Rod Davis, President, BBB Serving Southeast FL and the Caribbean
After the holidays and as we start into the new year, I always like to take a few moments to reset my life, see what I can do to simplify my world and treat myself (I have been so good I absolutely deserve it and so do you).
I am lucky to have two happy and healthy parents, and my mother shared some advice with me that still resonates today. She hired a house cleaner and I asked her why since she always took pleasure in keeping a beautiful and clean home. Her response said it all, “I have cleaned enough toilets in my life and you can never play enough golf.” So, I followed her lead and hired a great cleaning company. There are many quality providers in Southeast Florida like www.AllDiamondCleaning.com, www.CastaliaCleaning.com and www.MrKleanFla.com. You can find local cleaners in your area at www.BBB.org/SEFL. It is always good to interview a potential cleaning company to make sure they are bonded and licensed, use the type of products you prefer (environmentally friendly), provide the full complement of services you seek (do they do windows or deep clean) and to see how responsive they are to your suggestions to clean your home the way you want it done.
Lawn maintenance and lawn care is another time consuming task for homeowners and renters. In the hot summer months doing basic lawn care is a demanding chore and Floridians are exploring several options to minimize lawn maintenance.
While artificial lawns are not for everyone, they have become much more realistic looking, provide a low maintenance option and since they do not require water, can reduce your water bill as well. You can find quality companies like: www.FloridaFakeGrass.com at www.BBB.org/SEFL to obtain quotes and information to help you determine if this is an option you would like to consider.
Low Maintenance Landscape
Another option to reduce time and effort to maintain a beautiful lawn can be achieved by working with experienced landscape designers. A landscape designer can help create a Florida oasis that requires little water, maintenance and looks great. You can obtain quotes from Landscape Architects at https://seflorida.app.bbb.org/connect Be clear about your goals and provide the same guidance to each business you interview so you can compare each proposal to settle on the one that works best for you.
Cutting lawns, taking care of flower beds and trimming trees is another way to spend time away from work, unless you would rather be spending time at the beach or with friends. Create an inventory of the services you want done to your lawn/landscape (fertilizer, treatment for pests, edging, mulching, tree trimming, grass cutting, cutting back bushes) so you and your contractor have shared expectations for the work and the costs. Having a standardized list will also let you compare quotes from several quality companies to find the business that makes you feel like you are a priority for them at a value that works for you.
It is often late in the evening when I get home and then I have the chore of cooking a meal that is quick and nutritious. Businesses are stepping in to offer food options that make it easier and less time consuming for consumers. Many consumers are finding prepared food options a great time and stress reliever, but there have also been problems. Some of these services require long-term contracts and advance payments and like any startup industry, some of the businesses do not measure up to customer expectations and some have closed their doors with consumers still being owed meals/services from advance payments. Locally, we have a business that offers this service, Fit2go (www.Fit2GoMeal.com). Fit2go lets customers pay as they go so you do not risk losing your money. There are many other national services in this space as well. Make sure you can try out the service first so that it works for you, evaluate the food and delivery options, review all costs (meal costs, annual fees) and find the option that meets your taste and expectations. These services should make your palate happy, while at the same time they simplify your life, and if that is not happening there are always other options.
Another potential time saver for consumers is grocery delivery. Online services are available in most markets to enable consumers to shop online and have groceries delivered to their home for a fee. Shipt and Instacart are two options available in South Florida. Since these services are relatively new, consumers need to carefully review the services and prices to determine if the potential time savings is worth the costs and the loss of control over the process (you know how long it will take to go to Publix and get the groceries you need and relying on a third party is not as predictable). As always, it is a good idea to go to www.BBB.org and see the types of complaints and reviews consumers are posting about a business. A quick review of Shipt and Instacart can help you determine if grocery delivery is something you want to consider. Some of the issues raised by consumers include: problems with delivery, added fees that are allegedly not disclosed, higher prices per item compared to shopping directly and other billing issues related to membership fees. Most of the delivery options include an annual fee to obtain “free” delivery for orders over a specified amount. Additionally, the fees may include a service fee, tip, and as indicated in the complaints from consumers, there may also be mark ups on items purchased using a delivery service. You should carefully consider the full cost of a service and the potential pros and cons to determine if grocery delivery service is something you want to consider.
Some programs and services may reduce a stress line or two while giving you some extra time to share with your loved one. Unfortunately, when you hire the wrong business, the result can be more time lost and aggravation, so always take time to check out a business before you hire them, especially when you are entering into any kind of annual membership or commitment. Like a bad marriage, it is easier to get married than it is to get a divorce so invest the time to make sure you have the right partner.