Thursday, July 20, 2017

Homeowner Tip: Real world ways to beat the heat and save energy.

The next few days can see temperatures over 100 degrees in Baltimore and Washington D.C. This causes a HUGE strain on your home, your pets, and yourself.

Countless articles have been posted with the “best things to do in heat”. Each is with a smile and few plugs for a paid advertisers.

Here are "Real World, you can do it now tips. The key is to keep your home at a "normal" temperature without having your AC work overtime. It is counter-intuitive but raising your thermostat slightly can make a big difference on extremely hot days. Whether you do this or not, the tips below can help no matter what.


1. Close your blinds curtains (as discussed previously, here).

2. Close the doors to unused rooms that face the sun (*note- we recommend against fully closing vents in those rooms as the area can get "too hot" and actually radiate adjoining areas).

3. Run Fans (typically, ceiling fans should run counter-clockwise).

4. Hang out in lower parts of your home (basement, etc.).

5. Grill or Eat out! (forego using your oven).

6. Use lighweight sheets and a blanket on your bed. "Less is more".

7. Eat Soup! This really works, so does spicy food. Just as in the next tip, it can jump-start your body's internal cooling system (a popular trick in Southeast Asia).

8. (Seriously)- Go Outside! Spend time in the shade but take in the heat. A few minutes outside initiates your body's internal cooling process making the indoors feel cooler and your body continue regulating it's temperature hours after heat exposure.

8.  BUT, drink cold liquids (besides hydrating, it helps keep body temp lower).

9. Take a cold shower.

DO NOT OVER EXERT YOURSELF. Your grass DOES NOT need to be cut today (it will only hurt it anyway).  

Stay Hydrated and keep an eye on Pets (even your neighbor’s pets).

PLEASE be vigilant for kids in cars!!!!!!!
*Not a 100% accurate story: The house pictures above was once a 3 story colonial painted a cool "tiffany blue". They didn't take our advice and now you see the remnants.

Hope this helps. For more tips follow this blog and remember to visit EFynch to register for more homeowners tips, discounts, or help in finding the next home repair proffesional or handyman in your area. 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hire a Handyman- Risk Identity Theft- The Pay Per Lead Industry you don't know exists

Baltimore, MD: You've seen the ads on TV. By using that service the trusted home repair advisor who has made the "list" is only a click away. Your home improvement/ handyman fears are now diminished and the smiling (sometimes made up) personality is assuring your comfort.

However, there is a glaring problem and it has to do with profits and the security of your personal information. 

*The "Before We Start Disclaimer": Not every online home improvement company does what I am about to describe but, it is prevailant. It generates fast and easy income and even us at EFynch had once been heavily advised to partipcate. But in truth, it is simply sleazy (IMO)- we are not participating in this practice.

Pay Per Lead is the horrible and deceptive practice that even the well-known brands in home improvement use.

They collect your information (often without your knowledge) and then sell it to local contractors. Sometimes for a hefty fee and without your knowledge. *It is rumored that one large group has a 300 person, off-shore call center focused just on this task.

The idea is simple- you go to a website or even answer an add for a local handyman service such as the one below.  Your information is collected, pooled, advertised and then sold to anyone willing to pay the fee ($5 per lead up to $600!)

I have personally called these numbers and spoke with an "answering service" (like it is 1995!) who said someone would call me back. My information was taken and within 20 minutes I began to recieve calls from 3 to 5 different contractors. Through discussion with one of the salesman, I found out they actualy paid a service $60 for my information. By my calculations, when I placed the phone call to the (not) local company, I netted that group at least $200 in fees.

The problem with this is two-fold. 

1. I did not know my information was being "sold". In fact, I was specifically told that I called a local company and that I was speaking to their answering service. There was no privacy policy given or respect for my data (which is now on several lists I am sure).

2. The local contractor I spoke with told me they close 1 in 5 of the leads they recieve (20%). Calculating these numbers, it translates to $300 in acquisition costs which he must then pass onto the owner (myself in this case). The project I was calling for would have been approximately $1,500 therefore 20% of what I pay my local proffesional is actually going into the pocket of a middle man!

This was sent to EFynch.
So, you unsuspectingly provided you name/ phone number/ etc. and it is sold off. You are now payingis  many of these groups DO NOT CARE WHO PURCHASED YOUR INFORMATION and they are not vetted. In fact, even EFynch was soliciated by a competitor because these guys use special tools to "scrape" the internet for data then offer it to the "highest bidder" Let that sink in- my competitor contacted me to sell a "lead"!
higher rates for home improvement services and the most dangerous aspect

EFynch has adds but always clearly states how we work, they approached us because their simplified system thought we were a contractor.

Pay Per Lead is a gross violation of trust and in my opinion tarneshes the experience for both homeowners and contractors alike. As long as I run EFynch I will make sure to work hard and rid the Home Improvement Industry of this practice- it serves no one but the salesman on the other end of the phone.

Please share. . .

Pay Per Lead Examples: Ads taken from Craigslist, only a small mention of "referred by" in the bottom of the ad. Same ads, different cities.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely the views of the author, Teris Pantazes and are meant to be made for discussion purposes and not home improvement work advice. EFynch is a communication system and this article does not represent the thoughts or opinions of EFynch or neccessarily any of the employees or owners of EFynch.  The information presented including images and references to phone calls and discussions were personally made by the author and can be provided upon valid request.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Asking for a Contractor Recommendation via Social Media? What you need to know first and how to avoid pitfalls

Baltimore, MD: We've all encountered it. You open Facebook or another social platform and see someone asking for a recommendation for a service. Typically a handyman, plumber,  etc (we will keep it to Home Improvement for this article).

Over the next few hours your timeline will fill with the posting person's friends and neighbors posting then, passively arguing whose contractor is better. Want to start a real debate? Forget politics, ask for a plumber instead. See below:

Recommendation #1: "Call Tom, his number is 410-555-5555"
Recommendation #2: "Try Jim, his number is 443-555-5555, he did our work last year, he is great"
Recommendation #3: "Hey, last year I used Frank, he did a great job. He was prompt, fair priced, honest, sincere, etc. etc. etc."

Notice a pattern? The first person usually throws the minimum info out, then it progresses with more detail.

*Side note- I once saw a women recommend her roofer with a 5 paragraph dossier. When I had my contracting company I received praises from customers. Something that long may have raised the eyebrow of my wife and I suspect this was not an honest recommendation.

Here is why:
There is a psychology behind online recommendations and more often than not- you're getting what you paid for (which is nothing).

Studies have shown that as much as 85% of online service recommendation are NOT actually made because the recommended person received a great service. The truth is a majority of responses are for "Self Affirmation".  (We've all done, I admit doing it myself).

Why? 33% of American homeowners replied that finding the right handyman or professional is the toughest part of any home improvement projects.  The reason is the conflicting nature and uncertainty of information that can be found in various places.

Once we make a choice, we want to think we found the best deal and since you asked, we are asking you to affirm this by hiring my handyman.

*(let's face it- your local handyman is good- "the best"? probably a stretch because that title goes to Bob Villa and you didn't hire Bob Villa).

They aren't saying "hire my guy because he is (literally) the best". They are figuratively saying "hire my guy. If you do it will prove that I made the right decision before". (Don't believe me, make a recommendation and then see how you feel when your reply is ignored or not chosen- I've done this and it feels like rejection).

Then, what happens when 4 friends make a recommendation and you can only choose one? Because of this Self-Affirmation rule, you've basically just told 3 other people that you found a better option-how is that for sour grapes!

Our Advice: Asking for a recommendation is better left for direct contact with someone you know and trust. Blindly turning online to your "nextdoor" community is only an avenue for a sales pitch and in our opinion, this is NOT proper research. Most of that information is unverified.

Online reviews can be valuable but make sure to find out how they were collected (i.e.- we only allow VERIFIED transactions to be rated on EFynch. Many sites  blindly asks  to rate their "trusted pros", they never check if the work was completed and opens the door for fake reviews).

In the end- remember that your neighbor probably did not hire "THE BEST HANDYMAN EVER" so finding an acceptable candidate who meets your expectations (pricing, experience, efficiency, schedule, etc.) is the most important goal.

POST YOUR NEXT HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT FOR FREE AT EFYNCH.COM. Privacy Protected- we never sell your information or give it to 3rd parties and you can save up to 40% on each project plus find the local/ independent pro already working in your neighborhood.  Click here.

This article is being shared by a Baltimore Based Handyman and Homeowner community. It is meant to provide advice for conversational purposes and is not a solicitation to do physical work to your property. EFynch is your handyman and contractor resource in the Maryland, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia regions. EFynch is a software platform that shares information and we advise you to speak with a licensed contractor or handyman prior to doing any work on your home.