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Trouble At The Front Door

Wall Street Journal staff reporter Gwendolyn Bounds reports on a mortifying statistic in an article about the standardization of handyman etiquette.

Summer is key home-improvement time, and helping fuel these franchises' growth is an aging U.S. housing stock; the average abode is 33, older than at any previous time in U.S. history and often in need of a little nip and tuck that major contractors are too busy to take on. Meantime, overall home-improvement spending by homeowners continues to tick upward, rising 5.2% from the end of the first quarter of last year through the first quarter of 2005 and totaling $126.1 billion for 2004, up 15% from 2001, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing studies.

As with any franchise outfit, standardization is vital to developing a unique brand and streamlined systems. In the case of franchised home helpers, protocols help distinguish workers from the rather laissez-faire world of local "Chuck in a Truck" servicemen who often get tapped for small jobs. Trying to toss out bad apples at the front lines, many handyman franchises run criminal background and motor-vehicle department checks on the techs they hire. About 70% of applicants fail right off the bat, says Andy Bell, founder of Handyman Matters Franchising Corp. of Denver, which manages 100 franchises in 37 states.

"We took a random sample of 100 applicants, and only 30 of them were qualified to work in someone's home," he says. The remainder had offenses on their records, Mr. Bell says, including aggravated assault, weapons possession, rape and child molestation.

That's just outright scary...


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Comments (5)

My husband is a foreman for... (Below threshold)
Meezer:

My husband is a foreman for a chain of home insulators (blow-ins, bats, etc.). Most of the installers are work-release prisoners from the county lock-up.
When I ask my husband, "How did work go today, dear?" it's with a little more trepidation than is usual for such questions.

Maybe the sex crimes offend... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

Maybe the sex crimes offenders could franchise "Chester in a Truck".

Last week a woman was raped... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Last week a woman was raped and murdered in her home by a workman, who had been power-washing the outside.....less than 1/2 mile from my home. It is truly scary. She left a husband and two children, ages 8 and 6. Horrors.

I never thought about it un... (Below threshold)
jen:

I never thought about it until I had to tell a work man that was coming in to service a copier at our office that he could not come in because of his rap sheet. That got me thinking about all of the service people that we invite into our homes who are probably equally shady.

Be very careful, folks. Ask the employer if they run background checks on their service people.

One in seven men are FELONS... (Below threshold)
t. z.:

One in seven men are FELONS.

How many are handy?
Think about it...don't be stoopid.

Some people know there is a felon in the house when they ask for ANY contractor to do a job.

Jus sayin




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