Learn How To Start Or Grow A Handyman Business
Handyman Startup Logo

My Monthly Report – April 2013

Welcome to my April 2013 monthly report!  I write these reports at the end of each month and this one marks my 17th month in business as a handyman.

In these reports I share how much money I made in the last month, how I made that money, and anything interesting that happened in the process.  I also share quality tips to help you either start or grow your own handyman business.  I’ve been writing these reports since my second month in business so you can really get an idea of what it’s like.

If you are new to the blog, I’m not a millionaire marketing guru (far from it).  In fact, this is my first business and I still have a lot to learn.  However, I have created a solid income for myself as a handyman and I actually enjoy what I do (something not many people can say).  I do things my way and on my terms – an ability I hold in very high regard.  I woud like to help you do the same and enjoy the same level of freedom that I’ve created.  (If you’re interested)  I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s easy to do, but it is definitely worth the effort!

April was an absolutely amazing month.  I worked for some really great new customers while strengthening relationships with other customers (of course, only the ones that I want to work with).  I was even fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take a trip to Chicago for a week.  I also made some changes to the way I schedule my customers which has drastically improved my working experience.  I think you’ll like this one.

The Handyman Startup Podcast

I released my first episode about 6 weeks ago and so far it has been a hit.  Thanks to all of you that have listened and thanks especially to those of you that have left a review on iTunes.  I really appreciate the support!  With your help, I was able to hit over 2,000 downloads in less than 6 weeks of being live!

The feedback I’ve received has been all good so far and it seems like everybody has really enjoyed the content.  I’ll be sure to keep bringin’ it with awesome information to share.

Turning Down Work

As I gain more experience both working for customers and doing handyman type work, I’m finding myself getting pickier about who I work for and what I do.  I’ve tasted what it’s like to work for good customers and work jobs I enjoy.  Additionally, I’ve worked for quite a few bad customers doing less than ideal jobs.  Now, all I want is the good jobs and won’t let the bad customers bother me.

As I’ve said from the very beginning, I started this business because I want to enjoy what I do and make good money.  That is still 100% my goal with this business.  Turning down jobs I don’t enjoy, aren’t profitable, or are for customers I personally don’t work well with is a huge part of achieving that goal.  It’s necessary in fact.

When I first started my business this wasn’t the case.  I would take any job I could get and work for anybody that would hire me.  I needed the business.  Now, I’ve worked for well over a 100 different customers and have a significant list of customers I can rely on to hire me regularly.  This naturally allows me to be more picky.

In the month of April, I turned down a lot of customers – More than I have in any previous month.  And I have to say, I’m getting pretty good at it.

At first, turning down customers was really difficult for me, even if I wanted to turn them down.  I’d find myself being a “yes-man.”  Have you ever seen the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carey?  I felt like that.  Not cool.  If somebody asked me to do something, it was like I couldn’t say no.  I didn’t want to upset the person I was dealing with or have them think less of me so I’d just say yes.

As I’ve slowly figured out, saying no is actually a skill.  I mean sure, anybody can just say no.  But I’m talking about saying no while making the customer feel as though you are helping them.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say a customer calls me up and is looking for me to tape, mud, and texture their garage.  This is a good example because this isn’t a project I particularly enjoy.  On top of that, there is a lot of competition willing to do this for much less than I am making it more difficult to demand a decent rate.  So, I would say something like:

“This is a service that I can help you with and I’d love to help you out if want me to, but I may not be the most effecient way to get this done.  There are a lot of other guys that are likely to be much more cost effective for this type of project.  But like I said, if you’d like to hire me I’d me more than willing to help you out.”

Most customers will thank me and usually just say “Ok, we’ll check around and get back to you.”  Which pretty much means “Ok,  I’m definitely not hiring you for this job.”  But this is good because you just told them the truth and they are likely to trust and consider you for future projects.  Also, If they decide to hire you, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your profits to compete on a project you didn’t really want in the first place.  Win-win.

Scheduling Upgrades

Keeping up with this blog, producing a podcast, and running a handyman business is not easy.  Don’t worry, I’m not whining.  If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it.

However, it’s obvious that I don’t have as much time to dedicate to my handyman business while continuing to provide helpful and useful content for you.  Recently, I’ve been scaling up the amount of time I put into this blog as well with the podcast and a product I’m working on.  (More about that in the future.  Let’s just say you’re going to want to be on my newsletter when it’s released.)

This additional work and time restriction has forced me to change my handyman schedule, and I think it’s for the better.  I’ve found a way to be more efficient  with my time while still providing a quality service.

Starting in the middle of April, I now only schedule customers on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I still answer my phone on Thursday, Friday, and if I’m feeling up to it, Saturday and Sunday.  I just do absolutely no house calls unless it’s Mon-Wed.  But, on those three days, I pack my schedule really tight.  I try to completely fill one day before even scheduling anything on the next day.

Previously, I would work for customers throughout the week and spread my jobs out and even worked on the weekends occasionally.  I would schedule one or two small jobs a day and make sure I had plenty of time to spend extra time if more work was required on either job.  Not anymore, and it’s got me very excited.

Why am I excited?

  • I’m finding that I can get the same amount of work done in 3 days that was taking me 5 before.  Instead of having 2 or three hours in between jobs that I usually just wasted, I don’t have that.  I just go from job to job and bust out work.
  • I now have two full days a week to work on content for the Handyman Startup community.  Before, I was working on the weekends and when I got home from jobs to produce the content.  I’ll still do this, but I’ll also actually have a life on the weekends.  Definitely looking forward to that.
  • Only working three days a week allows me to book my schedule out further and plan more effectively for the week.  I can now go to the store to pick up supplies less as I usually have my whole week booked in advance.  This means going to Home Depot once, maybe twice, a week.
  • It’s spring! which happens to be my favorite season.  I want to spend some time enjoying myself instead of just working.  Why have your own business if your not going to fully exploit the benefits?

The downside.

  • I’ll probably make less money.  Obviously if I’m working less, I’m not going to make as much.  But this also means taking only jobs I want and working for customers I want as mentioned above so not all bad.
  • I’ll miss out on some of the emergency call opportunities.

I’m sure I’ll end up working on Thursday or Friday on occasion if I don’t finish my jobs on Mon-Wed., but hopefully not very often.  I really want to try to stick to this schedule as I think the long term benefits will be worth the lower income for a while.

Featured Service:  Window Repair

Just like any other part of the house that moves, windows are a feature that need repairs regularly.  Adding window repair to your list of services can be surprisingly profitable if you know what you’re doing.

Back in my mechanical engineering days, I actually worked for a window and door hardware manufacturer.  This is the job that I quit in order to start my handyman business.  This was the job that drained part of my soul for 3.5 years.  And it’s also the job that instilled a passion inside of me to make my own rules and never do something I don’t love.  Ok, a little bit of a rant there.  The point is, I learned a few things about windows along the way.

One thing I learned is that windows are surprisingly simple to repair.  Unless the glass is broken (which I don’t deal with), the hardware is going to be the issue 99% of the time.  In order to repair the window, it’s usually just a matter of replacing the hardware or possibly adjusting it in rare cases.

This means that the only real challenge is finding the correct replacement hardware.  You’ll quickly figure out that the window hardware that Home Depot and Lowe’s carries does not work for the majority of windows.  So, you’ll need to go to other sources to find the hardware.

Here are a couple sources that I recommend:

  • Swisco.com – This place is great, especially if you’re looking for window balances.  They’ve got a lot of other stuff, but that’s mostly what I buy from them.
  • All About Doors and Windows – If I can’t find what I need, I’ll go here next.  This is usually better for door hardware, however.
  • Direct from the window manufacturer – Many times, the only place you can get the correct hardware in the right color is directly from the manufacturer.  But, you’ll probably have to pretend to be the customer in order to get them to talk to you.   This is typically for a sash lock replacement or something of that nature.

How I Charge for Window Repairs

To keep my handyman business profitable, I usually charge $75/visit plus the cost of the hardware which I mark up significantly for the effort of hunting it down online.  This usually ends up being $150 for labor (two trips as the hardware needs to be ordered) plus material costs.  Unfortunately, there is just too many different pieces of hardware to stock any common items to eliminate one trip.  However, if a house is close to mine and I know it’s going to be quick, I’ll only charge $100 in labor.

Income and Expenses

Income:

  • Existing Customers:  $2,680.04
  • Search Engines:  $1,175.00
  • Angie’s List:  $600

Expenses:

  • Direct Job Costs:  $811.65
  • Phone:  $69.82
  • Mileage:  $293.24
  • Insurance:  $144
  • Home Advisor:  $33.94
  • Tools:  $95
  • Bank Fees:  $18.26
  • Dump Fees:  $106.94

Total Income:            $4,455.04
Total Expenses:        $1,572.85
Net Profit:                   $2,882.19  (last month: $2,149.84)

Billable Hours:   63.75
Income from labor:  $3,562.23
Average Hourly Rate:  $55.88

A pretty good month considering that I was in Chicago for a week and only worked Monday-Wednesday for two of the weeks out of the month.  I’m happy with these results and would be happy to maintain numbers like these until I have more time to dedicate to my handyman business.

If you take a look at my hourly rate, it is lower than usual and is under my goal of $60/hour.  This is mainly because I did some work for friends that I provided a substantial discount to.  Also, there was one job that I ended up slightly underbidding which decreased my hourly rate a little as well.  Typically I’ll have a few smaller jobs that I end up making about $100/hour on to offset this, but there weren’t as many as normal this month.  Still, $55/hour is not bad and I can’t really complain.

Monthly Goals

My goal for April, which I set in last month’s income report,  was to maintain an average hourly rate of $60/hour and provide excellent service to my customers.  I didn’t quite hit the $60/hour goal, but I’m confident that I provided good service to my customers.  I was on time, professional, courteous, and completed each job to a high level of quality, even at the sacrifice of my hourly rate at times.

For the month of May, I’m going to maintain that same goal as it seems to keep me on track.  Additionally, I’ll set the goal of only  working Monday-Wednesday each week.  I know I’ll be tempted to take a couple of jobs outside of that time here and there, but I’ll do my best not to.

In review, April was a really good month and I think the new schedule change will be beneficial to me and to you as the reader.  Not only will I have more time to focus on this blog, but you’ll also get the chance to see how limiting my time effects my income and overall business.  If it works out, maybe this is something you could implement in your business to give you more free time.

What do you think?

Do know of anybody else who would find this information helpful?  If so, please share it with them!  Click the like button on the left, tweet this on your twitter account, or give me some google+ love.

STOP Making These Mistakes...
FREE REPORT REVEALS:

"3 Common Handyman Business Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)"

Learn why some handyman businesses THRIVE while others STRUGGLE.
  • dean May 12, 2013

    Like the idea of more free time and more time for you to blog.
    Sounds like you will have your cake and be able to eat it too at the rate you are going, very cool.
    Three days a week would be just right for me . I could live on that no problem.
    Congrats on another successful month !
    Just getting started in the business here finally, had some other work to deal with last month .
    Have a couple jobs lined up this week so far, one patio door that has some rotted wood needing replacement and some downed trees that a homeowner wants cleaned up.
    Think i’m going to like this business .
    Thanks for the inspiration Big D !

    Dean

    • Big D May 15, 2013

      Dean,

      Thanks for reading and congratulations on getting started! I’m definitely enjoying this 3 days a week gig. Wednesday is the new Friday!

  • Fred May 12, 2013

    Good tips. your blog has helped me avoid some problems before i encountered them. By trying to bid 50$ an hour has allowed me to make closer to 20$ BECAUSE of my problem of correctly estimating time a job will take. But estimating at 50$ an hour i thought sounded high but it saved me from losing money on jobs.

    I also have almost an impossible time saying no to customers. But i will try this month.

  • PATRICK FEARICK May 13, 2013

    Sounds good for you. I personally don’t think I would want to take that many days off. I would get bored out of my mind. I’d rather work a 5 hr job like 5 or 6 times a week and get paid 4 to 5 hundred per job and then have the rest of the day off to write estimates and do whatever else I want. Estimating jobs is definitely where the money’s at. I also got a question for you. What do you do when you run into jobs where you need another person? I’m getting requests more and more for bigger jobs. I just started a couple months ago and I feel like I could hire a couple of guys and become a full blown contractor in no time. Also if you could in the future please do a segment on how you handle your taxes. Do you do it all your self or do you hire a CPA? Do you add sales tax on your jobs? How do you handle quarterly tax payments? Thanks again for this handyman support group site. Stay connected.

    • Big D May 15, 2013

      Hey Patrick,

      I’ve run into a couple of jobs where I needed help and end hiring a friend to help only for the stuff I absolutely needed two people for. Personally, I enjoy the smaller jobs so this isn’t really a problem.

      As far as taxes, that’s a little too complicated to answer in a blog comment. I’ll try to work that into a blog post or something.

      Big D

  • Jim May 15, 2013

    Big D! Hope all is well. It sure sounds like it is. Good for you!

    I just wanted to say look me up the next time you are in Chicago. I love talking about the business and would hope you could buy me a beer! Ha!

    Jim

    • Big D May 15, 2013

      Hey Jim,

      Will Do. I loved the city by the way! The Hancock building was the highlight for me.

      By the way, awesome work on the video!

      Big D

  • RED May 16, 2013

    Hi Big D

    Just want to say thank again for all the questions you have answered in the past. Its been a big help.

    I was at a party a few weeks ago in my neighborhood and past out a few business cards. I got a call from an elderly neighbor who I spoke with a the party. Not too sure how I should charge this guy. I’ve figured my rate to be $70 hour. I feel like I should give him a discount being a neighbor. The jobs a little one some patching and painting. I don’t think I can justify the $70h regardless for this work.

    What are your thoughts Big D, Jim from Chicago, Patrick or fred.

    Thanks All.

    Red.

    • Big D May 16, 2013

      Hey Red,

      I totally understand where you are coming from on this one. I’ve actually experienced the exact same situation recently and I ended up giving my neighbor a significant discount, which I later regretted when they keep asking me for work and expecting that same discount or even free.

      I would just tell the neighbor what you would charge your normal clients and give them a 10% neighbor discount and maybe an additional 10% senior discount. That way you aren’t giving away your time, but you are still offering them a deal. If you give them too big of a discount you’ll have your entire neighborhood taking up your time while making pennys.

      If they care about your well being, they won’t want you to give your services for free because they should understand you are making a living doing this stuff.

      Any deal you make should be a mutual exchange of value. If either party is unhappy in the deal, the job isn’t worth moving forward on.

      Just my thoughts.

      Big D

  • Terry May 18, 2013

    Hey Big D,

    Glad you’re doing well. I just wanted to make a comment on scheduling. Saturdays are a good time for me to do small jobs, and that’s when I usually schedule them. The rest of the week, though, I’m available for bigger jobs. Of course, if the phone isn’t ringing, and a smaller job can be done, then I’ll do it, but generally, I do those on Saturday.

    If you can afford to work just the 3-days, that’s great. Enjoy it while it lasts, though, cause it sounds like you’re getting a good Rep real quick.

    Thanks for the updates, friend, we do enjoy them.

    To Good Success
    Terry

    • Big D May 19, 2013

      Thanks for the tip, Terry. Small jobs on Saturdays sounds like a good idea. They’re less stressful so it makes for a more chill Saturday.

      Also, I’m worried that you’re right about building a reputation. If things keep going this way I’ll be much busier than I want to be. At least that is a good problem to have!

Speak Your Mind