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“The Handyman Unmasked”: An Online Class

Just about every day I listen to stories from homeowners puzzled by the behavior of a past or would-be handyman. Why did they never hear back from him? Why did he suddenly quit before the job was finished? When will he ever return to fix the thing that immediately broke again?

You know, I hate to be the one who has to stick-up for lawyers, but when it comes to those who maintain a good social distance from the truth, lawyers are mere amateurs. Generally speaking, a handyman is a better target for that old joke about you can always tell he’s lying “when his lips are moving.” But, what’s a homeowner to do these days, with handymen now wearing masks covering their mouths, when even THAT clue can’t help you?

So today, we at Fix St Louis are pleased to deliver this very short online class. The topic is how to translate the garbling coming from behind the mask of your handyman into the truth. Just to be clear, NONE of this applies to Fix St Louis. We’re the folks trying to professionalize the infamous handyman industry, remember?

Introduction: The First Principle of the Handyman Industry

“The value of your job to the handyman, and his associated willingness to achieve customer satisfaction, are directly proportional to how big your job is versus his other jobs.”

So, if you have a relatively small job, your “customer service” (geez, am I being kind here) will generally be worse than a customer with a bigger job. That means things like later start dates, longer times to finish, less competitive pricing, reluctance to return to fix subsequent quality issues, and lack of responsiveness to phone calls and emails.

Example #1:

Handyman: “Great! We’ll start your job in about 3 weeks, depending on how fast we finish our other jobs between now and then.”

Oh, that’s a good one, always makes me laugh like hearing it for the very first time! What this really means is we’ll start your job in about 3 weeks depending upon whether any BIGGER jobs pop-up between now and then. Now you may think, well that’s OK because he didn’t ask me for any money in advance. But as a result, you actually HAVE no agreement, and he may never call you back at all – while you Mr/Ms Honest Homeowner, have in effect made a commitment to not hiring anyone else. It may seem counterintuitive, but assuming the handyman is not a crook (beware: we believe ~25% are convicted felons), you are better off paying money in advance because then at least you do have some kind of legally enforceable commitment. Assuming you’re into that lawyer kind of thing. Or you can just call Fix St Louis – we provide firm start dates so you can just put us in your calendar, schedule around us, and stop thinking about it.

Example #2:

Handyman: “Sorry, I’m going to have to take a few days off to go to the out-of-town funeral of a Great Aunt.”

Let me start by apologizing for what I’m about to say to that infinitesimally small number of you out there who have large extended families where EVERYONE gets along and SOMEBODY in that family keeps meticulous family trees – these remarks are not meant for you. But for everyone else, this just means you are being bumped by a handyman’s customer who has a bigger job, and it’s possible you will NEVER see him again. I’ve got news for you. NOBODY knows what a Great Aunt is. Even if they did, NOBODY could figure out who she is. NOBODY would take a few days off and forgo their wages to mourn her. And NOBODY would travel out of town to attend her funeral. Nothing against Great Aunts, but how could they be THAT “great”?

Example #3:

Handyman: “Sure, we’d be glad to change that light bulb. That will cost you $500.”

Yeah, I made this one easy on purpose. Unless that light bulb is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and illuminates God’s finger reaching out to Adam, changing a light bulb should not cost that much. But some handymen think quoting outrageous prices on small jobs is a win-win situation for them. If their bid is rejected they didn’t have to explain the job was too small to interest them. But if the bid is accepted the money is worth it. Unfortunately, for most jobs you may not even KNOW what a reasonable price is. So either get additional bids, or call a company that cares about building up a portfolio of happy repeat customers and wants to keep its great reputation. Oh, coincidentally, have I mentioned Fix St Louis?

Geez, this online teaching is exhausting! I don’t know how the school teachers do it. So everyone, you can take off your masks now. Be sure to maintain appropriate distances from normal people and suspicious handymen.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis