#5: Hiring Help

This is part of a series in which we re-evaluate Money Magazine’s “25 Rules To Grow Rich By”. One “rule” will be re-evaluated each weekday until the series concludes; you can keep tabs on the action at the 25 Rules index.

Rule #5: Never hire a roofer, driveway paver or chimney sweep who is going door to door.

This is the one rule out of the entire list that made me wonder if the writers of the list were not thinking clearly. What do these jobs really have to do with anything, or with the concept behind the rule? Is it acceptable to hire a landscaper if that person is going door to door? What about an accountant? I actually can’t quite figure this out.

The services mentioned are home improvement tasks, but these are a seemingly random subset of the home improvement tasks that might be sold in a door-to-door approach. Does this rule mean that you should just avoid roofers, chimney sweeps, and driveway pourers, but other door-to-door salesman are fine?

Let’s stop debating such trivial items: the fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t hire someone without reputation to perform any task for you beyond trivial labor tasks that you could easily do yourself (such as paying the neighbor kid $20 to mow your lawn or scoop snow off your sidewalk). The only possible exception to this is if you know them personally and know their work ethic or if they are just getting started in business and are offering an incredible deal in order to build up a customer base (such as a job without labor cost).

Otherwise, why hire someone who can’t provide references for you to check on? You wouldn’t hire an accountant to do your taxes without reputation and you wouldn’t allow an unlicensed medical student perform surgery on you, so why would you allow unreferenced people to provide any other complex services for you. If you can’t get references, don’t hire the person unless the job is highly trivial. Let’s rewrite this rule.

Rule #5: Never hire anyone to provide a nontrivial service for you if they cannot provide quality references.

You can jump ahead to rule #6 or jump back to rule #4.

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