Going with independent contractors...?
That is interesting. Just after I decided to go into appliance repair (after 2008 collapse) I heard that Sears was laying off appliance salespeople and hiring repair techs. Matter of fact, I went to one of their hiring meets in the Bay Area. They were interviewing quite a few people, and there were quite a few of these events scheduled around the bay.
Everyone got interviewed, but the ones that didn't pass the test got a brush-off interview by HR Drones. There were two tests: One was personality - pretty obvious questions to see if you'd play nice with others. "T/F? I sometimes speak without thinking when angry or irritated." "It is ok to steal from your employer when they: A) Make you mad. B) Have lots of stuff. C) Change your schedule. D) It is never ok to steal from your employer.
The electrical test had questions about using a voltmeter and which side of the socket should be the common. I don't remember much else about it, but it was pretty basic. They promised training. I got a real interview, but I never got a call back because (I think) they did not like the fact that my appliance repair experience was in my own business. She asked if I'd keep trying to get my own customers while working for them, and I said no, I was tired of getting my own customers...that's why I was talking to them now. I don't think she bought it. I was more interested in any training they'd offer, but I never found out what that'd be.
Anyway, it is a bit strange that they'd go on a hiring binge, then turn around an go the other way. But I hear the company is basically owned by a hedge fund. Those don't look much beyond the next quarter's forecasts from what I hear. The one that owned Mervyn's loaded it up with debt, transferred the real estate assets to another entity, paid fat distributions to the stockholders and let it go into bankruptcy. Doesn't seem that'd be legal to me, but maybe high finance is very close to three-card monte. I some how doubt that one can get too much money by being scrupulously honest and dealing fair with everybody.
I can't see how Sears can do the contracting with independents on that scale. They'd still need their scheduling infrastructure, and that doesn't seem to be working too well at the moment. Would independents want their name involved with that level of service? The only cost savings I can see would be in the employee related costs for techs, and in the cutting out of the service managers. Are independents going to fix Sears stuff for $14-17/hr? Would they even do it for $40/hour with out the parts margin? Seems sketchy to me.
But then again, I'm not a hedge fund. I am independent, though, and I am not likely to entertain offers from the big boys to jump through their hoops, play their games, get paid their prices, and worry about keeping them happy, all while paying for my own insurance, retirements, vehicles, computers, bookkeeping, and advertising.
I'd just as soon they'd go bust.