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My Monthly Report – February 2013

Welcome to my February 2013 Monthly Report! This marks my 15th month in business as a handyman.

If you are new to the blog, I write these every month to provide updates on the progress of the handyman business that I started in late 2011.  In them, I include my monthly income, expenses, hourly rate, and a featured service.  I also talk about any interesting events that happened.

Last week, I released my first Yearly Report, which is an in-depth analysis of my handyman business during it’s first year.  It was a success and I received a lot of great feedback from those of you that purchased it.  Thanks again for your support!  

Things Change Quickly

If you’ve read my last 2 monthly reports, you know that I’ve been extremely busy.  December and January were both record months for my business and I was on track for the same in February.

But, things all of the sudden slowed waaay down.  I went from having consistent business to having a lot of time off with a snap of a finger.  The first two weeks of the month things were going great and I worked quite a bit.  Then, the second half of the month was really slow.  I only worked 6.5 billable hours in the third week of February!

But, I guess that’s somewhat expected with this type of business.  It’s happend to me before a couple of times last year and I’m sure this won’t be the last slow time.

So why is it so slow?

I think I’m just experiencing a slow time mixed with the fact that I haven’t put an ounce of effort into promoting my handyman business in the last 3 months.

I’ve been so busy writing my yearly report and providing handyman services that I had no time to market my business.  As a result, I don’t have much business.

However, I’m actually enjoying the break.  Keeping up with this blog while trying to run my own business at the same time can be extremely demanding.  This slow period is giving me a chance to recharge and re-evaluate what I’m doing.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both the blog and the business, but a break is just necessary.

This makes me think back to when I was an engineer, working between 40 and 50 hours a week with only 2 weeks off for the entire year.  There were times when I just needed a few days or a week to recharge, but it wasn’t an option.  I wanted to save my time off for when I was actually going to do something, so I just kept chugging along.  It slowly wore me down to the point of being depressed.

Working as a engineer was an exhausting experience and I’m so thankful that I have the opportunities that I do at this point.  If I want to take some time off, I can.  Owning a handyman business is one of the coolest and most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

Featured Service:  Drywall Repair

Several of you have requested that I talk more about how I price jobs, so here is an example of how I would handle drywall repairs.

Drywall repair is a necessary skill for any handyman.  I’d say that I do at least one drywall repair each month.  However, it’s rare for me to have a job that is just a drywall repair.  Usually it is part of a painting job or something grouped in with a bunch of other repairs.

A drywall repair takes less than an hour of actual work so it’s easy to underestimate.  However, when pricing your services for a drywall repair, it’s necessary to consider how much time it takes for you to start and stop what your doing, wait for materials to dry, or drive to and from the location if you can’t finish in one visit.  It takes much more of your time preparing for the job, cleaning up, and starting and stopping between each step.

In addition to the steps involved, drywall repairs can vary substantially in difficulty and prep.  For example, if you are patching a crack in a ceiling above a bunch of furniture, it’s going to take a lot more time to prep the room than if you are just patching a door knob hole in the wall.  This time needs to be accounted for in the quote.

This is why I quote drywall repairs based on time and materials.  That is, if I’m not just working hourly for the customer.

Let’s say that I get called for a job to patch a hole in the wall from a doorknob.  I would estimate my time as follows:

  • 1 Hr for prep, patch, and the 1st coat of compound.
  • 1 hr to sand and add second layer of compound.
  • 1 hr to sand, prime and texture.
  • 1 hr to paint.

So, that’s a total of 4 hours if I was to do only one drywall repair.  However, there is a significant amount of dry time included in this.  If I’m able to work on other stuff in between, I can give the customer a better value.  I try to do this whenever I can.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the customer has paint that matches the wall on hand.  If I need to match the paint, It often makes sense to paint the entire wall that the hole is on.  Otherwise you may see the slight difference in color or sheen.  This would obviously increase my quote.

Tip:  Use a fast set drywall compound to speed up the drying process so you don’t have to use a heat gun or wait a day between each step.  It’s a little harder to work with, but it’s worth learning how to use.

Income and Expenses

Income:

  • Return Customers:  $2272.14
  • Website:    $610
  • Referrals:  $969.30
  • Network:   $460
  • Angie’s List:  $300

Expenses:

  • Direct Job Costs: $818.74
  • Vehicle Mileage:  $414.71
  • Tax Prep:  $300
  • Bank Fees:  $13.40
  • Phone:  $69.82
  • Other:  $5.34

Total Income:       $4,611.44
Total Expenses:     $1,622.01
Net Income:          $2,989.43 (last month: $5,023.76)

Billable Hours:              58.75
Income from Labor:     $3,588.02
Average hourly Rate:   $61.07

As you can see above, my net income for the month dropped by a little over 2k.  But, I also worked a lot less to get there.  In January I worked 104.75 Billable hours, which is quite a bit more than I’d like to.  I made really good money in January, but wouldn’t want to work that much every month.

This month, I only worked 58.75 hours.  This is right about where I would like every month to be as it was a perfect mixture between profits and time off.  I’m always preaching about lifestyle design and one thing that I always say is that money is NOT my top priority.  I enjoy what I do, but that’s not all I want to do.

I recently spent some time going through my personal monthly expenses to figure out how much I need in order to do the things that make me happy.  By doing so, I’ve decided that I need about $3,000 net income each month.  That’s it.  It’s not much and that’s about what I hit this month.  If I only have to work 60 hours to get to that, I’d say that’s pretty awesome!

You may be wondering how much I worked outside of the billable hours.  In both January and February, I put absolutely no time into marketing or advertising my business.  I also spent very little time providing quotes or dealing with time wasting customers.  In addition to the billable hours in Feb, I may have worked another 10-15 hours doing things such as invoicing, e-mailing, following up, and quoting customers.

I’m hoping to be able to replicate these numbers in the future with minimal effort in advertising.  I’ve got some ideas on how I plan to do so which I’ll talk about in the future.

Goals for March

Goal #1:  Develop a new marketing campaign.

My mind has been racing with ideas on how to grow my business ever since I wrote my Yearly Report.  The insight I gained from graphing my numbers and evaluating what I did right/wrong over the past year really opened my eyes.  I’m going to use this information to improve the quality of my service.

I also want to continue to provide you with marketing insights and can help you grow or start your business.  In order to do so, I need to test these myself.  I’ll figure out how to maximize effectiveness while minimizing effort and monetary investment.  Then, I’ll share what I’ve learned on the blog.

That being said, what marketing methods are you most interested in?  Please share in the comments below!

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  • Big Red March 10, 2013

    Hi there

    Enjoyed your monthly report as usuall. What are your thoughts on estimating software. Have you ever looked into that. There are a few handyman franchise businesses out there who have been leading the industry through there business estimating software. I think this may give them an edge. Those who charge hourly or by the job can give the customer who inquires over the phone a fairly accurate price according to what the customers tells them they need done. Kind of like when you go to a car mechanic. Every specific job for a particular vehicle has a estimated time in their binder, Giving them an edge selling to the customers. The secratary of joe blogs handyman service can answer the phone have a request for a job, look through the binder with over 20000 different jobs and quote over the phone. Id imagine this may give them an edge.

    What are your thoughts. Do you know of any software on the market that could help us.

    Slante mo chara
    Thanks

    • Big D March 11, 2013

      Hey Big Red,

      Good question.

      In a perfect world, I think software with a price list would be the way to go. However, anybody that has been in this business for a long time will tell you that there is no perfect job.

      In order to build a price list containing even half of the jobs a handyman does, it would take a LOT of time. More time than it would be worth for a one man handyman business. If somebody did put the effort into building one, it would only be relevant to their specific region as different regions have different architectural features and costs of living. Additionally, it would need to be updated regularly in order to stay current and accurate. Also, every business is different and have different operating costs. So a price may be extremely profitable for one business, while it would barely cover costs for another business.

      If you are big operation and can justify the time/money to develop such a price list for your own business, then it might be worth it. However, you’d still end up getting screwed on some jobs while ripping the customer off on other jobs.

      That being said, I do think it’s a smart thing to come up with a flat rate cost for services that you perform on a regular basis. For most jobs, it’s better to take a look before you put a price in the customers head.

      Anybody else have any thoughts?

      • Big red March 11, 2013

        Thank you.

        Pricing and employees are my biggest hurdle. I have been looking into the model that a lot of the bigger franchise handymen companies perscribe, which is managing and marketing rather than doing the actual work. But im not fully sold on their program. Like Steve from california has said though, it is hard to trust anyone. Nonetheless I have incorperated a carreers page on my site with a questionaire to screen employees before an interview but it will be tricky getting a good guy who can cover the scope of work and also having the steady work to begin with. I will however work a 20 hour work week before i employ anyone. I also work a full time job as a stationary engineer. I will keep you posted on these hurdles. Thanks for your tips and advice again.

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