It’s been a rather frustrating few weeks for me, at least in terms of getting things done at home. One of the cables on my garage door got off of its track somehow, and my time is at a premium, so I set about hiring someone to fix it. I went onto Angie’s List to see if I could find a contractor that specialized in solving this sort of problem.
Looking for that was probably stupid, however. I realized my mistake when I got onto the site and did a search for contractors. I tried searching for terms like “fixes garage doors” and got empty results back. Stymied, I started looking at contractor profiles and seeing that they really didn’t match in any way even remotely like that. Here’s what a typical one looked like.
- Extremely proficient in hammer, table saw, drill driver, and crowbar.
- 5 years of experience cutting cables, tying knots, and winding metal cables around spring-loaded spools.
- Limited experience with reciprocating saw and lathe.
- Regularly determines the correct situation for using a screw versus a nail.
- Strong preference for DeWalt tools.
- Capable of carrying tools in a bag, box, or wheeled assembly as dictated by the job.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- FFL, AFF, UON, IBEW, ECB, SE
*Smacked forehead* Of course! I’d been going about this all wrong. I was looking for an expert to solve my problem, when what I really needed to do was spend a lot of time learning the minutiae of what exact skills, tools, and techniques were necessary to solve that problem. Once I’d spent a few days doing that, I could then make a still ill-informed guess as to which contractor’s experience might prove relevant to my situation.
That’s exactly what I did, and, though you’d assume this would go well, somehow, it didn’t. The first guy said he had a lot of experience with steel cables, things that twist, and larger fixtures. As a bonus, he expressed an intimate knowledge of how water would impact the garage door apparatus. I had no idea how this was relevant, but he sounded like he knew what he was doing, so I hired him. After two days, I came and found that he hadn’t fixed the door, but he had installed a sink that was blocking my car in. When I demanded to know why he’d done this, he confessed that he was really more of a plumber, but that he wanted to learn about garage doors and just assumed that they were more or less the same thing.
The next guy didn’t build anything that blocked my car in. As a matter of fact, he didn’t build anything at all. He just came in for a few days, laid all kinds of screws, nuts, bolts, and magnets on the ground, and then proceeded to arrange, re-arrange, and re-re-arrange them ad nauseum. Each time he’d do it, he’d squint at the broken garage door apparatus and mutter to himself about it being important to have the right organizational framework to tackle this problem. When I finally let him go after a few days, he’d managed to build a small pyramid out of 2 inch screws. I’m not going to lie; it was impressive. But it was also useless.
Knowing that this was stupid, I did what any reasonable person would do. Instead of hiring someone to solve my problem, I hired someone that could both understand what I was trying to do and who could also make sense of all of these contractor profiles. All it cost me was an extra 20% of the job total.