There are a few different types of garage door companies out there.  There are huge national companies, large local companies operating dozens of service and installation trucks each day, smaller local companies operating just a few, and individual owner/operators.

When it comes down to it, what really matters is the experience and attitude of the guy who comes out to fix your garage.


Big National Garage Door Companies

There are a handful of major, nationwide garage door companies.

In my experience, these companies tend to use hardcore upselling tactics and have employees who are trained to be sales people above all else.  You are likely to encounter an inexperienced technician who was hired for his sales ability.  His goal is to sell you a bunch of unnecessary stuff, and his pay may be 100% commission based.

There are other national companies that specialize in commercial work and aren’t especially interested in dealing with residential repairs.

Unless you live in a location without many options, I wouldn’t use this type of door company.  You are likely to find better service and pricing from a local company.


Big Local Companies

Many large metropolitan areas have one or two large local garage door companies.  These could actually be the biggest companies in your area with dozens of trucks on the road every day.

This is worth investigating, you may find a really great company with hard to beat pricing and service, and experienced technicians.  This was at some point a smaller company that really did things right.


Medium Sized Local Companies

Most cities have multiple, or even dozens, of local “mom and pop” type garage door companies that employ 10 or fewer technicians/installers and have a few trucks on the road every day.  You could find a really good company in this mix, but there are some unbelievably bad ones, too.  It is important to check reviews and ask questions on the phone while booking your call, and trust your gut.  If they are reluctant to explain pricing or warranties, move on.


One man owner/operator

This is another one that could be great, or could be incompetent or unreliable.  Make sure that you have found someone who seems to advertise professionally, has a website, drives an appropriate vehicle (not a minivan), etc.  There are a lot of expert garage door guys who do very well as a solo operation.  The most likely problem here is reliability, so make sure you trust that the guy you talk to on the phone will actually show up, and be sure that they are appropriately licensed.

One big advantage here is that you are likely to be talking to the owner of the company on the phone.  If he is an honest guy, he can do a better job working with you and answering detailed questions.  With bigger companies you are probably going to be talking to an office person who doesn’t really know that much about the specifics.

There is also far less chance for miscommunication, assuming you are talking to a guy who is reliable.  Like in many service businesses, office miscommunication causes the majority of misunderstandings and bad experiences.


Note:  Whenever you choose one of the medium to large door companies, you are going to be talking to a receptionist/call booker on the phone.  This person probably doesn’t know much about garage doors.  You should be able to get basic pricing for common, standard services, but do not expect accurate answers to detailed questions.  This person may also be paid in part by how many calls they book, which can lead to over-promising.  Or it could be a call center in another state.  If you will be extremely frustrated if the technician and office don’t seem to be on the same page, try to find a competent owner/operator type company.

Also, don’t be surprised if it goes to voicemail when you call an owner/operator.  But if it isn’t a professional, friendly sounding message, hang up and try someone else, there are good guys out there.


Hiring a Garage Door Company

This will give you the best odds of finding a good company that has competitive prices:

  1. Determine what your needs are. A lot of people aren’t sure if they should repair or replace their garage door and/or opener. This is usually because they don’t know how much either should cost.  Consult the pricing guide in Part 7 to find out.
  2. If you don’t know what is wrong with your door, troubleshoot it.
  3. Figure out what kind of company you want to deal with. Pros and cons are explained above.
  4. Ask the following questions when you are scheduling your service


The Right Questions and Answers

Make sure you ask the following questions.  It is important that you troubleshoot your door so that you have an idea what to ask.

  • What is your service charge?
  • What does the service charge include?
  • How much do the needed parts cost, including installation? Assuming that this is all that needs to be done, what would the total be?
  • Do you charge for disposal?
  • How long do you warranty your labor? It should be at least a year.  But, the amount of time isn’t really the important thing — you need to hear an answer that leaves you confident that this company or person backs up their work.  Don’t hire anybody that sounds defensive or worried about labor warranties.
  • How long are the springs warrantied for? Make sure that it is at least a year, any company that doesn’t want to warranty their springs at all probably has a habit of putting the wrong springs on their customer’s doors. Cheap springs may only have a one-year warranty, or possibly none at all.  Most good companies offer a 3 to 10 year warranty, prices will vary.  Some companies offer lifetime warranties, but they often aren’t what they seem, be sure to read the fine print.


When the Technician Arrives

There are two things you can do so that your technician doesn’t immediately start thinking about ways to raise his price:

The first is to have the garage clear.  At minimum, the entire length along the inside of the door should be clear so that there is room for a ladder. Pay special attention to the corners of the door, and under the opener so that it can be accessed for adjustments.

Second, be able to accurately describe the problem you are having with the door and demonstrate that you have done some research.

Hopefully, you have chosen wisely and your technician arrives in a professional looking vehicle and is friendly.  He should inspect the door, confirm what the problem is, then give you a price before he starts working.

You have the knowledge to tell if he is trying to rip you off.  It’s fine to politely ask that he check with you before replacing any other parts that haven’t been discussed.  If you have any coupons, you should present them immediately after agreeing on a price, but before he starts working.


Inspect the Job

After a repair or new installation is complete, you should inspect the operation of the door by first running it by hand.  With the door on the ground, disconnect it from the garage door opener and gently lift it.

The garage door should be light, and easy to lift AND close with one hand.  It should stay open when pushed to the top.  And it should not ride up off the ground on its own.  Make sure that it runs all the way to the ground without binding.  It is common for the track or top fixtures to be set too tight, causing binding for the last few inches above the ground.  Lazy technicians often try to hide this by turning up the force settings on the opener so that it will push harder before being triggered to reverse.

Remember, it is critical that your garage door opener respond properly if the door becomes obstructed or bound, so the force settings must be set properly.  This is rule #1 of garage door safety and damage prevention.

Connect to the operator and test the force sensitivity.  Your door should stop and reverse if it encounters an obstruction or excess resistance while closing.  It should also stop and stay in place if it hits something or feels excess resistance while opening.  See my free tutorial called “The #1 Garage Door Tip to Save Homeowners Hundreds of Dollars” for a detailed explanation.

It is shockingly common for garage door technicians to accidentally put the wrong springs on during a repair or new installation.  When this happens, the door will feel either too heavy, or “hot” (flies open on its own).  Lazy hacks cover this up by turning up the opener force sensitivity settings.  Over time this will damage your opener and door, and creates an unsafe situation.  Leaving the force settings set too strong is asking for trouble – one day years from now the door could get hung up on something and the opener will damage it or pull it out of the tracks.