is believing. Good Earth Plant Company is proud of our work and we love to share it with people. You should be able to review any contractor’s current work and see the scale and creativity of the company’s projects. Would you be proud to have the same kind of interiorscaping in your workplace or home?
Does the company website help educate the consumer? “Sharing is caring.” A professional in any field who’s passionate about what they do will take time to share their knowledge and experience with readers. It doesn’t matter whether they ever become customers. Providing valuable content is part of their DNA.
We put a lot of time and effort into our weekly blog – we’ve published hundreds of articles. Some are meant to be helpful. Our fungus gnats advice and our plants for people with allergies post are all-time favorites. Others are just meant to be something fun or funny in your day. We are confident that if you’re a well-informed consumer and know the facts about the benefits of plants, the principles of biophilic design and the WELL Building Standard, you will contact us when you need us.
Are they active in their professional community? Good Earth Plant Company participates in national professional trade organizations such as Green Plants for Green Buildings, American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects, International Interior Design Association, Urban Land Institute, US Green Building Council, and local horticulture associations. Why do I give up my time going to conferences, giving Lunch and Learn talks (for free!), and volunteering? Because it shows I’m keeping up with the latest trends, technology, and best practices.
Are they willing to provide professional references? Pretty pictures on a website are a good start, but they aren’t enough. What do current clients tell you about a contractor? How are the employees to work with? Do they do a good job and how is their customer service?
Here’s a little bit of extra help. The website FactCheck.org has put together a graphic to help you assess whether you’re being fooled by Fake News online. We’re passing it on to you as a public service. When you see Facebook fakery or anywhere else, ask some hard questions and check those sources! It’s our job to help stop this stuff from spreading. It should become as routine as washing your hands.
Notice that we provide links to ALL our sources. And if anything is a joke we will make it OBVIOUS.
FACT: There’s never a bad time to bring nature inside your home or office to improve your surroundings, reduce stress and increase your productivity and well being. Select the right interior plantscaper and you can enjoy all these benefits and more. Email me at Good Earth Plant Company if you’d like to get started: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS – if you can find and reach a REAL person who’s even willing to give out their personal contact information, this is also a good sign you’re not anywhere near Fake News!