Appendix 2: Miscellaneous Services Checklist

Strategy No. 1: AVOID THE SERVICE COMPLETELY

  skip discretionary services
[personal trainers, masseuses, caterers, auto detailers]

  delay and hire later
[patch it, live without service for now, seek second opinions, shop around for lowest rates]

  replace high-cost services with low-cost products
[hair clippers for barbers, mousetraps for exterminators, software for tax preparers, slipcovers for upholsterers]

  rid myself of products with high service costs
[rent, borrow, or flip instead]

  perform lower skilled services myself
[house cleaning, mowing, painting, pressure washing, leaf removal]

  study higher skilled services and do them myself
[using books, web videos, or software, learn how to rewire light switches, repair leaking toilets, tune bicycles, plan weddings]

STRATEGY NO. 2: AVOID THE SERVICE IN PART

  hire, but do some of the work myself
[grunt work, demo, site preparation, mop-up ]

  hire, but procure materials myself
[lumber, paint, parts, supplies]

  hire advisors only, and do the actual work myself
[tax preparation, landscaping design, redecorating, small lawsuits]

  hire less often
[barbers, masseuses, chiropractors, air duct cleaners]

  hire basic services only
[haircuts but no shampoos, car washes but no detailing, lawn mowing but no edging, upholstery cleaning but no protective coatings]

  practice preventative maintenance
[follow owner’s manual, web-based advice]

STRATEGY NO. 3: RUN BACKGROUND CHECKS

  look for customer feedback

□  my own past experience

□  recommendations

□  internet reviews [AngiesList.com]

□  BBB.org

□  service’s own references

  hold tryouts
[especially for less costly services]

  review samples of service’s work
[portfolios]

  review qualifications

□  time in business

□  trade memberships, certifications, licenses

□  specialization level [match job to it]

□  experience level [match job to it]

  learn the service’s policies

□  contract terms? [warranties, guarantees]

□  who performs the actual work? [owner or helpers]

□  any unusual fees?

  weigh my own time costs
[don’t overdo research for inexpensive services]

STRATEGY NO. 4: FIND LOW RATES

  shop around

□  compare rates on my short list of prospective services

□  ask friends what they pay

□  seek special offers [intro rates, coupons, discounts]

□  seek deal sweeteners [freebies, fee waivers]

□  avoid high overhead operations [new truck fleets, fancy offices, etc.]

  haggle

□  “Can you match your competitor’s rates?”

□  “If I hired you more often, would you charge less?”

□  “I know you pay overhead, but can you get closer to the online rate?”

  if warranted, seek written bids
[only for most expensive services]

  consider online services
[life coaches, computer help, tutors]

  consider trainees, students, or responsible teens
[schools, vo-techs]

  share services with others
[babysitters, golf lessons, personal trainers]

  anticipate emergency hires
[furnace, plumbing, electrical]

  trade or barter services
[beware tax consequences]

  insure
[weigh costs vs. risks]

STRATEGY NO. 5: AVOID PITFALLS

  require a physical address

  never hire anyone who contacts me first
[door to door solicitations]

  avoid quick hiring decisions
[plan ahead, follow checklist]

  hire the right level of specialization
[if too much, I overpay; if too little, the quality suffers]

  hire the right level of experience
[see above]

  avoid unnecessary hires

  never pay for work that isn’t performed

  decline oversells and upsells

  read contracts before signing them

  never use debt to fund discretionary services

  research all recommendations
[kickbacks are common]

  beware of deals “too good to be true”

STRATEGY NO. 6: FOLLOW UP

  inspect work

  oversee touchups

  check for math errors

  monitor sales taxes

  agree to form of payment
[cash discounts?]

  don’t pay until I’m satisfied

  build a long-term relationship

  make the work last
[seek service’s advice, use common sense]

  retain paperwork

  consider possible tax impacts
[deductions, tax credits]

  keep a “checklist savings log”
[see Chapter 47]

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