Most of us get our recommendations from the internet. What’s the best summer read? Which kind of mattress is best for your back? Where’s the best place to go for a quiet vacation? Who needs a personal recommendation when the recommendation of thousands of strangers are right there at your fingertips? While they may seem old fashioned or out of date, the truth is that a live recommendation from a local is often the most valuable one, especially in certain areas.
Good contractors are notoriously difficult to find. Whether you’re looking for a roofer or a spray foam contractor, finding one who will get the job done in a timely fashion and within budget is almost impossible. Any contractors with halfway decent online reviews is probably booked through next year, meanwhile, all the contractors who are available will do shoddy work for twice the budget in twice the time. What you need is a local gem, someone less well known but known to be reliable. Ask around your neighborhood for who to call and who to avoid.
Schools are another area where you really want inside information. Statistics and test scores can give you a rough idea, but it’s really hard to capture the spirit of a place in numbers. Make sure to talk to a student or a parent of a student, and make sure that your information is up to date. Schools can change a lot in even just a few years.
Restaurant reviews are a business in and of themselves. They tell you a lot about the food and the prices, but they won’t tell you much about who’s there. When looking for the best place to hang out in your area, you have to ask around your area.
So don’t immediately dismiss the idea of asking for recommendations, especially from locals. It may be old-fashioned, but oftentimes it’s most reliable.