I am a Task Rabbit evangelist. I have used them for home and for work. I love the model and I think they provide a valuable source of flexible talent for start-ups that can’t always predict what resources they need, but when they need something done, they need it done yesterday.
That being said, using Task Rabbits is not always as turn-key as it should be. After a few sub-optimal experiences, I thought I’d share my lessons learned through my most recent TR experience.
I hired a Rabbit last week to hang a 4×6 piece of Melamine Tile in my conference room to use as a white board (I have a contrator referred to me by Contact Karma working on some custom mobile boards). I am a chronic DIYer but forced myself not to do this myself for two reasons. 1) Tricky to fit into my hatchback; 2) My time is better spent trying to generate business leads. I gave the Rabbit the exact SKU to buy from the Home Depot and agreed he would show up Friday morning after he finished another task. The task was due no later than 3:30 pm on Friday. He got stuck working with a “crazy lady” in Glencoe and after a phone call and text from me, finally called at 2:30 pm to tell me he was running late. He also described what he had purchased and it was the wrong material. Even though I GAVE HIM THE SKU. After several phone calls and texts to get him another SKU from Menards and arrange a time to meet him on Saturday, he showed up with no tape measure, level or ladder. Apparently he was going to eyeball the placement. This guy had nine reviews on the task rabbit site, all completely positive. So I’ll go ahead and take responsibility and say I could set better expectations next time. Because while the model has some kinks, I still think it was the right decision to try to outsource and it’s such a simple process to find outsourced talent through Taskrabbit.com that I will keep trying.
Lessons learned for jobs that need to be done on site:
- Pick an EXACT time for the task. Tell the Rabbit you expect a phone call at least an hour in advance if he/she is running late
- Specify exactly how you want the project done. Visualize all the steps and identify opportunities for gaps. Designers would call this workflow. Picture what tools/materials the guy needs to have to complete the task and make sure to list it all out in your post if at all possible so it’s publicly viewable or at least in the email to the TR. In this example, I should have mentioned that it’s important to me to have the white board centered and level so please bring a tape measure and a level.
- Do not expect to be able to sneak peripheral tasks into the project. You are messing with the Rabbit’s ROI on his time. If you add a bunch of time to your project, TR can’t get to his next gig on time and that causes a domino effect and will make you hate Rabbits like you hate Comcast and the dryer repair guy for never coming during the window they promise. As my Rabbit put it, many customers take a fixed price for a project and make that project a mile high. Don’t do it.
- Put everything in writing. I had documented the SKU for the material and he got the wrong one. Not sure how that happened, but then I had to decide whether to reimburse him or not. If I hadn’t put it in writing, I would have felt compelled to cover the costs. I ended up splitting it with him.
- If you care about dress code (event staffing), specify what it is.
- If you want the job done in a specific amount of time, specify that as well. You would think that since the price is fixed, they’d be motivated do the job as quickly as possible so you’ll have no problem being on time for your dinner reservation. This is not always the case.
- Give them direct feedback to help improve the process/model. My Rabbit was really nice and the output of the board was as expected. But I was road-rage mad about all the time I spent dealing with him when the whole point was to save my time for generating leads and certainly not coming into the office on a Saturday!
Image credit: http://www.petinsurancecomparex.com/some-bunny-needs-rabbit-insurance/