Several comments in response to my post yesterday got me to thinking about how we use word of mouth or written comments to inform our decisions. Most of us feel we cannot trust advertisements on TV, in the print media and elsewhere, and turn to things like word of mouth, Amazon reviewers and Angie’s list to help us make decisions.
In recent years, I have hired different folks to do different jobs and in the process developed a set of rules I follow for hiring someone:
1/ If I want a repair job done, I solicit bids after I do an Internet search. Based on what I read in the form of self-advertisement and recommendations from previous clients, (I look for individuals or small businesses with a small advertisement budget) I ask the individual to visit my house and give me an estimate of what it would cost to do a job. Most of the time this works well.
For example, a few years ago, we needed the front door molding repaired. After 40 years, it had disintegrated from wood rot. David had partially repaired it, then had a medical emergency which prevented his completing the job. I found a fellow who gave me an estimate for finishing the work, and hired him. David was not pleased with his effort, but while the fellow was here, he overheard me talking to the representative of a fence installation company about repairing my old fence. “I would like to put a bid in on this job” my handyman said. So I asked him what he could do and how much would it be. He sent me photos of the jobs he had done for others in our neighborhood and gave me a few references, and we struck a bargain. He did a wonderful job on the new fence. He completely replaced it for less than the other company would have charged me for a simple repair job.
So, even though David did not like the job Hermie did on the front door, fences were his specialty, and he did a good job. Below is a shot of the fence along the east side of the back yard right after he completed the fence: The moral of this story is sometimes intuition helps choose someone for a job. The other moral is hire someone who knows what he is doing.
2/ Word of mouth. I have used the same tree firm year after year to trim the same trees. I found them because a fellow I use for occasional landscape jobs recommended him. I found the original landscaping company by shopping at a particular nursery year after year. I made the decision to use the nursery based on the attitude of its workers. Originally, the workers were mainly housewives reentering the job market who actually knew something about gardening. Later the company expanded and opened a new site and hired many workers from Latin America. They didn’t speak English too well, but they were friendly with my dogs. Most of them had probably been farmers or agricultural workers in their own countries.
I knew from being a volunteer worker at a local public garden where I lectured school groups, that the children of recent immigrants, particularly from Latin America, understand more about gardening than native born kids who probably watch too much TV. Hispanic kids have often come from agricultural regions in the more remote parts of southern Mexico and Central America where they grow food for home consumption, or like my friend Rose Ann, they are the child of migrant workers from Texas and other southern states.
Farm work is something young people can do well. When I visited the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I noticed most of the folks who served me were youngsters from the rural areas around here (we are a southern state). I imagine many of them are in the FFA (Future Farmers of America). I looked for my granddaughter Joy at the market as a truck from the farm where she works was up for the day, but one of the boys told me she was “working on the farm today.”
3/ The other method for finding help I have used recently was Angie’s List. I found my current house cleaners through this agency, and have been very pleased.
4/ Another source I have used in recent years has been “A Place for Mom.” Although you can find Joan Lunden advertising this service on TV, it is a referral service. Through them, I have been able to contact and visit numerous retirement facilities and lay the ground work for the day when I might need such a service. It might sound nutty, but visiting a retirement home convinces me we are in no way ready for such an experience. I have also learned to distinguish among the different kinds of facilities.
Although the insurance charts suggest David could live to 99 and me to age 93, because he is 12.5 years older than me, I may need a retirement facility some day.
Ageing Research Reviews (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am a planner and I believe in being informed before you have an emergency. I figure none of my children or David’s will take us in and I don’t particularly want them to, so David and I have followed the old Scout maxim, be prepared. David says we could stay in this house forever. I tell him “Eat your veggies.”
So how do you decide which services to buy?