There have been quite a few companies marketing in Hawaii, that are claiming to be local or implying it with vague websites. I see them advertising with google ads, craigslist or cold calling. But now its become an issue of concern, some of our new clients have already been ripped off or have expressed concern about it.
SO I have been thinking that maybe TechHui could come up with a "100% Local" badge that local companies can put on their websites? To get the seal, you have to be a techHui member with a local address, be registered for business in Hawaii and have at least 5 local companies as clients. Each company can market this themselves, saying "We are TECHHUI certified as a 100% local company. Remember, if a company doesn't have the seal, they do not meet the requirements of being a local company in good standing." Something like that.
Here is why I think its important. We recently were bidding on a job that we lost to another company. That doesn't bother me, I am a good sport and if a client feels another company is better suited for the job that is cool with me. However I happen to know this company specifically wanted a local company. They told us who they chose and at first look I assumed they were just a new company because there are new ones springing up everyday. Several weeks later I was hearing clients tell me they were getting cold calls from this same company who was trying to sell them their services, I even received a call myself. Then the Kailua Chamber asked me about them as well because some members had been receiving calls. So I looked into them and found that they are in fact not a local company. The address they showed on their site is a well know office building downtown that I happen to know someone who leases there. And when I called to see if they really had an office there I found out they don't. The are not registered in Hawaii and the person cold calling is a local sales guy. The site shows 5 clients all mainland clients and the only 1 Hawaii client, the website doesn't appear to exist. No last names on the people who work there, not history....just really vague.
That is awkward for us because we want to warn the company but since we lost the bid, it would just make us look like soar sports. At the same time I think its wrong that they sold themselves as local to get the job.
As someone who gets probably 40% of their clientele from people who have been burned by other companies I have become really skeptical and very annoyed with anyone who appears to be falsely representing themselves. I sit on several boards that supports local commerce and I hate seeing small businesses and non profits getting ripped off or mislead. Especially from companies who aren't from here.
I am a big supporter of buying local, we all work hard to establish ourselves here and support our community. Anyone trying to come in here and take work from local businesses, at the very least, should be doing so honestly. So I think its important that as professionals we should think about coming up with a way to protect our market and our businesses from encroaching companies.
I think there is an aspect here we are missing. I see the benefits to a "certificate" but that "certificate" is only as good as its publication. Would a simpler method be, educating buyers about the need to and how to verify a company. (A certificate or badge program would have to have a similar education effort to make it effective)
As a routine part of business, we pulled Secretary of State filings (when I was not in HI) to validate that the entity we put in our contracts/NDA/etc was the appropriate entity. (A company offering credit to its francheses, for example John Deere, does the same thing to ensure that have legal grounds if a lawsuit results). I always verify the contact information of a vendor or a customer with a site visit. A list of things to verify (as Daniela did) as part of basic research on a prospective vendor, seems like an easy things TechHui can provide the community.
No offense to anybody that *exclusively* works with local vendors.....
But I have very stringent guidelines with the projects that come out of my budget, and it all comes down to who has the best plan to deliver the goods.
If my vendor is local, great....but competency trumps location every time. Phony companies are bad for everyone, but being busy does not give the client the right to feel ripped off, if they didn't do their due diligence.