Why do services cost so much?

Did you hear the one about the heating contractor/washer repairman/lawn mower guy?  The homeowners, at wit’s end, finally call for help to get the system back in action.  The contractor shows up, listens to the tale of woe, inspects the equipment, considers the noises being made, then takes out a hammer, and whack! hits the equipment soundly in a particular place.  The system immediately comes back online, no weird noises, no vibrations.  The homeowners express amazement and gratitude.  The contractor presents an invoice.  The homeowners gasp.  “But you’ve only been here 5 minutes!” they cry.  “All you did was hit it with a hammer!  We could have done that ourselves!”  “Yes,” replies the contractor, “but I know where to aim.”

Experience.  A large part of why a service costs so much is the sum total of the experience of the service provider.  While the homeowner has been busy pushing a pencil or managing a market, the service provider has been busy in his/her own way, in his/her own field.  That field might be plumbing or roofing or tiling.  It might be haircutting or dressing women for gala events or even running gala events.  It might be working on your personal injury claim or removing your gall bladder.  It hardly matters what it is, a person who’s been working at something day after day, year after year, is bound to actually get good at that something.  Maybe even so good, it looks easy.

Think of your own job.  Do you know it better now than you did when you began?  Chances are, you can do it faster and more efficiently today, and have probably advanced to a higher level of sophistication within your field.  It’s only natural.  (This is not to say everyone is good at what they do, but the general rule holds nonetheless.)

The 4 hours (or 3 days or 2 weekends) that the homeowners just spent failing to fix the equipment simply wasn’t enough on-the-job-training to master the skill needed to get it back in shape.  Sure, sometimes it works.  And sometimes you just like doing it yourself, and you have all the time in the world, and you don’t mind going to the laundromat for a few weeks or warming your dinner in the fireplace.

Don’t be afraid to hire an expert.  Save time.  Get it done right.

My specialties?  As a small business accountant in South Jersey for over 20 years, I know my way around a tax return, and I can interpret those love letters you get on occasion from Uncle Sam or the governor.  Some people even say I make it look easy.  Aww shucks!