Thursday, June 11, 2015

Locating Services in Your New Home

If you gathered 10 people and asked them, "What's the hardest part of moving to a new city?" you might get one person who says packing and another who says unpacking. But probably eight of the 10 will say the hardest thing about moving is not knowing who to call when you need something done.

During every one of my 10 out-of-town moves, I hit a peak of frustration when I realized I didn't know a single plumber, electrician or handyman, I had no idea where to get my hair cut, and I was probably going to go through a couple dry cleaners before I found someone I liked.

Frustrating, because word-of-mouth recommendations are the best way to find services, and we're new in town and don't know anyone to ask!

Fortunately, I've found some ways to locate great services when I'm new in town.

I love me some library

Yes, even in this day of holding so much power in a smart phone, your local library still is a valuable resource. When you're new in town, make the public library one of your first stops. Check out bulletin boards, fliers, brochures and other local resources. You might be surprised how fast you can be connected with your new community, just by going old school. The more more people you connect with, the faster you'll be able to get recommendations and referrals for services.

How to use Yelp and other review websites

How hard can it be? You need an appliance repairman, you go to Yelp, do a search for appliance repairmen in your city and look at the reviews. That's a start, but it requires a little bit more work to get a true picture.

Read carefully. Smaller review websites and even large ones like Yelp are fraught with potential problems. Competitors can create phony accounts and post bad reviews. Business owners can give incentives for glowing reviews. If you're going to use a review website, don't just look at the ratings or number of stars. Carefully read the best and worst reviews and look for details that ring true. If the reason for a one-star rating is "He showed up 20 minutes late and smelled like peanut butter" you can probably discount that one.

Look for the ratings that are somewhere between the extremes. These reviewers are going to be the most prolific and thoughtful reviewers and will most likely paint a picture of their experience that includes both pros and cons.

Look for responses from the business. A business serious about good customer service is going to take online reviews seriously and will respond to a bad review. You may get some insight into the quality of the service provider just from his or her response.

Hair salons and other personal services

Right before my move from Ohio to Illinois, I was complaining to my hair stylist, Ken, that I was dreading the first few months in my new city. It had taken me six months to find Ken when we moved back to Ohio from Virginia. Now it was time to move again and I knew there were some try-and-miss bad haircuts in my future.

"There's got to be a better way," I told Ken.

"There is," he said. He told me to go to a shopping mall, get a coffee and take a seat in the middle of a busy concourse. "When you see someone who has hair similar to yours and you like the way it looks, ask her where she gets her hair cut."

Well, if that isn't the best idea ever. It seems bold, but people generally don't mind being approached, especially if your question is also a compliment. Word of mouth is the least risky way to find salon services. And better yet when you can see the results for yourself.

Social networks and apps

Our favorite social networks connect us with old boyfriends, but do little for our relationships with the guy next door. But where Facebook fails, there are other networks to step in.

I am currently loving Nextdoor, a social network app that connects me with people in my own neighborhood. We can sell our unwanted furniture, get recommendations on pet sitters, and compare notes on why the fire department was on our block last night. The best part is getting recommendations for home repair providers who service our area, restaurants and personal services.

Nextdoor is one of a number of hyper-local social networks available online and as apps for your mobile devices. Ask your neighbors if there's one that serves your area.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

No comments:

Post a Comment