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

My Monthly Report – August 2012

Welcome to my ninth monthly report!  If you are new to the blog, I write these every month, since day one of starting my business, and this marks my 9th month in business as a handyman.  In these reports I share how much money I made in the past 30 days, advertising methods that paid off, and interesting events that happened along the way.  I’ll also include key insights that I gained.

There is one word I would use to describe August – BUSY.  Not only did I work more than ever, but I also had to move to a new house, sell my old house, and deal with the contractors board issue.  It was a lot to deal with and I’m pretty happy the months is over.  I do get to say that my profits for this month are back up!  The cool thing about being busy as a business owner is that it usually means you’re making good money.  Also, if you’re not busy, you get a lot of time to relax.  It’s really a win-win situation.

Working for Friends and Family

During the month of August, I did a lot of work for a loved one and it made me want to talk about working for friends and family.

If you own your own handyman business, you have probably already dealt with working for family or friends.  It can be challenging because a lot of times they will expect you to help them for free.  While you probably should in some cases, it’s also important to put a value on your time.

Even if they don’t expect you do help them for free, they do expect to get a significant discount.  Unfortunately, they don’t understand that you sell your time for money.  Even if you enjoy what you do, it’s important that you get paid for your efforts.  Spending tons of time doing charity work for family and friends can really drain your time and energy.

That’s why I believe it’s important to establish some guidelines BEFORE your friends and family ask you for a favor.  This way you are prepared and can set the tone for future events.

Here’s how I handle it…

I offer guidance, phone support, and help for free.  This means if they just need a quick hand, need to borrow some tools, or have any questions, I am more than happy to help at no charge.

If one of my friends or family members asks me to fix something that I believe they can do themselves, I tell them how and offer as much guidance as I can.  If they still want me to just take care of it, they will get charged.

For any big projects I will charge as well.

I DO provide a 20% discount from my normal rates.  Additionally, on jobs where I would usually charge by the job and make a much higher rate, I charge hourly with the same discount applied.

I think this is more than fair.  It also allows friends and family to ask you for help without wondering whether or not they are taking advantage of you.  If you just tell them straight up how you charge, they can determine whether or not they are going to hire you instead of feeling like they are asking for too much.

What are your thoughts on this?  Let me know in the comments below.

How to Get Free Stuff

Do you want to get a ton of free stuff randomly given to you?  Become a handyman.

I don’t know what it is about some of my customers, but they feel the need to give me free stuff.

Two weeks ago, I was called by a customer to mount her flat screen TV on the wall.  When I arrived, she explained how she was trying to sell her old TV on craigslist and had no luck so far.  Being a veteran Craigslister, I offered her some advice to get it sold.  By the end of the conversation, she decided that she didn’t want to deal with it.

So, she came up with the idea to just give it to me.  Awesome.  Not only did she give me a free 52″ TV, but she also didn’t want here old surround sound system which included a receiver, a sub, and 5 satellite speakers.  I was blown away.

But, this wasn’t the first type a customer decided to give me free stuff.  In the past I’ve recieved items such as a really nice patio set, a computer monitor, a leather couch, end tables, and the list goes on.

I think it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.  It’s a common trait that people that hire handymen have.  They don’t want to deal with installing new stuff or getting rid of old stuff.  So, they just let you handle it.  One of the many benefits to this profession.

Have you received any free items from your customers or is it just me?  Let me know in the comments below.

Focus on the Positive

Just the other day I met a real estate investor.  It was a random occurrence as he was actually purchasing my old washer and dryer for one of his rental units.  When he came to pick up the goods, he noticed my truck and started asking about what kind of handy work I do.

“Mostly just general handyman work.  You know, door repairs, small painting jobs, and other home repairs” I answered.

What do you see wrong with this statement?

It’s extremely boring and it doesn’t sound like I want his business!  This isn’t the only time I’ve failed miserably at promoting myself, either.  My usual answer is “I do everything but plumbing, electrical and HVAC.”  Lame!

While this is the complete and honest truth and sums up exactly what I do, there is a major problem with it.  The problem is that I’m focusing on the negative with this response.  Instead of saying what I can do really well, I’m focusing on what I can’t do.

If you called a restaurant and asked what they specialize in and the response was “We can make anything but pizza,” would you be excited about ordering?  I doubt it, because it sounds like they lack anything unique or especially good.  It sounds like a lot of mediocrity excluding one of my favorite foods.

So, what should I do about it?  How can I answer potential customers in a way that compels them to hire me?

This is precisely the question you should ask yourself when somebody asks “What do you do?”

Income and Expenses

Income:

  • Existing Customers: $1373.12
  • Friends and Family: $2657.26
  • Google Searches: $987
  • Service Magic: $360
  • Referral: $20
  • Yahoo: $75
  • Network: $40

Expenses:

  • Direct Job Costs: $1209.05
  • Phone: $69.82
  • Licensing Fees: $189
  • Insurance: $94
  • Bank Fees: $1.10
  • Service Magic: $65.44
  • Angie’s List: $83.83
  • Vehicle Mileage:  $420.14

Total Income:     $5,512.38
Total Expenses: $2,132.38
Net Profit:                   $3,380 (last month: $2,043.19)

Looks like profits are back up!  I have to admit that it feels pretty good to be making good money again.  If you take a look at the income sources, my family and friends income was $2657.26.  This was a large part of the reason that my income was as high as it was.

Ever since I was stung by the contractors board, I havn’t been able to advertise the same way that I was previously.  This includes being restricted from advertising some of my most profitable services.  If you take a look at my income reports, I made about $3,700 in profit in the month of May.  In June, I was hit with the ticket and from there on havn’t been quite as profitable.

I did appear in court recenetly, but nothing really happened.  Since my case is unique as opposed to the common DUI or other straightforward ticket.  In my case, we are bascially asking for the statute to be either revised or re-interpreted.  Our basis for the case is that the way the current statute reads, it violates the  the first ammendment – freedom of speech.  I guess it’s a pretty interesting case if your an attorney.  I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress.

My Handyman Hourly Rate

Billable Hours: 132.5

Income from labor = $4725.50

Hourly Rate = $4725.50/132.5= $35.66

Looks like I fell  a little short of my hourly rate goal or $40.  However, I did do a significant amount of labor for a loved one and I only charged $32/hour as described above.  That includes a 20% discount.  For my other customers, I am confident that my hourly rate exceeded $40.  If you need help determining your hourly rate, click here.

Looking Forward…

Keeping your eye on the future is always good practice in business.  Envisioning what success looks like for business in 1 month, 1 year, and even 5 years is a great way to ensure that success is even possible.  After all, if you don’t have a goal, how can you succeed?  If you haven’t already, you may consider reading my post about setting goals and give it a shot.

For my handyman business, my primary goals include making a good living doing something that I love and helping others in the process.  Unfortunately, I believe this has slowed me down as I have to focus on maintaining this website along with running a one man handyman business.  It is not easy.  But, I do enjoy it.

If I was to focus solely on building my handyman business, I believe I would be a lot further along.  Don’t get me wrong.   I’m not trying to complain, because I absolutely love what I do.  I would just like to mention that when I set my goals for this business, I did so with an understanding that my efforts would be divided.  By trying to build this website and a handyman business at the same time, I knew my progress would be slowed.

I hope this is motivation that you can start your own handyman business that supports you and your family even faster than I have.  If you were to get out there and really hustle, there is no limit to the success you can achieve.

So, what are you waiting for?

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.
  • Josh September 23, 2012

    Hey D, I just wanted to let you know that reading your posts has been really helpful to me. I have just recently starting doing business unofficially as a handyman. I have advertised to my friends on facebook and through my church and in the last 3 weeks I have already been busier than I thought I would be! To answer your question above, I haven’t had anyone offer me free stuff out of the blue yet, but I have already accumulated quite a few light fixtures and a ceiling fan that customers just didn’t want because they were the wrong color for their home. I plan to either offer them to other people in the future, sell them on craigslist, or if nothing else I can bring them to the habitat for humanity re-store and they will be put to good use.

    I’m in the process of legitimizing my business and filing for my llc, and once I get that done I will be able to take more avenues for advertising. I’ve definitely benefited from reading your how-to guides and your openness with your income reports have been very encouraging when looking to my future. After 3 weeks of being very busy I’m at a point of not having anything scheduled again. Any advice to get things moving again?

    • Big D September 25, 2012

      Hi Josh,

      Congrats! That’s awesome that you have been so busy from simply letting your existing network know that you are offering services. That’s a great way to start out.

      Unless you need the money right away, I recommend making your operation legit and building your website, getting business cards, and setting up the details. If you don’t do this now, you may be constantly running into slow times. This stuff is harder to work on once things get rolling.

      That being said, when I want quick leads, I go to Craigslist. I wrote a post about this a few weeks ago that you should check out. Something else you might try is dropping a letter in your neighbors mailboxes letting them know they have a handyman close by.

      It was nice hearing from you and keep up the good work!

      Big D

  • JO October 8, 2012

    Big D
    Question: When you filed for LLC. did you use your UPS store location address or were you required to use your personal address?

    Thx
    JO

    • Big D October 9, 2012

      JO,

      I used my home address when filing for my LLC and my city business license. However, I can’t say that I remember if this was because it was required to or not.

      Big D

  • Sean October 8, 2012

    Josh,

    I just got my business licensed, and I am starting out with practically no money; so, I know what your going through. Here’s a good tip to get some business going.
    Create a simple flyer on Microsoft Word, copied onto two columns. Cut and punch a hole. Use a rubber band to make a door hanger.
    Include a special promotion such as discounted rate for pressure washing or painting. And don’t be afraid to knock on some doors.
    I offered a special for my neighborhood of less than 300 houses, and got 5 pressure washing jobs and 3 other jobs so far. Plus, I was able to introduce myself and my business to many of my neighbors. Not bad for one day of walking and $25 spent at Staples.
    I hope this helps. Good Luck!

    Sean

    • Big D October 9, 2012

      Sean,

      Great tip! Do you mind going into more detail on the discount and services that you offered? Not only am I interested, but I think it will help others if they want to try this marketing strategy.

      Thanks!

      Big D

  • Sean October 13, 2012

    Hi Big D,

    No problem. When I created the flyer, I included a pressure washing special for the first paragraph underneath my logo. The promotion included cleaning the driveway, sidewalk, mailbox, and front walkway. Now here’s the important part. Leave a blank space for a price like this, ” PRESSURE WASHING SPECIAL $_________.” This way, you can quickly quote the job as you walk to the door. After all, even two houses next door to one another can have very different size driveways, and one may require much more time to complete.
    A great way to make this strategy even more effective is to target your efforts. Talk to your family and friends about their home owner’s associations. If the HOA sends them a letter to pressure wash or repair something, chances are that they sent several other homeowners a similar letter. This is the best time to distribute your flyers/door hangers.

    I hope this helps. Good Luck!

    Sean

    • Big D October 16, 2012

      Awesome Idea. I like how you quote each job individually as you walk up to the door.

  • Ryan Long October 18, 2016

    Big D,

    Going through your income reports for probably the 11th time 🙂 and I am noticing now that your Billable Hours per month Peaked around this time in your career. Was this because you Living income is now being reached with fewer hours being worked and the same if not more amount of money being made? Or is this due to being hired less due to the higher rate? Thanks again for all the valuable information, wouldn’t be where I am now without you!

    Ryan
    Quick List Handyman

    • Dan Perry October 19, 2016

      Hi Ryan,

      It wasn’t because of lack of business – but I just became more choosy with which jobs I take on. If anything, I get more calls than i did when my hours peaked. I just refer those people to others or don’t even answer my business phone anymore. By making more per hour I was able to scale back my hours and focus on building the website you are visiting right now.

      Dan

Speak Your Mind