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5 Reasons To Specialize With Your Handyman Business

Are you offering too many services in your handyman business?

Or, are you thinking about getting started but aren’t sure if you have enough skills yet?

What if I told you that by only offering a few services you can actually be more profitable and significantly simplify your business?

The most common handyman business model is what I call the “big or small, we do it all” model, which is how I originally started my business.  This is a great model if you love to solve new problems and do a variety of projects.

The problem is that it’s a difficult to scale this model, and it’s often not as profitable as it could be due to it’s complexity.

The alternative is to choose a niche, or specialize in one or more specific services and focus on those.  From a marketing and business standpoint, this actually makes more sense.  Not only can this simplify your business, specializing can be more profitable.

Here are 7 reasons why you might want to specialize.

#1 – Expert Positioning

When you specialize, you automatically position yourself as an expert.

When customers are looking for a specific repair, installation, or improvement to their home, they crave an expert.  Wealthy clients especially.  They aren’t looking for some weekend handyman who can “probably figure it out.”  They want somebody that’s like “THIS IS WHAT I DO!”

For example, one of the services I specialize in is TV wall mount installation.  It’s one of the main services I promote to gain new clients.  Simply promoting this service has positioned me as an expert.

The funny thing is that as soon as I’m done mounting a TV, customers will often ask “do you offer other services or do you just mount TVs?”  I love when I hear this because I know that my marketing worked.  Despite the fact that I am a handyman and I do all kinds of services, they see me as a TV wall mounting expert.  That’s why I got the business.

I’m sure that most handymen wall mount TVs, but because I promote the service and specialize in it, the customer’s often choose me.

#2 – Higher Income Potential

By specializing you can demand a higher hourly rate while still remaining competitive with your pricing.  This is true for a couple of reasons.

One, it positions you as an expert as mentioned above and people will pay more for experts.

Two, you get more efficient at the service so you can get it done in less time.

Three, you can charge flat rate pricing or even create pricing packages if you bundle services.  You can do this without specializing, but it gets complicated.  Flat rate pricing is ideal, especially if you are efficient and free quotes aren’t eating up your extra profit.

#3 – Higher Conversions

If you’re marketing online (which who isn’t) whether it’s with craigslist, your website, or the online directories, you will have higher conversions if you specialize.  (By higher conversions, I mean that a higher percentage of people that see your ad will call you.)

By specializing you become highly relevant to customers looking for that service.  Sure, you lose relevance on other services that you may provide, but that’s a tradeoff you must make to get the phone ringing.  Once you get in the door, you can always promote your other services (which I often do).

Example:  Let’s say a customer is looking on Craigslist for a fence repair.  They come across a few posts with the following titles:

  • “Local Handyman”
  • “$10/hr Handyman”
  • “Professional Handyman”
  • “Fence Repair Service”

Each listing offers fence repair in the body of the ad, but which one would you click on first?  It’s obvious, you’d click on the one that was most relevant to the service you were looking for: fence repair.

This scenario is true in many instances across the web.

#4 – Easier to Hire Help

Specializing makes it much easier to hire help and grow your business.

As a professional handyman, you are often challenged with a variety of problems that require creative solutions. However, you know your limitations and it’s easy for you to determine what you can or can’t take on.

Hiring somebody who’s equally skilled that you can trust is challenging.  It’s not impossible, but it’s challenging.

Typically, you will need to pay more for this level of skill.  It takes years of experience or a certain type of person to become an all around handyman.

But, if you only offer one or two basic services, it’s much easier to train somebody with less experience.  For example, if you specialize in pressure washing, you could easily train an un-skilled laborer relatively quickly freeing you up for more complex jobs or to grow your business.

#5 – Simplified Pricing

Quoting can be a serious time suck as a handyman.  As a new handyman, you’ll find yourself running all over town quoting jobs because you’re not sure you can handle them or aren’t sure what each jobs entails.

Additionally, pricing as a handyman is probably the most challenging thing to master.

Specializing almost eliminates this complexity and the need to quote in person.  If you specialize you will likely develop fixed pricing and easily be able to quote over the phone without visiting the customer’s house.

Simplified pricing also makes it easier to hire somebody to answer the phone for you, once again freeing you up to do more impactful things in your business like marketing or creating systems.

Conclusion

There are several more reasons why specializing will help you grow your business and be more profitable.  But this article is getting long.

The bottom line is this:

Whether you are just getting started or have been in business for 10 years, specializing is a great way to attract new customers, simplify your business, and make more money.

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  • Shane April 29, 2014

    Great article, it really has instilled some confidence in me. I am about to launch my business, and was originally intending to be a ‘we do it all’ type of service. Now you have me wanting to specialize, and I don’t even know what to specialize in. I’m hoping to have more clear goals once I realize what’s worth it to specialize in. Thanks Dan, your blog is very, very useful.

    • Dan Perry April 29, 2014

      Thanks Shane. Let me know what you come up with!

  • wade May 2, 2014

    Dan, as usual your articles and podcasts are incredibly informative and practical. I have been a general for 23 years working on big additions and renovations. I always offered small repairs and installs as a customer service to build the trust and relationship so that they would call me for the big project. I have switched my target marketing to small projects and can’t keep up with the work. I love the the NO stress and time it allows me. Now I only do the big projects if I like the client or if they are an existing client and I feel like doing it. Thanks

    • Dan Perry May 2, 2014

      That’s awesome to hear, wade. It sounds like the time you have spent designing your business around your lifestyle is paying off. More handymen should take notes from how you approach the business.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • PATRICK FEARICK May 4, 2014

    I don’t know. I find myself doing different types of jobs everyday and I prefer it that way. I know my limits and have been very profitable as of late. To me doing the same shit everyday becomes a drag. I think its a pride thing, to be a well rounded technician that’s skilled in many different areas. Also Ive found that in my area theres a huge demand for a guy who can come in and bang out the “to do list”, ie. fix tile, drywall, plumbing leaks, change receptacles, install fixtures, patch concrete, paint, ect.

    • Dan Perry May 4, 2014

      Good point, Patrick. It’s great to hear that you are making good money and thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • Michael Tuttle February 4, 2016

      “ect” is an incorrect abbreviation. You are abbreviating the words et cetera. etc. is the correct abbreviation. I see this almost as often as when folks use the words loose, instead of LOSE and then, rather than THAN. People just follow what they see others do, sometimes, even when it’s wrong. Nothing personal. Just my own observation.

      • Dan Perry February 4, 2016

        Thanks for the correction, looks like it was just a typo.

  • Eric K. October 9, 2014

    I’ve also started phasing out certain types of services myself. I won’t go up on roofs or crawl under houses anymore. I don’t attempt to do crown molding anymore. I won’t pour concrete slabs or replace old grout in tile. I used to try to do all of these just to pick up work but I’ve discovered that there’s plenty of work in the other areas. I also phased out doing business with clients who live out of town but own rental properties locally. That has always resulted in headaches so now I have a strict policy against it. I’m trying to streamline my business model and this seems like something to definitely consider. Thanks, Dan

    • Dan Perry October 10, 2014

      This is definitely something I’ve gone through as well. In the beginning I was so hungry for work that I would do anything I thought I could handle. Now, my customers are put through a series of questions before I’ll even consider the job! Total shift in mindset, but definitely for the better. I’m a strong believer that if you don’t like/profit from what you are doing, then you shouldn’t do it.

  • Jumpy Joey December 17, 2014

    Great article, and so glad I stumbled across your blog(s). I will start following your work. I specialize in something kind of unique. I run a trampoline sales and assembly company. Talk about niche, I’m the only company in the US running my business model, and successfully at that. I get calls for playgrounds, basketball goals, workout equipment, etc…., but I turn them down. It’s not what I do. It’s not what I know. I know how long a trampoline assembly takes me, and I have set pricing (which can change depending on distance or other variables). For me to take on a wooden swing that I’ve never seen, could take me a day or more, and I can’t work like that when I already have enough business in what I specialize in. We’ve been able to open up a showroom in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex where we carry very high end trampolines. I run a successful ecommerce site where I can sell nationwide as well. We do a lot of inground trampolines as well. I’m aware that anyone can copy me at this point, as I’ve only been doing it 3 years, however, they’re up against a hill that I’ve created. I’m easily found online just about anywhere with the keyword trampoline attached, and I’ve got 3 years of customers that use me often when they move or wish to upgrade, etc… I may sound boastful, but I’m very prideful in where I’ve gotten things currently at. I enjoy having my father as my helper as well. Next step is to begin subbing out jobs across the nation, and I believe I’ve found the software/tool to do just that. 2015 will be a good one.

    • Dan Perry December 17, 2014

      That is a great example of specializing. It’s so powerful to focus on one service and just dominate in it as you seem to have done. That’s a weird niche you’re in, but if it’s working that’s all that matters.

  • Wayne Porter February 3, 2015

    The article about specializing makes good points, but while I can make the most money selling and installing shower doors, which I have done for about nine years, I really like a variety of things to do. I realize that a do-all approach is not for everyone, but some personalities need a healthy dose of variety to keep interest in what they do.
    It does come with the headaches mentioned, and the cost of additional tools, but for me money is not everything. You have to like what you do, and as someone has said “Variety is the spice of life”, and I am one who needs a daily sprinkling.

  • Barry May 22, 2015

    Nice post Dan. I’m glad I stumbled onto your site. I’ve been agonizing over how to name my business. I’ve been a handyman on the side while working my full time job for over a year now anticipating doing it full time beginning in January of 2016. I definitely identify with having to carry every tool in the world with you because you never know what you’ll come across on the job. I had already come to the conclusion that it makes sense to specialize I just don’t yet know what that specialty will be. I’ve done everything from demo work to replacing a damaged car port roof, interior/exterior painting, minor electrical, exterior trim, and the list goes on. I don’t feel as though I have quite enough jobs under my belt to make a call on the most profitable but the interior trim/ built-ins are fun. I’ll need to make a call soon. Glad to hear I’m not alone in trying to make this call 🙂 Thanks again.

    Barry

    • Dan Perry May 25, 2015

      I think you are taking the right approach. Test the waters, get some experience, see what people are looking for, and find out what you like and are best at. The options are endless.

  • Stan McCall November 25, 2015

    Thanks for this blog post Dan. I have been turning down jobs that I don’t want to do like tile back splash, going on roofs, replacing fence posts etc. I have been in business almost 2 years now and it is time to sit down and look at the numbers.
    I have been finding that people don’t mind paying my rate for a few hours but if it is two or three days of work they balk at the cost but it is impossible to give a fixed price on a to-do lost.
    I have a question, do you list prices for specific jobs on your web site or in your advertising?

    • Dan Perry November 25, 2015

      I have done a few tests with posting pricing as a deterrent for tired kickers calling me. However, I still got calls from people finding me on other online assets that didn’t know my pricing. I typically don’t post pricing on any ads, but that’s not because I think it’s a bad idea. In some cases, for like specific jobs like TV wall mounts, I think posting pricing is a good idea.

  • Dave February 4, 2016

    It’s a tough one for me. Hence the long reply!
    If I have no employees and I can be really quite free with my time, and I really like that.
    But on the other hand there are times when working on my own is exhausting, especially now I’m getting a bit older.

    I have a niche in mind and can see how it would be a lot easier to scale up that niche and probably make good money.

    But I also know from experience that bringing in employees and scaling things up brings some headaches and I’d definitely lose the quite casual way I go about things nowadays.

    At the moment I get up drink some tea, roll out about 9.30am and do maybe 6 or 7 hours work at a pretty decent rate. I’m not getting super rich off it, but it’s not particularly stressful either. I have all my tools at hand in a fantastic sprinter van.

    If I employ a full time employee then I’d probably have to roll out the door at 7.30 and forget the 6 or 7 hours, more like 8 or 9…… 10?

    Probably more $ in pocket but more stress, more work.

    I thought about maybe just keeping my business a one man show with occasional helper as it is – then adding something thats a profitable niche to it like pressure washing.

    But realistically when the pressure washing is done and they ask “hey do you know a painter”? and then I say “hey, I’m a painter..” they say “do you also do carpentry too, we need that fixed before we can paint” of course I’d say yes and then next thing I’d need to hire people and round and round it goes.

    To hire or not to hire?

    • Dan Perry February 4, 2016

      I totally understand, it’s a tough decision.

      How well have you optimized your business for just you? I’m betting that you can increase your income by 20% by just streamlining your processes.

      But, if you want to go bigger than that…

      I would try promoting a very basic service that requires few tools and basic knowledge, then start off hiring somebody part time to take that over once you start generating enough leads for it. Then, slowly build up from there. The idea of working 10 hours a day sounds pretty terrible so I would ease into it.

  • Michael Tuttle February 4, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    Excellent advice, as always. I have mounted a few flat screens over the years and really enjoy that, as you seem to, as well. I would like to just do that, mostly, too. My concern is hooking up other kinds of equipment/devices along with the mounting and I’m not real knowledgeable about that. I have hooked up my own surround system, DVD player, etc., but my experience is limited. Just throw myself into the fire and adapt? How did you make the transition? And what obstacles did you encounter? Thanks!

    • Dan Perry February 4, 2016

      I think that you should promote that service and see what people ask for, rather than try to get all prepared and offer them stuff they don’t want. Then you’ll know what you need to learn and you can learn as you go.

  • Christian Morales February 10, 2016

    This article is very useful in any type of business. The most important is the identity of a business and value proposition. Also the uniqueness of business from others. The branding of a business will be built according to customer’s experience.

  • Dwain Brewer April 8, 2016

    Have not been on your site in awhile. I operated my own handyman business for 2 years, did well. A year ago wife lost her job with our benefits. At the same time I took a salary job at the mill long hours, on call, fast paced, stress and benefits. No time for side work. Sure miss running my own business, customers unable to find anybody, still getting calls. Wife unsure about us making it in business and being able to afford benefits. I see you are promoting a start up book and pricing guide and other information. Any info about small business health benefit packages or where to find best rates. Still have van, tools, and inventory. Thanks, In His Hands Handyman Services, Dwain B.

  • Richard April 30, 2016

    What is your opinion on charging a fee for proposal quotes?

  • Edward Handy May 4, 2016

    Great piece of advice! As an employee of a handyman company in Sydney, I would say that growing a business in the services niche is not a difficult task, as long as you have a decent number of customers which will hire you. To me, the best thing to do when starting a handyman business is specializing with a high-demand service. As your reputation and number of clients grow, as your portfolio of services might be enhanced. Just take notes of what your clients need done in the utmost, and provide it!

    • Mike June 25, 2016

      Hi Edward I’m thinking of starting a handyman business down here on the south coast. What sort of services do you see in high demand in Sydney?

  • Mark September 4, 2016

    Hi,
    A great read thank you so much.
    I am looking at starting a handyman business myself but a lot of things has held me back. I would like to know what type of licence or qualifications would you need to start your own handyman business??…

  • PAUL MEYERS October 15, 2016

    Great Website – Love HandyManStartup – always great stuff on here.
    Thanks for sharing – keep it up.

    Paul

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