My response on an industry forum:
Licensing will only work with tough enforcement and more than a smack on the wrist for violation. That's where the issues arise. A crooked business owner is going to weigh his averages.
Here are the facts:
• A company is breaking a federal law to send water down storm drains. Thousands of companies do it everyday and will continue to do so. The fine is steep but again it doesn't stop a person that doesn't care and figures he will slip through the cracks.
• You risk a raid by the DOL and INS if you if you hire illegal aliens. I read an article that mentioned a number of 15 million ilegals working in the US every day. Wow! Here is an old article about Walmart hiring cleaning contractors that employed ilegals: Wal-Mart Raids by U.S. Aimed at Illegal Immigrants STEVEN GREENHOUSE / NY Times 24oct03
Scan the article and take notice of this: "This is the result of almost a four-year
investigation. We're a law enforcement agency, and we're going to enforce the laws."
Four years? More proof that our government is not the most efficient machine in the world. Here was a large scale operation that probably cost taxpayers hunreds of millions of dollars. Is it unrealistic to think the government can make a dent in this epidemic? They certainly aren't going to waste resources tracking down small companies that hire ten illegals to cut grass or pressure wash residences.
Again, I am on the fence with the issue. I look at PW licensing in the same vein as gun control. The only people that comply are the honest ones. Without enforcement the end result could very well be that we get what we wish for and add more operational expense. This just makes it harder for us to compete with companies that ignore silly little federal laws like the Clean Water Act (CWA) and The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). Those guys will now laugh their way into the hearts of the homeowner because they now have even less overhead and can continuously undercut a legitimately operating company.
I am more with Jim on this and favor certification. (Jim, mark your calendar) I understand what the goal of everyone that strongly favors licensing. I believe there is a different route to take than letting the government have another finger in our business. I think we all agree that the government can pass laws. I think we can also agree that the government cannot enforce those laws with diligence.
So what can be done?
Food for thought. Licensing does not mean a company is qualified to perform the work they sell. Lets face facts. Guys have been writing "licensed and insured" on their trucks and print materials for decades.
Do you know how many homeowners ask me if I have a license to operate or ask to see my insurance certificates? Almost zero. Yet, there are a million articles/check lists out there that tell consumers what to look for before hiring a contractor and one of them is always to check license and insurance. Why does no one do that? (PS: PA requires no state licensing but I spend nearly $700 per year on municipality/city licenses) This makes every license I have to operate nothing more than a tax.
A national agenda can be undertaken to combat this situation via a marketing campaign.
Huh? Let me explain. Whenever a person has a problem, you first get to the core of it. Why do we want licensing? My answer: Because I want to ebb the tide of hacks that undercharge and vandalize properties. I think that's what we are discussing right?
I tend to go by real world business models.
not really working. Many states already require PW'ing companies to be licensed. Has it changed anything in your area?
Telling people to ask for insurance certs and licensing:
not really working.
Here's a whopper: Check to see if the BBB (Better Business Bureau) has given the company a good rating. Well blow me down, people do this every day by the millions. Your feelings about the BBB as a business owner are irrelevant. People think the BBB is a government watchdog agency. They trust the BBB. Why? Because the BBB has marketed themsleves that way. Period.
I'm going to stop there as I have ideas that I am not ready to expose that I think will accomplish more in one maneuver than we could spend the next five years discussing the merits of licensing.