Your dishwasher is leaking, or maybe your refrigerator is buzzing, or possibly your oven is overheating. You need help, but aren’t sure who to call. Navigating the world of repairmen can be risky business. From inexperienced to overpriced, it’s hard to find reliable, quality service at a fair, if not affordable, price. Where do you even start?
Well, a good first step is always to ask friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues for referrals. This tactic also works nicely to weed out the bad seeds, because folks will just as eagerly tell you who not to hire. If you get the same recommendation from at least two trusted sources, you know you’re pretty good to go.
Don’t just hire someone based on a flier or discount ad. A repairman who advertises by those methods may be trying to make up for the fact that they don’t get many repeat customers. And that’s not a good sign. Other outlets to consider with caution are postings on Craigslist, on supermarket bulletin boards, and in the classified section. Again, if a handyman needs much more than word-of-mouth marketing to fill his days, then he’s likely inexperienced, unreliable, overpriced, or not very good.
In lieu of a personal reference from someone you know, take to the Internet and do some research. Community review websites such as Yelp and CitySearch are fantastic tools to help you identify potential service providers and get first-hand accounts from their customers.
Another website, Kudzu.com, is actually in partnership with HGTV in order to provide people with a deep well of home-centric resources from which to draw. The Kudzu creators spell it out for you: “our site conveniently connects neighbors so that they can help each other make important, high consideration decisions for their home.”
If, for some reason, you can’t ask friends or search the web, you can always use the tried-and-true methods of contacting the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Ask them for a list of dependable repairmen and you should be set.
In any of these instances, to double down on your research, you can also ask the potential hire for a list of client references and do your own due diligence by contacting those previous clients yourself. However, chances are that the service provider is only going to give you the names and numbers of customers they know were pleased.
In addition to positive references, there are a few other signposts to watch out for while surveying your possibilities. Make sure the repairman is licensed and insured by the appropriate agencies. This gives you not only reassurance, but a path to remedy and relief should things go very badly. Also, get a written estimate for the needed repairs. Again, this is good on two fronts. Firstly, it helps you know what you’re in for financially; secondly, it indicates an appropriate level of professionalism on the part of the service provider.
At the end of the day, any handyman worth his salt will have a good reputation in the community. He knows that this is his bread and butter, and he will do his darnedest to keep it in tact. Don’t be intimidated or harassed by anyone. If a repairman attempts either, send them packing and find someone else.