Studio 5 Contributor and Consumer educator, Teresa Hunsaker, advises everyone to ask a few key questions before hiring help.
Fast paced lifestyles, hectic family schedules, non-traditional work schedules, lack of skills, and lack of free time has many of us looking to hire help. But before you pick up the phone and schedule someone to come in, for whatever task you have them doing, it is important to do some research and careful consideration.
First, ask yourself some questions. These are intended to get you thinking about the balance between time and cost. Because when you say “Yes” to one thing, you are probably saying “No” to something else. This is called an opportunity cost. So to help you determine the real disadvantages and advantages for YOU—and your family—not someone else and what they are doing, here are some things to consider:
Do I have the time/skill to do this myself, or is hiring really the way to go?
Am I going to feel guilty if I don’t do this myself?
Does this service allow me to spend more quality time with more important things right now?
Does our family budget support this expense, or am I merely rationalizing its necessity?
Is there a relationship cost to this service? (Will it upset my spouse, or leave my children concerned?)
Do I really want people in my home for this purpose?
Will I need/want to be present to oversee what is being done?
Do I trust an independent person, or would I feel more comfortable with the service hired through a company?
Is this going to be a real help, or, in the long run, a hindrance? (For example, if I have to clean before the cleaning lady gets here, how much help is that?)
Does it fill a need/want short term, or long term?
Do you have the person’s full name and all contact information?
How long have they been in business?
Are the quality, brand, and contents of supplies or materials being used to your liking and standard?
Is the person or company bonded?
Is there at least 3 other similar services to compare price and work?
What type of insurance is there for this—either from their end or yours? (Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for any injuries that may occur on your premises.)
What are the companies own hiring and screening procedures? (Background checks, reference checks, legal status, etc.)
How is the quality of service measured and verified to ensure quality of service is maintained?
Is the person licensed in this state to do business?
Do they have any complaints with the Better Business Bureau or State Office of Licensing?
How does the person/company expect to be paid? (Before or after the service, cash, check, credit card?)
How does the company handle complaints and is there a written satisfaction guarantee in place?
Do you have any tax obligations to the IRS for hiring this service/work done? (You may need to contact the IRS.)
What, if anything, do you have to supply in order to have this work preformed?
Finalizing the Decision
1. Put things in writing.
a. Exactly what is to be done.
b. When work will be done—or how often.
c. Exactly what is included in the cost.
d. Specifics on time, labor, supplies.
e. Cancellation policy—or final notice, or termination clause.
2. See current certificates of liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
3. Check out references thoroughly.
4. Pay by check, not cash.
There are some services or work that may need to have more extensive contracts and details addressed than what is covered here.
For example, hiring remodeling work done on your home will also need such research as to lien protection—from liens against your home if the primary contractor does not pay his or her subcontractors or suppliers; or a warranty clause in the contract—including whether it is a FULL warranty that gives the consumer certain automatic rights or a LIMITED warranty that restricts certain consumer rights; local and state permits required; etc. Oh, and never make final payment until work has been well inspected and reviewed, and contract adhered to.
If you have any questions, contact Teresa Hunsaker at the Family and Consumer Science Education Department at the Weber County USU Extension office at (801) 399-8203 or online at www.extension.usu.edu/weber