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They Said I Was Too Expensive…Then They Hired Me Anyway

I was surprised, to say the least.

I had been working for this customer for well over two years, and suddenly they were questioning my pricing?

Nothing had changed with me. I still charged the same rate with the same trip charge.

Yet, there I sat, staring at my computer, reading an e-mail from a shocked customer who was upset about their bill.

“Was there a mistake with the invoice?” They asked. “What are these extra trip charges for?” and “Can you please call us to discuss this?”

Luckily, I’ve been doing this for a while, so it wasn’t a huge deal. I knew it was just a simple misunderstanding and as long as I didn’t get emotional about it, it would be O.K.

So, that’s what I did. I called them, explained myself, and worked it out. No big deal.

But, the story doesn’t end there.

That customer still needed more work done. This time, it was a custom job, and they wanted an estimate before I got started.

Now, this was challenging for two reasons. First, I’d never done what they were asking me to do before which made it difficult to estimate.

The second challenge was the psychological pressure they put on me by questioning my pricing on the last job.

I didn’t want to bid too high and lose the customer forever. But, I also didn’t want to underbid because I know how much I’m worth and I have no interest in working for free.

So, I put together my estimate, stayed strong with my pricing, and sent it over via e-mail…

…and…crickets. They didn’t respond.

After a couple of weeks, I figured I had lost the customer. And it got me thinking, maybe I was too expensive? Do I need to lower my rates? Did they find somebody better?

Even though I’ve been doing this for years now and have more business than I can handle, it still caused me to question myself.

Then, two months later, guess what happened?

Out of nowhere I got an e-mail from that same customer asking me when I could start! All of that worrying was for absolutely nothing.

The Challenges of Pricing Your Services

Pricing your services is challenging for two main reasons.

The first challenge is knowing how much to charge, and there’s always a bit of interpretation involved.

The second challenge is getting over the psychological barriers that often force people to underbid. Examples would include worrying about a customer not liking you, getting a bad reputation for being too expensive, or losing the job.

This is the most difficult to overcome.

At least, I know it’s the most difficult for me and what I struggled with in the story above. I had that customer on my mind for two months, thinking that maybe I was too expensive, only to end up getting the job anyway. Talk about a waste of mental energy.

The reality is that there could be a million reasons why they took so long to get back. But, my mind went straight to the worst case scenario.

Luckily, I’ve been doing this for a few years, otherwise I would have buckled under the pressure and lowered my rates – and my profits in the process.

How To Overcome Pricing Challenges

Most people would give you advice like “have confidence” or “stick to your guns.”

This is great. But unfortunately, you can’t just go to the store and pick up some confidence off the shelf. Confidence is a result of knowledge and preparation.

Here’s what I recommend instead.

The first step is to have a profitable pricing strategy that allows you to generate a healthy profit and income. Understanding how much you MUST charge to make a profit is critical. Without this, nothing else matters.

Then, once you know how much you need to charge, the secret to getting over the psychological challenges is to…

….be willing to walk away.

If you desperately NEED every customer that comes your way, you’ll be powerless with your pricing. All the positive self-talk and rationalization won’t do much for you.

When customers are scarce, pricing is scary.

On the other hand, if you have plenty of customers coming in, there’s a switch that flips in your mind. It’s like the fear gets turned off, or at least turned down, and you suddenly feel more confident. Losing a jobs here and there isn’t a big deal.

An abundance of customers allows you to test higher rates, become more profitable, and it has the additional benefit of being able to work for better clients.

So, if you are struggling with pricing – maybe it’s your marketing that needs some work.

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  • Stanley McCall March 3, 2016

    Hi Dan,
    A timely article. I don’t normally do fixed price quotes because I never get the jobs and it is just a waste of my time however because I am not too busy just now I went over and looked at a job, checked out the price of material and gave her a fixed price for the job.
    That was two weeks ago and I haven’t heard back from her. I know how much I need to earn to stay in business and I will not play the price game.

    • Dan Perry March 3, 2016

      Ya, that definitely happens. Have you ever tried following up when you don’t hear from them? In this story I didn’t follow up because of the awkward pricing situation, but in most cases it makes sense to.

  • Tony King March 3, 2016

    Thanks for the article (and the confidence boost!). I’m curious, do you make it a point to follow up on your estimate, to make sure the customer received it and/or if they have any questions. If so, how soon after sending? I do, mostly for feedback on the quote. I’d also like to think it helps to secure a job if the customer is on the fence about getting other quotes or using another provider. That said, I also worry if it comes off as pushy or desperate? in your article above I noticed you didn’t hear anything for over two weeks, so I’m assuming you may not do a follow up call/email. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks again! Love you site!

    • Dan Perry March 3, 2016

      Hey Tony,

      Great question. I would definitely recommend following up. I just didn’t on this one because I got busy.

      I don’t think following up is pushy at all. You spent your valuable time to give a quote, you deserve a response.

      As far as when to follow up, that depends on a lot of things. The easiest way to determine that is by asking the customers when you can expect to hear back from them when you submit the quote. Then, if you don’t hear back, follow up.

  • Faith March 3, 2016

    Great article! My husband is a handyman, and I assist him with his marketing and paperwork. We often have the same experience: people request quotes, sit on them for a month, and then email us asking when he can start.

    You have to be willing to stick to your guns about your pricing and be confident enough to value yourself for your many skills. This means that you’ll “lose” business… but if you think about it, if someone isn’t willing to pay you a living wage, that was never really “business” anyway. It was just someone who wanted your work for free.

    The good clients are willing and able to pay extra for quality craftsmanship. They also tend to be nicer and more appreciative! Setting your prices at a fair rate weeds out most of the unpleasant and unappreciative people, and in the long run it makes for a much more satisfying career.

    • Dan Perry March 3, 2016

      Very well put, Faith. Thanks for sharing that. I think we’ve all learned those lessons the hard way. Hopefully those who read this will learn them the easy way!

    • Jim Copenhaver October 6, 2016

      Awesome advice by “Faith” above. She really gets it. If a customer complains about the price and hangs up, they have actually done you a huge favor. They just were not your customer and that’s fine. In five minutes someone could call with a two or three-day project right up your alley that doesn’t complain about your price at all. These type of people are generally much happier and more pleasant to deal with.

      Some people will not pay for a quote to save their lives. (we charge $38.00 to come out and give an onsite proposal) “Why should I pay for a quote when 5 other people are willing to do it for free” they say. Those people are simply not your customers and it’s a great indication of how they will be through the entire project. We tell them we totally understand and that there are many companies that will provide a free quote. We also get MAJOR feedback on other company’s just never showing up for that “free” proposal. Or the free proposal handyman will come out and do a walk through with the customer and never be heard from again! We hear this story constantly. When someone is willing to pay for a quote you know they are serious about their project and, are most likely ready to move forward with someone.

      I can tell Faith has answered a few phones and has a good understanding of sticking to your guns when it comes to pricing. Thanks for sharing Faith.

      Dan, still loving the blog! Please keep em coming!


      • Dan Perry October 9, 2016

        Hey Jim,

        It’s great to hear from you! Sounds like you are really dialing in your business and doing well. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.


  • Marty March 3, 2016

    Anyone have any experience with handyman type services in Michigan? Mostly questions about needing to be licenses? No clear answers on this yet. Thanks

    • Dan Perry March 3, 2016

      Have you been on the Michigan contractor’s board website? That is where the laws should be posted.

  • Mark Snapp March 3, 2016

    Well, I’m actually getting leads from my online presence, after a couple of months, and after going through the Handyman Web Academy. It’s awesome! I was able to put together a quick bid on a window seat, which I didn’t get (yet), and I’ve done three other jobs for good money. 3-to-1 ratio, and I’m already more profitable than ever. Really, though, the ratio is irrelevant, as long as I’m busy with work. It’s such a simple formula: Good marketing + healthy pricing = BETTER JOBS! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Dan Perry March 3, 2016

      That’s great to hear, Mark! Thanks for sharing this. Your formula is brilliant. I might have to steal it…haha.

  • John Grega March 3, 2016

    Great article, as usual. I’m three years into the business and I’m still always adjusting, correcting and researching my pricing. One thing I’ve noticed is I actually WANT to lose a few jobs to price. I feel If I’m getting almost every single job or the customer is signing the contract immediately, I’m probably priced WAY too low. If the customer takes a day or two or I’m getting push back on the cost, then I feel Im in the ballpark where the job should be priced.

    • Dan Perry March 3, 2016

      Thanks John! I totally agree. If you aren’t getting turned down on a regular basis, it’s a good sign you should be charging more.

  • John Baute March 3, 2016


    This article is just what I needed! Pretty down on myself I bid and received a job for installing laminate hardwood flooring and figure it would take me 2 days…. Well it has taken 4! I knew it would be longer but i was too ambitious. This was an awesomely painful learning experience. Apparently I learn best the hard way!

    I know from now on to stick to my guns and figure more time and keep my price up.

  • Fred March 3, 2016

    Thanks Dan,
    I’m wrestling with these very issues myself. We cant afford to give our experience and labor away. I have spent thousands and 5 years of prep just to get into operation. Your pod cast has been an inspiration to me and the advise you and your guests shared has been invaluable. It is an emotional roller coaster for sure but i’m convinced that getting to the right customers for the right pay is the only way to stay in business.

  • Tim Sellers March 4, 2016

    I’m very disappointed that you haven’t made any attemp to contact me. You have my email address. It’s been several months now since I last wrote you. I’m still waiting on you to respond.

    • Dan Perry March 4, 2016


      Please understand that I get a lot of e-mail and sometimes some slip through the cracks. If you need a response, send me another e-mail.


  • Bobby March 4, 2016

    I normally email my bids after I have visited the customer & end the email with ” If you have any questions please call or email me. If I don’t hear back, no big deal. I just move on.

  • Richard de Beer March 4, 2016

    Great article, I’ve been doing this for about 2 years. I have never advertised and haven’t had the time to get my web page up. I am constantly busy from refurals. I never give a confirmed quote. I let them know exactly what the materials cost is and just give a daily rate for doing the job. This shows them they can trust you. 9 times out of 10, I get the job.
    I long for down time so I can work on my own house, mow the lawn etc.

    • Dan Perry March 4, 2016

      Are you charging a healthy rate? 9 out of 10 jobs is a lot. I hope you aren’t undervaluing your time.

  • Tony Richardson March 5, 2016

    Re Richard de Beer and Dans comment above –
    If you are winning 9 out of 10 bids Richard, you are bidding too low (IMHO). I try to get about 7 or 8 wins out of 10 quotes. I’ve found I get more income overall and have more free time! Sounds nuts but has worked for me. AND I avoid the difficult tight-wads out there.

  • Erik Story March 6, 2016

    I’m curious whether any of you who DO advertise list your rates in your ads.
    I’m finishing up my first 12 months as a handyman. I started out by doing an ad on Craigslist. To my surprise, even though there were about a million other handymen and contractors on there (so many that my ad would get pushed off the first page in about an hour), I got plenty of calls and jobs from the ads. By my ninth month in business I was getting so many repeat customers (and a some referrals) that I was able to raise my rates by about 20% and stop advertising. But after about three months of absolute crazine$$, I now find myself in a slow period again and need to start generating more work. I’m sure these are just the ebbs and flows of a new business, and I’m fine with that. I will soon take a serious look at my marketing and implement more of Dan’s strategies such as a website. But for now, I want more work. I can’t ignore the fact that I have basically built my business on free CL advertising. Having said all of that, I absolutely hate taking calls, texts, and emails generated by my CL ad. Why? Because I hate having my time wasted. To me, time is either money or being able to hang out with my son or just read or goof around. While some calls have obviously turned into great customers, and other calls were serious but I just didn’t get the job, most are a waste of time — price-shopping, or looking for someone who must come over right away, or wanting a free estimate, or worst of all, a zillion back-and-forth questions (on email or text), then setting an appointment with me, then cancelling or otherwise flaking out. Usually, it seems, the time-wasting is directly related to my prices. I will not lower them (thanks, Dan, for months ago giving me the confidence to raise my prices and stick to my guns and be willing to walk away). So that leads me to: why not just mention my rates in the CL ad? Wouldn’t that keep away most of the lowballers? Or will it somehow stop people from contacting me altogether? Would those great customers that I now have been turned off by seeing my prices? I guess I could experiment with this, because as I said a CL ad is off the first page quickly, so no permanent damage will be done. Have any of you listed your pricing in your advertising? What are your thoughts on this as a strategy? Thanks.

    • Tony Richardson March 9, 2016

      Hi Erik Story,
      Good question about publicised rates. I’d always thought it was madness … until I stumbled across a very rich English plumber called Charlie Mullins who owns Pimlico Plumbers. He is very upfront about costs. I nearly wet myself when I read what he charges. Have a look here:
      His LOWEST rate translates to US$149 per hour! And he gets about 70% repeat business.
      What a great way to weed out the tire-kickers and time wasters. I still haven’t done it myself but I’m very very tempted.
      Tony from Australia

      • Erik Story March 11, 2016

        Thanks, Tony. It’s funny, we know prices (or at least the asking prices) on nearly everything but services. If I were shopping for a house or a car or a bag of peanuts, at least I know what the seller wants and it’s up to me to decide whether to bargain the seller down or move on to the next seller. I’ve noticed a few handyman or other tradespeople who mention their visit charge or hourly rate in the heading of their ad. It seems worth a try. I just had another week of price-shoppers calling me from my Craigslist ad although I did manage to convert a few to paying customers.

  • Rolly April 12, 2016

    Dan, as always, great information! I just recently gave an estimate of $500 for a job and the customer called me to say replied “Too high!” and that he thought more like $300 – $350. I explained that my pricing is very fair and middle of the road. Additionally, I assured him that the quality and craftsmanship of my work is exceptional. To give him some further peace of mind I provided him with links to 2 websites that provide pricing for the type of work he wanted me to do. A few hours later he called back to say I’m hired. I’m working on the job as of this post. Thanks again, Dan.

  • Edu June 11, 2016

    Hello Dan

    I’m just starting this business in UK which sometimes is difficult for me (I´m Spanish), last couple of weeks I have done at least 3 quotes spending much of my time, two of them don´t even bother to reply, you see viable to charge for making large quotes?

    Thank you so much, your blog is helping me a lot

    • Dan Perry June 11, 2016

      Hey Eduardo,

      Unless your schedule is filled already I would NOT recommend charging for quotes. However, I would recommend following up after a few days to see if they have any questions and even get feedback on the quote.

  • John June 14, 2016

    Hey Dan i’m very new to bidding jobs. I have worked on my own for an hourly wage and I have been an hourly “employee” for years. I’m tired of the crap i have to deal with and being underpayed for my service. I want to get serious. i have a job for a 2 window replacements. I have never actually bid on these before and kind of need the job to get going. I have a full time job as an employee but do not see myself being very successful in life as this. I have a ton of skill and work very hard. I feel like i’m shorting myself everyday. I don’t know what to do? Please help me out if you are able to. I really want to get going with making my life enjoyable. Thank you.

    • Dan Perry June 15, 2016


      If you haven’t already, I would recommend picking up a copy of the $100k Handyman. You can find it in the “products” tab at the top of the page in the navigation bar. That will give you the necessary insight you need to price your services properly.

      The next thing I will say is that you have to be willing to lose some jobs – otherwise you will never charge enough for your services.

      Visit this page and go through this process as well: http://www.handymanstartup.com/figure-hourly-rate/


  • Julie June 15, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    I’m really glad you shared this article on pricing. I am Co owner of our handyman business. My partner is the main handyman and he and I don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to agreeing on what we should charge our clients. He is very economicically sympathetic and feels that we should have lower rates than I feel we should have. Although I am no handyman myself I know good talent when I see it. My partner is highly skilled in all aspects of contracting work. He wears many hats and is a master of them all. I have been trying to convince him that his twenty years of building his skills as a handyman is worth a lot more than he wants to charge. He is a little insecure and very humble. Me on the other hand, I don’t believe in settling for mediocrity. I deal with all the marketing, scheduling, client correspondence and all other administrative aspects of the business. I see my partner as the primary product I am trying to sell when I advertise. How do I persuade him to accept that he is way more valuable than he thinks. We are at the point now where we can afford to not win every job we give a quote for, and are sometime relieved when a client decides to move on to someone else. I feel that now is the perfect time to raise our rates and sell our selves at a price that is competitive and appropriate for this business. So I was really glad to read this article and gain some insight on this very topic. Do you have any advice you could give me or my partner that would help him to better understand the importance of not selling ourselves short? I’d love your feedback. Thanks, Dan.

    • Dan Perry June 15, 2016

      Hi Julie,

      My best advice I have for the subject is covered in depth in my ebook: “The $100K Handyman.”

      But basically, if you don’t charge enough, your business isn’t sustainable – and you aren’t really doing your customers a favor because you won’t be able to provide a good service if you can’t afford the tools, systems, and people to support your business.

  • Mike June 25, 2016

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the article. I’m also new to the handyman business after getting laid off from my full time job.
    I just finished a job of completing a bathroom remodel after the previous contractor didn’t show up for six months. I ran into a ton of issues, and my labor ended up being almost twice as much as I initially quoted. So, I adjusted the invoice accordingly. Should I have done that, or stuck to my original quote?
    Thanks for the input,


  • First Food Machinery July 20, 2016

    great article dan,


  • Dave Bergin August 2, 2016

    Do you know what kind of license i need to be a handyman in the state of Florida? the city and county government here can not give me a straight answer.

  • Ken September 27, 2016

    Hi Dan, I am really enjoying this website so far, lots of useful info. I’m in the process of getting a handy man service going. I currently work full time as an electrical maintenance man but am ready to work hard and make a decent living, one of the comments above reminded me of a question I’ve been trying to figure out. Should I charge for showing up to a quote? Allot of the contractors around here do free quotes and I was a little nervous about charging $20 to just show up to estimate the job. An answer on what I should do would be great. Thanks dan


    • Dan Perry September 27, 2016

      You can always test it to see what happens. However, your best bet when you are first getting started is to offer free quotes. That way you will get in front of as many people as possible. Will some of them waste your time? Yes, they will. But, that’s just a right of passage. You need to learn who are the time wasters and who are the profitable customers. You can’t learn that by trying to filter them before you experience them.

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