Yesterday I asked if someone would get a haircut from a bald barber. Today I would like to outline my methodology for selecting professionals who will be providing me with important products and/or services.
You can't do everything by yourself. Sooner or later you will need help from a professional. Or maybe you want help for things you simply don't want to do yourself.
There are tasks that I am fully capable of doing but they hold no interest for me.
Dry cleaning is one example. I have the skills to wash/dry/iron pants and shirts, but I have no interest. I consider it a waste of time. It is worth it to me to take the clothes to the dry cleaners.
Another example is an oil change. Yes, I can perform an oil change on my car if I get all the supplies that would be needed. But I consider the expense, and more importantly the time when making the decision. It is worth it to me to take my car to a service center for an oil change and any other maintenance.
Then there are tasks that I currently do not have the skills/experience needed to do them effectively. My choice is to either learn the skills and get the experience to do these tasks myself or hire a professional.
Here are some examples in which I have decided to hire a professional: a physician, an attorney, a tax accountant, a certified financial planner.
In each of these cases, I started with a lot of research. You want the professional who specializes in your specific circumstances. A corporate tax attorney may not be the best choice for your personal tax return. There is a huge difference between a broker and a fiduciary when it comes to financial advice. Even physicians vary wildly in terms of specialization and philosophy.
I also like to ask close friends for recommendations. If someone already has a positive experience with a professional, this is a step in the right direction. For example, this is how I selected a certified financial planner.
Even with a recommendation and lots of research, it's still possible that I made the wrong choice. I recently selected a new physician and quickly realized after meeting with him that it was not a good fit. This is the most important part of the vetting process--the interview.
There is no substitute for interacting with the professional in person (or Skype) for a full assessment. I prepare questions before the meeting so that I leave no stone unturned. I approach this interview with cautious optimism and a hint of skepticism.
Finally, you have to be willing to change professionals when they are no longer meeting your needs or your circumstances have changed. It is difficult to start all over again with someone new. But familiarity or inertia is no excuse to continue doing business with someone who is no longer meeting your needs.
Time is more valuable than money. I am vigilant about how I spend my time, and I like to use leverage by delegating certain tasks to professionals. I hope that you will consider where is the best use of your time. If you choose to hire professionals, consider some of these points to make the right decision.