I've spent the last 10 years working in a daycare surrounded mostly by women. So whenever something breaks, they come to me, reasoning that since I'm a guy I must be able to fix things. Regardless, it never sinks in no matter how many times I scold them, "My ability to fix a leaky pipe or unclog a stuffed up drain doesn't extend much beyond putting in a call to my mother to see if she knows the name of a good plumber.
Now, not every one has such a horrible history with hammers and hacksaws, but who says he orshe has the time or energy for home improvement when the express train pulls into Chappaqua. Worse yet, how do you go about finding someone when your sink fills up with week old shaving cream and toothpaste.
Mike Gilfeather and Kurt McKinney both knew the drill in regards to finding someone to come out to their home and fix those small (or big) nagging jobs that they didn’t have time to get to themselves. In the ten years since opening the Home Services Shop in Pleasantville, they have completed over 3000 jobs with a fluid staff of employees and a growing base of satisfied customers.
Currently with 15 technicians, Mr. McKinney, as vice president of Operations, knows what home owners should look for when hiring a handyman or woman. Most simply put, “Everybody has that uncle, brother or cousin who knows how to fix stuff,” he says, and ideally, that’s the type of person you’d like in your house.
A resume containing a background in engineering or a good number of years working for themselves is a good place to start. Home Services’ interviews consist of determining if each applicant’s technological knowledge supports the qualifications on their resume.
So in the many instances where one job can potentially turn into three, a single qualified handyman with experience in carpentry, plumbing, electrical work and such can handle it all in one. A diverse range of abilities also means customers can leave a punch list of problems for one man or woman to complete around the house in a single day.
Home owners lacking a base amount of knowledge to effectively interview should, if they can, look for online testimonials, as Home Services does, says Mr. McKinney. Home Services also has its employees background checked, drug tested, insured and bonded. “We wouldn’tsend anyone to your home that we wouldn’t have in our own homes,” he says, but that can’t always be easily done from the yellow pages or the internet.
Along with a homeowner’s feeling of security in a handyman’s abilities and background, comes accessibility. Many times handymen show up for an estimate, take a deposit and then retreat to the safety of their voicemail systems.
What happens is when higher paying jobs come along they push your ripped screen to the bottom of the queue (or out the back door). So reaching an actual person – rather than a machine – could mean your leaky faucet won’t be immersed beneath a tidal wave of drips. A real person can imply an office staff that keeps track of the business end of your business and possibly more than one technician who’s ready to assist when needed.
It becomes very important if something develops once repairs have been made. “You can always get a human being on the phone,” says Mr. McKinney, as he knows the satisfaction and security the feeling provides for the customers of Home Services Shop at 41 Washington Avenue.
Although, Mr. McKinney recommends Home Services’ model of accountability over other staffed repair shops who may send out equally qualified technicians. The difference, he believes, is that a shop which sends employees to your home provides a superior service than one providing subcontractors. “All our guys work exclusively for us, they are employees and so we’re accountable for everything we do,” he concludes.
Rich Monetti is a Westchester based freelance writer and can be found between 3-6 at the after school program at Mt Kisco Childcare. He also recently unclogged the drain in his bathroom - but only after his mother talked him through it.