It’s virtually impossible at the moment to hire anyone to do any repair, maintenance or construction work on your home, no matter how badly you need it. Right now, repair people are like the hottest kids in high school. Remember them? They were attractive. They had godlike skills at pretty much everything. The whole school envied them. They were utterly unattainable. And you, the pimply-faced freshman, stood by and looked on with a heart full of yearning as they strutted confidently past you toward their lockers.
Back then, you knew better than to just call up one of these high school hotties and say “I need you now.” And you shouldn’t do it with your repair or maintenance person either because you’ll get the same result. The good news is that the techniques that actually worked to attract the attention of the Prom King or Queen also work when attempting to secure the services of your local professional repair person. Let’s break it down:
Enter the Friend Zone: Where does your required service provider like to toss back a couple of brews? Maybe, one afternoon, you just happen to be there when they show up. You start up a casual conversation. Buy them a beverage. Or join their pickleball team, volunteer fire department, or book club. DO NOT mention that you require their services. Just play it cool, for heaven sakes. Did you learn nothing in 10th grade? Only on the third or fourth seemingly casual encounter, when you both know each other’s first names and those of your spouses, pets and children, should you mention that your washing machine hasn’t worked in three weeks. Now that you’re pals, you’ll be top of mind when an opening comes up in, like, a month.
Commit bribery: Are you in a position to provide anything of value to the repair person in question that would get you on their radar? Does their child attend the same school as your child? Think playdates, but cool ones like a trip to Disneyland, the nearby zip-line course, an Ariana Grande concert, or a very expensive dinner and a movie. But not if the children hate each other, obvs. That would be counterproductive. Find out what the repair person’s spouse does for work and patronize the living heck out of the business. Do they have a favorite charity? Be a super-donor! Word will get back. You’ll come off as a thoughtful, generous, selfless person because you give and give and don’t ask for anything in return…yet.
Conscript an intermediary: Remember when you asked your high school crush’s best friend to deliver a note to them that simply said “Do you like me? Yes or No” and all the crush had to do was circle one and return the note. Then it was game on! (Or, sadly, off.) This strategy works with repair people as well. Ask a friend who is already using this person’s services to make an introduction, but not an introduction like “Hey, my friend Jim needs you to fix his toilet.” Make it less The Fonz and more Cyrano: “My dear, kind friend Jim has been having such terrible luck finding a good plumber and he’s been through all the usual suspects. He is just not satisfied. He’s very discerning. I’ve told him all about you and how fabulous you are and he said you sound like his dream come true. Are you interested?”
Shower them with cash: Once you’ve attracted their attention, promise to give your repair person what they really want: Cash On Delivery. You might need to take out a small home-equity loan to do this, but it will be worth it, as you will mark yourself as “that customer who pays cash.” Just like footing the bill for the first date, you will present yourself as a discerning, generous individual who understands what it means to take care of that important someone.
Make them feel special: After the successful completion of that first repair job, leave a glowing review on their
page, website and their Angi listing. Offer to be a reference. Brag about how great they are to all your friends, who will be super jealous (bonus!). Call them two days after your appointment and tell them that you can’t stop thinking about them or the terrific job they did on your drain. Leave a long, warm, squishy trail of good will after that first job and you will be guaranteed a second repair appointment when the need arises.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
What’s your secret to getting a household repair person to visit your home?
Don’t be afraid to break up: Sometimes, that perfect Prom King or Queen ends up being more like a Joker. If, after all the hard wooing, you realize that your repair person is awful at their job, it’s better to end things quickly than to let it drag on until you’re both miserable. But one final tip: Don’t break up until you’ve found your next repair person. “Taking some time alone” is the exact opposite of what you need when it comes to home repair.
Write to Kris Frieswick at [email protected]
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Appeared in the January 14, 2022, print edition as ‘Repair Professionals Are Hot and In Demand.’