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How to Look for Help

January 31, 1991|PAULA M. JHUNG

Most personal service companies are set up to either help out for a one-shot event, or can be retained on a regular basis.

Some are listed in the Yellow Pages under "Personal Services," while others can only be found word-of-mouth.

Since dependability is crucial, it's important to request a list of references and to contact them.

Also ask for a brochure and see how long it takes to get it. I have never heard from two companies whose brochures I requested while researching this story, and one person waited four weeks before sending hers. A pretty good indicator of inefficiency. (They're not included in this story.)

Most claim to "do everything," but, like the rest of us, they have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are accomplished cooks and can whip up a decent meal when you're sick or don't have the energy to go out. Others shine in office skills, but may have the taste of Peg Bundy when it comes to shopping.

Think about jobs you hate to do, as well as chores that infringe on family and career. Then look for someone whose skill and background is up to the challenge.

As for price, ask for an estimate of the jobs you have in mind, and check to see if mileage is included in the price. And negotiate. The rates quoted aren't necessarily carved in stone, especially in this economy.

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