With this post I’d like to shed some light on what the best vehicle for a handyman business is. More specifically, a one man handyman business.
There are three common options to choose from: a van, a truck, or a truck and trailer. I’ve heard several people say a van is hands down the best and others that wouldn’t drive anything but a pickup. I’ve also heard of people using a small trailer to store their equipment.
Personally, I drive a 2006 Nissan Titan king cab equipped with a low profile AWS truck box in the back for extra storage. I love this truck and it’s treated me very well.
If you are new the handyman business, the best vehicle for you is probably the one you already have. Getting a new truck or van right off the bat will add a lot of additional financial stress that you just don’t need when your starting up.
I’ve even seen a handyman that drove a Honda Pilot. I actually watched this guy rebuild an entire fence for my neighbor by taking small loads of wood with his Pilot. Definitely not ideal, but it shows that you can make just about anything work if necessary. Check out the image below if you don’t know what it looks like.
I remember when I first started my business, I was concerned on whether or not I’d be able to work out of my truck efficiently. I started with a 2006 Nissan Titan king cab that was completely stock. No toolboxes in the back or anything. I would just throw whatever tools I needed for the job I was doing and head out.
Since then the only upgrade I’ve made is the addition of an UWS low profile toolbox. I’ve considered adding a rack so I can carry longer lumber, but so far I’ve found this as a nice to have and not a need to have.
However, I’m still undecided. What is the best overall vehicle?
Below I’ve written out the pros and cons of each type of vehicle to help shed some light. Check it out and Let me know what you think is best in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Truck, Van, or Truck with Trailer?
- Good gas mileage – at least compared to other options.
- Looks good – Trucks look cool, vans don’t.
- Good Ride – I like the way a truck drives better than a top heavy van and I drive a lot.
- You can leave the chemicals in the back and not have to smell them while driving.
- Can park in most home garages.
- Versatility – you can haul just about anything you would need to as a handyman.
- Easy to load lumber.
- Easy to clean.
- Can use as a personal vehicle as well.
- Tools and supplies are less accessible than a van.
- Whatever is in the back is open to the elements. If you live somewhere that rains all the time, this could really suck.
- limited space for branding.
- Any tools in the bed are susceptible to theft.
A pickup truck has a lot of advantages, but the lack of storage and access to tools and supplies is a serious downer. Also, if you live somewhere that rains, driving a pickup would be pain in the ass. You could get a camper shell to remedy this, but this will likely limit you in other ways.
- Tons of Storage.
- Better for organizing supplies and tools.
- Excellent for branding/advertising. Pretty much a driving billboard.
- Easier access to tools.
- Tool Security.
- Keeps everything out of the elements.
- Can’t park in most home garages. (with ladder on roof)
- Typically get bad gas mileage.
- Not ideal for trips to the dump.
- Limited room for lumber.
- You are in the same air space as whatever chemicals you are carrying.
Clearly, a vans strength is in the amount of shit you can carry. I well stocked van is pretty much a mini hardware store. Everything has a place and you never have to stop and think about what tools you need before you go because they’re already loaded. I can also see a van be extremely efficient during work because everything would be easier to access.
Truck and Trailer
- Workshop on wheels
- Ability to stand up inside
- Excellent for branding/advertising
- Good for dump loads
- Easily load lumber.
- Can haul larger items.
- Requires a place to store it.
- Gas Mileage
- Extra maintenance required.
A truck and trailer pretty much has it all, but it comes with the price of being difficult to maneuver. When you are driving to 3 houses in one day, you have to park the it several times and access to a house isn’t always great. This disadvantage alone makes me not even consider pulling a trailer.
One nice thing about having a trailer is that you can have it heavily branded with vinyl decals and leave your truck stock. This way you can drive your truck on personal time without having “handyman services” written all over it.
For what I do, I think I’ll stick to a truck for my handyman business. I believe it has the most advantages and doesn’t really limit the services that I offer. When I’m hauling stain, epoxies, or other chemicals, I can throw it in the back and not have to inhale the fumes. If I’m loading several sheets of plywood like I did last week, I can easily throw them in the back of the truck. Storage for small tools and hardware is a bit of an issue and my truck tends to get pretty messy by the end of the day, but I’m pretty sure a van would get just as disorganized.
Of course, this is only my opinion.
What do you think? Describe what you feel is the optimal setup for a handyman business in the comments below.