Diamond Certified Blog

Your Kid’s First Car: What Every New Driver Needs to Know


The first lessons of car ownership happen at the dealership. Photo: Toyota Marin (2017)

What’s the perfect accessory to go with a cap and gown? A set of car keys. With graduation season upon us, many young people will be getting their first cars before heading off to college or starting their first jobs. A car allows a young person to experience freedom and independence, but it’s also a serious responsibility. School may be over for your child, but the life lessons are just about to begin. To learn how you can help teach your child to be a responsible car owner, read these tips provided by five Diamond Certified Experts.

How to buy a car
For many young people, an auto dealership may be where the car of their dreams crashes into the reality of their bank accounts. Even if the car is a gift, it’s a good idea to include your child in the purchasing process. Continue reading “Your Kid’s First Car: What Every New Driver Needs to Know” »

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How to Use the Diamond Certified Directory

The Diamond Certified Directory Report Page

The Diamond Certified Directory features report pages for top rated companies throughout the Greater Bay Area. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Last month, we mailed the brand-new 2017 Diamond Certified Directory to more than 810,000 households throughout the San Francisco Bay Area (if you didn’t get your FREE copy, click here). Whether you already rely on the Diamond Certified Directory to find top rated local companies or you’ve never heard of it before, we figured it’s a good time to get (re)acquainted.

Every April, American Ratings Corporation publishes 10 versions of the Diamond Certified Directory, covering all of the Greater Bay Area (including Monterey). Continue reading “How to Use the Diamond Certified Directory” »

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Posted in Consumer News, Consumers, Customer Service, Diamond Certified News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Video: Proper Tree Pruning

Earlier this week, we posted an article featuring expert tips on tree care, including irrigation, disease prevention and maintenance. One of the aspects mentioned was pruning, a crucial maintenance measure that, unfortunately, is often performed improperly. To gain some insight into correct pruning procedure, watch this informative video by Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Laural Roaldson, owner of Laural Landscapes, Inc.

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Diamond Certified Experts: Tree Care 101

From pruning and irrigation to addressing risk factors, tree care involves several crucial aspects. Photo: World Tree Service, Inc. (2017)

Despite being the largest of all plants, trees are surprisingly easy to overlook. Maybe it’s because their serene, stationary disposition causes them to blend in with their surroundings; maybe we just don’t look up often enough. Either way, like any plant, trees require water, nutrition and ongoing maintenance, so it’s important to take care of the ones on your property. To learn about some tree care basics, we’re joined by six Diamond Certified Expert Contributors in the tree service and landscaping fields.

Tree irrigation and nutrition
The first step in caring for a tree is simple: water it. However, as Chris Chapman of Horticultural Services, LTD explains, tree irrigation is something property owners often get wrong. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Tree Care 101” »

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Posted in Diamond Certified Experts, Landscaping Tips | Tags: , , , , , , ,

How to Clean a Window in 3 Steps

To maintain your windows between professional cleanings, you’ll need to know the proper technique. Photo: Smart Window Cleaning (2017)

When it comes to window cleaning, nothing compares to a professional’s touch, but if you ever have to do it yourself, it’s helpful to know the proper technique. First, however, you’ll need the right tools, including a strip washer (sort of like a mop that’s used on windows) and a squeegee. You’ll also need a cleaning solution that repels (rather than attracts) dirt, whether a store-bought product or a homemade mixture of vinegar or ammonia and water.

Once you’ve assembled your tools, follow this simple window cleaning technique as explained by Eric Kennedy, co-owner of Smart Window Cleaning: Continue reading “How to Clean a Window in 3 Steps” »

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Posted in Diamond Certified Experts, Home Tips, Window Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

Let the Sun Shine In: The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Window Washer


Window washing may be a common household task, but a professional’s touch can bring a clear advantage. Photo: Crystal Clear Window Cleaning, LLC (2017)

It’s May, which means the rainy season is finally over and Bay Area residents can look forward to clear, sunny skies for the foreseeable future. However, if your home’s windows are still caked with residue from the winter deluge, you won’t get the full effect of that soul-recharging solar radiance. Before you grab the Windex, consider a better option: hiring a professional window washing company. Here are a few reasons to leave your panes to the pros.

Superior tools and techniques
Window cleaning seems like something anyone can do, but few people actually know how to do it correctly. First, most homeowners lack the right tools, opting for paper towels, rags or newspapers to do the job. In contrast, professional window washers use pole-mounted strip washers and squeegees to clean windows more efficiently and effectively, with no smudges or towel fibers left behind. Plus, the cleaner your windows are, the longer they can go between washings, which means less time spent on maintenance. Continue reading “Let the Sun Shine In: The Benefits of Hiring a Professional Window Washer” »

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Response to the 2017 Diamond Certified Directory

The Diamond Certified Directory features only top rated Bay Area companies. Photo: American Ratings Corporation, 2017

Throughout April, the 2017 Diamond Certified Directory has been arriving in mailboxes all around the Bay Area (if you haven’t received your FREE copy yet, click here), and we’re thrilled with the responses we’ve been getting. Our ratings team spends 100 percent of their time conducting stringent customer satisfaction research to identify companies that qualify for the Diamond Certified award. The Diamond Certified Directory is our opportunity to present these top rated companies to consumers, so we love hearing from people who are using the directory to find new companies to meet their needs. Here are some samples of what we’ve been hearing:

“I engaged Westward Builders this year because I got a reference from you,” says Catherine C. “Great job!” Dean D. called to tell us that “Keech Painting Contractors were very good. They did a great job, they were reasonably priced and we were very happy with them.” Continue reading “Response to the 2017 Diamond Certified Directory” »

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Posted in Consumer Events, Consumer News, Consumers, Diamond Certified News | Tags: , ,

Industry Overview: Moving 101

From packing to unloading and everything in between, moving is a complex and rigorous undertaking. Photo: Advantage Moving & Storage (2017)

In terms of sheer scope, few enterprises are as exhaustive (or exhausting, for that matter) as moving. From the basic tasks of packing and transporting your belongings to more technical aspects like hiring a moving company and getting insurance, there are a lot of bases to cover. To “unpack” some of the complexities involved, we’ve curated the following collection of information, including key terms, helpful tips and answers to frequently asked questions.

Key Moving Terms

Bill of lading: The standard form used by the United States shipping industry to acknowledge that a carrier has received a shipment. The bill supplies a list of goods included in the shipment and specifies the terms of the shipping agreement, which include the transporting vehicle and the shipment’s final destination. It also represents a legal document that’s vital to the pursuit of loss or damage claims from a moving company. Continue reading “Industry Overview: Moving 101” »

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Elder Care: What to Do When a Loved One Needs a Helping Hand

There’s usually a sign. Maybe your mother had a bad fall, forgot to pay her bills or is unable to keep up with her medications. Whatever the reason, nearly all families will come to a point when they realize a loved one can’t fully or safely take care of daily tasks. With the first wave of baby boomers entering their 70s, elder care is a growing need for Bay Area families. Understanding the care options that are available can help families make choices that will bring everyone comfort and peace of mind.

caregiver and patient

The best caregivers will focus on building strong, trusting relationships. Photo: Interim HealthCare of Santa Rosa (2017)

In-Home Care
If your loved one needs some assistance with chores, errands or self-care, in-home care may be the best fit. Crystal Smith, manager of Interim HealthCare of Santa Rosa, says the key to a positive in-home care experience is building a strong relationship between the caregiver and the family. Continue reading “Elder Care: What to Do When a Loved One Needs a Helping Hand” »

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Why Won’t They Call Me Back?

I’m frustrated right now because I’ve been calling several local companies for service and haven’t heard back from any of them. I’m trying to get on a schedule for tree pruning, and I’m also attempting to schedule a furnace cleaning and fireplace inspection. I’ve left four voicemail messages for one of these companies over a two-week period. I’ve persisted because I’m a repeat customer and was satisfied with their services in the past.

There are steps you can take to ensure you get a call back from a busy company.

I understand that small businesses can get overwhelmed with consumer demand. Severe storms like we had this winter mean tree service companies, plumbers, and roofers are working overtime and can’t keep up with all the requests. Continue reading “Why Won’t They Call Me Back?” »

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Posted in Consumers, Personal Stories, Savvy Tips | Tags: , , , , ,