Here's how you can find tradespeople that really are willing to go the
extra mile to do a good job for you.
What do you do with your old yellow pages phone directory when you get a
new one every year?
Most people just chuck the old one in the paper recycling bin, and
that's a waste of valuable information.
When a baby electrician or plumber gets out of trade school, he doesn't
start his own company. Instead, he gets hired by one of the local
plumbing or electrical contractors and learns the practical aspects of
the trade he's chosen. It's not until that plumber is fully trained and
practiced in all the aspects of his work that he'll have enough
confidence to start thinking about starting his own company. After all,
leaving the security of a regular pay cheque and gambling on having a
better life as your own boss is a big step, but it's one that a lot of
tradespeople do make.
Obviously, for any start-up company, it's important to get their name in
the yellow pages because that's where 90 percent of their business is
going to come from.
So, by keeping your old copy of the yellow pages phone directory from
one year to the next, you can simply compare the alphabetical order of
the names to find out who's started his own new company. But, compare
the phone numbers as well because a business that merely changes it's
name may be worth avoiding. No company that feels it has a good
reputation in the community is going to change it's name.
By hiring new upstart companies, it's the President and CEO of the new
company that'll be coming out to your house to give you an estimate on
what needs to be done, and how much it will cost. The cost he quotes
you won't be significantly less than any other company, because he knows
what other companies charge for that same work, but the difference is
that this guy has a vested interest in doing the best job he possibly
can for you because he knows that his business is going to benefit from
any word-of-mouth advertising that comes his way as a result. So, the
motivation is there on his part to do a better job and provide better
service than the guys that are working for a monthly salary for the well
See, he's not stupid either. He knows that it's possible to overcharge
for shoddy work and make some money fast on unsuspecting customers, but
that's not how you grow a business for the long term. So, he's going
take this gamble by playing it as safe as he can, and that's by doing
the best job he can for each customer he gets. Then, if the business
still doesn't fly, he can go back to salaried employment knowing that he
gave it his best shot, but it just wasn't in the cards he was dealt.
And, that's exactly what you'd do too if you were in his shoes.
So, when you get a new yellow pages business directory each year, don't
throw out the old one. Keep it for at least a year so that you have two
year by year listings of who's doing each kind of work in your city or
town. That way, when you need to hire someone to clear a sewer or build
a fence or reshingle your house, you can tell who's just started their
own company, and you're likely to do better than by simply hiring any
company that's listed in the book; especially if everyone on the crew
that company sends to your house gets paid the same regardless of how
good a job they do.
In medieval times, a master of a craft or trade would take in an
apprentice to train in his trade. For seven years that apprentice would
live in his master's house and work in his master's shop and his only
pay would be in the form of room and board at his master's table. After
seven years, the apprentice would become a "journeyman" which comes from
the French word "jour", which means "a 24 hour day". That meant that
the apprentice, now a "jour man", was entitled to be paid a wage for
each day that he worked. After honing his skills working for his daily
salary in his master's shop, the journeyman could then apply to the
guild to become a master of the trade in his own right. In a time when
only the clergy and the very rich could afford the luxury of time away
from work to learn to read and write, the "test" to become a master was
for the journeyman to submit an example of his best work to the "guild",
which was a collection of the local masters in that trade, much like the
"Roofing Contractors Association of Ontario", but put in your own trade
for "Roofing". Stone mason, cooper, milner, thatcher or tanner,
perhaps. The local guild would assess the quality of the piece
submitted and decide whether or not that journeyman should be
acknowledged as a master.
And, it is this medieval practice that is the origin of our word
It was a journeyman's "master piece" that he would work on and submit to
the guild for consideration in his bid to become a master. Becoming a
master was very much like going into business for yourself nowadays. It
meant you could open your own shop if you wanted to, charge whatever you
wanted for your own work, and take in an apprentice to train if you so
Even at a time when there was no such thing as taxpayer funded "public
schools", people were just as intelligent as they are today and
organized an educational system of sorts that was well suited to both
the needs of their children and the needs of the community.