Ask family, friends, and neighbors for referrals and call local stone/tile suppliers for recommendations.
After you have identified several contractors, schedule appointments for estimates. Most will be free, but confirm in advance.
During your estimate, describe the "look" you'd like to achieve and ask questions.
Evaluate your quotes, request references, and check them. Ask to see examples of other projects recently completed by the contractor.
Request proof of liability and workers'compensation insurance.
Select a contractor you believe is skilled and trustworthy, and with whom you feel comfortable. Make sure everything you and your contractor agree to is included in your contract. Don't sign anything until you understand and agree with all the terms.
Plan your project carefully, then keep the lines of communication open with your contractor throughout the project. Keep a job file of all important documentation.
Ask your contractor to estimate a realistic time frame for the job and plan accordingly.
Arrange for periodic inspections with your contractor to ensure that the work is being performed to achieve the desired end result.