I’m a big fan of outsourcing. I had a conversation today that reminded me of this. I think a lot of people don’t outsource enough in their private lives.
Here’s a good example. I used to have a deal with my roommate. She did the outdoor work (mowing, shoveling, etc.) and I did the indoor cleaning. This was back when I was playing poker for a living, a job in which the amount of money I made was directly proportional to the amount of hours I worked.
With poker, let’s say you make an average of $50 per hour. You can always just work an extra hour and make an extra $50. I’m speaking theoretically here, as poker has a good amount of variance, but replace this with any job where overtime is available and you get the picture.
A maid, on the other hand, charges about $20/hr (for a good one through an agency, often less for a lady off Craigslist). So if you can make, $50 working an extra hour, you can use that money to hire a maid for 2.5 hours.
Also, a maid will get more done in 2.5 hours than you will, because they clean professionally. Admittedly cleaning isn’t rocket surgery, but anyone who has hired a maid will tell you, there is some skill to it. Your maid will do a better job than you and do it faster. And you’ll be happier because you probably like whatever it is you do for a living more than you like cleaning.
So really you’re working one hour to save yourself from cleaning for 3 hours, and even still getting a cleaner house than if you did it yourself instead. Your total profit is 2 hours and a few dust bunnies.
I was talking to an older gentleman not long ago and a similar theme came up. He is the old school sort who does everything himself. While I admire that, I made the joke that I come from a long line of men who called the plumber when the pipes broke.
I mentioned my dad, who, for a very long time, worked long hours as a postmaster. His job paid more than a plumber makes as well, so it made financial sense for him to work hard at his job and outsource the plumbing. In fact it really wouldn’t have made much sense for him to do any sort of menial work for himself.
All of this comes, of course, with a few caveats. For one, it probably doesn’t work if you have a job that’s strictly salary and in which working an extra day nets you $0. Again you maybe should outsource just for peace of mind. You can’t take it with you when you go, after all. But doing so won’t be a source of profit.
And it doesn’t work if you would simply do both. My dad, despite working a lot of hours, kept a really clean home. So for him a maid would simply have been a luxury. When I work that many hours my home will get gross as I’ll spend my off days in what medical professionals call a “persistent vegetative state”. But if I’m working a reasonable week, I’ll just spend a few hours cleaning myself. Though you better believe I’m still snagging all of the cheapo ones on Groupon.
Finally, you have to either make more than the people you’re outsourcing to charge, or simply hate the work they do (or suck at doing it) enough that you’d be willing to work more at your job than at theirs. Plumbing fits squarely into that mold for me. Even if I made $10 an hour, I’d rather do almost anything else for 5x as long because there’s a pretty good chance I’d end up with severe water damage from even the simplest job.
Some no-brainers for outsourcing are:
1. Moving. Moving companies work relatively cheap. They’re not that much more expensive than renting a truck and doing it yourself really. They charge you something like $30/hr for 2 people, with the truck included. Those 2 people can do as much as you and your four friends, who you’re inconveniencing and probably buying pizza for anyway. They’ll box up your stuff and unbox it for you, saving you hours worth of time.
2. Lawn work. You can get a kid to mow your lawn for $10/hr with little effort. Work one or two extra shifts and you can not touch your lawn all summer.
3. Anything brainless that involves phone calls. I use Fancyhands for this. I’ve routinely had them make dozens of calls in the middle of my work day for what amounted to $5. If you’re an executive at a small enough company that doesn’t have the budget for a full-time assistant, you’d be baffled at how much work they’ll get done for you for an insignificant price. and they’re not limited to business tasks either.
4. Home repairs you can do. Home repairs you can’t do yourself are obvious but not really the point here.
I’m still learning on that last one. I’m trying to figure out how to use outsourcing virtual assistants more profitably. I suspect there’s a goldmine there, but I just haven’t figure out exactly how to integrate it into my work/home life yet.