I get a lot of e-mails from readers who are interested in starting a handyman business, but have a few roadblocks holding them back. The roadblock are usually unanswered questions or assumptions based on bad information.
There is a lot of bogus information out on the Internet today. In this post, I’m going to address 3 Myths that I believe hold a lot of people back from the the freedom and fulfillment of owning a handyman business. I’ll show you why these myths just aren’t true and how I’ve proved it with my own business.
If you are thinking about starting a handyman business but still aren’t sure, read this.
Myth #1: You need to know how to do everything.
Many people believe that in order to start a handyman service, they need to know how to do everything. Plumbing, electrical, HVAC, door repairs, appliance repairs, you name it.
This is simply not true! Nobody knows how to do everything. Every handyman runs into issues that he can’t fix. Every handyman has customers ask for work that he or she is uncomfortable doing. It happens to me all the time.
The truth is that you can be very profitable by offering limited services. Take a trash removal service for example. All they do is drive to a home, fill up their truck with trash, and haul it to the dump. Another example is a garage door repair specialist. All they do is fix garage doors and make quite a bit of money doing it. Some handyman businesses out there only do simple maintenance and take care of To-Do lists. Stuff like changing out light bulbs, replacing faucets, patching up paint, and hanging pictures.
If this is something that is holding you back, I recommend going through the short exercise in this post to determine which service you can start offering right away.
I got started with very little experience and just learned as much as I could along the way. Each time I was faced with a new type of job, I would get online and do a few minutes of research. I’d check out 3 or 4 videos on YouTube, read some forums, and get an overall feel for how to approach a project. I’d then apply my own common sense to the job. Sure, there were challenging times, but that just made it that much more fulfilling when I finished the job.
Sometimes a customer would ask me to do work that I had no idea how to do. In those cases, I would simply state that I don’t have a lot of expereience with that type of work and I’d recommend that they go with a specialist. This actually gained a lot of trust with my customers.
Benefits of not knowing everything
Being faced with challenges everyday forces you to learn, which is good for your brain. Your brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised.
Not only is it good for your brain, but solving problems is a huge confidence booster. It feels great to solve a customers problem and then get paid for it.
Being faced with unique challenges also keeps the job interesting. You’ll never be doing the same mundane task all day as with most desk jobs.
Myth #2: Small jobs aren’t profitable
I’ve had several people come to me with concerns of job size and If I wish I could do larger jobs. Here are my thoughts. You can make more money on larger jobs simply because you are working for 8 hours at a time instead of 1-3. However, larger jobs usually require more work and are more stressful than doing several small jobs each day.
If you believe small jobs aren’t profitable, then you either aren’t charging enough or your service area is too large.
My interview with Steve, a handyman that has been in the business for 20 years is a valid example. In fact, he actually prefers small jobs like replacing a garbage disposal or changing out a kitchen faucet. He can go knock out 3 or 4 quick $75-$100 jobs by driving a few blocks down the road and then spend the rest of the day doing something fun.
One thing to consider is that Steve limits his service area to a only a few miles and has a minimum charge of $75 – 2 critical decisions that make, instead of break, his business model.
Benefits of small jobs
Small jobs are less stressful than larger construction jobs. For one, you don’t need any help so you don’t have to deal with hiring employees. Secondly, they usually aren’t very complex. This is a good thing when trying to estimate how long something will take.
Small jobs are great for all those people that think they have ADD. If you get bored easy, you probably wont’ be doing a small job long enough to actually get bored. Additionally, if you offer a wide range of services, you are always changing it up with unique jobs and a variety of customers. This helps keep things interesting and challenging.
Myth #3: Charging by the job is the ONLY way to charge.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Any handyman that you talk to that has been doing this for more than 5 years will tell you that charging by the job is the only way to go. They’ll also explain that they started charging hourly and lost a lot of money because of it.
I have to agree. You can make more money charging by the job because as you get more efficient you can do jobs faster and increase your hourly rate significantly without having to tell your customer that you charge more.
BUT, and this is important, these same handyman don’t remember what it’s like getting started. They’ve been doing it for so long that they know how long things take, how much materials cost, and consequently, how much to charge. They don’t seem to remember that they charged hourly for a reason, and that was because they lacked experience.
Since I started my handyman business, I have been experimenting with both charging methods and believe that charging hourly can be better for someone that is new to this business.
In fact, you’ll probably make more money charging hourly in the beginning because things always take longer than you think. I’ve bid on several jobs that ended up taking me twice as long as expected and I lost money because of this lack of experience.
Benefits of working by the hour
Saves time quoting customers. You can eliminate visiting a customer to provide a quote. Also, you don’t have to sit and think about everything that goes into the job. You can just get started and be payed for the time you are figuring things out.
It also eliminates a lot of stress and allows you to focus on promoting yourself and growing your business.
By setting a solid hourly rate right away, you can confidently tell anybody that you talk to exactly how much to charge. This eliminates one of the barriers customers have to get over to hire you. If they know how much you charge before they call, they are pretty much ready to hire you. If not, that is one more thing the customer has to figure out before they make their decision. Depending on your hourly rate, you’ll likely eliminate working with many waste-your-time customers.
Need help setting your prices? Check out “The $100K Handyman” – a guide to pricing your services for maximum profit and customer satisfaction (even when just getting started).