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My Monthly Report – January 2013

Welcome to my January 2013 Monthly Report!  I’m now well into my second year in business as a handyman and still have a ton of information to share.

February 1st was the one year anniversary of the Handyman Startup Blog!  Exactly one year ago on Feb. 1st, I wrote my first blog post:  Lifestyle Design and Choosing to Start a Handyman Business.  Time has really flown by!

I think things have come a long way since then and I’m really happy with the progress of the blog and my handyman business.  I wanted to extend my thanks to all of my readers for making the Handyman Startup blog what it is today.  If it wasn’t for your e-mails, comments, and questions, I would have given up a long time ago.  Your successes provide me the inspiration to keep writing.

In 2013, I have big plans for Handyman Startup.  I’m getting ready to release my 2012 Yearly Report very soon so keep an eye out for that.  In my Yearly Report, I plan on stepping it up a notch.  It’s going to be packed with the most important lessons I learned in my first year along with a more in depth look at my financials.  By plotting my income on graphs it has opened my eyes to some very interesting insights about my business.  There going to be far more detail than anything I have offered to date.  It’s also going to be the first paid content on the site and it will not disappoint.  I can’t wait to share it with you!

In addition to my Yearly Report, I’ve been working on a product that many of you have requested.  That’s all I’m going to say for now, but there will be more info in the near future.

Starting off the year with a bang

January was an incredible month for my handyman business and I have record income and profits to show from it.  It was a 5 week month and was busy the entire time.  I figured that after the amazing month I had in Dec. of 2012 things would have slowed down, but this wasn’t the case.  I was booked out 3-10 days at all times.  I’m hoping this will set the stage for an incredible year.

Letting them down gently

Being really busy is a new experience for me and there are certainly some benefits that come with it.  For one, I make more money.  That’s nice, but the thing I like the most is that I don’t have to deal with customers I don’t like.

Well, easier said than done.  I can’t just be rude to customers I don’t like, my reputation is on the line.  As badly as I want to just ignore these customers, it’s bad for business.  So, I need to come up with a way of convincing customers that I’m not the right handyman for them without making myself look bad or pissing them off.

Recently, I came across one of the bad ones.  When I picked up my phone, I instantly realized I wasn’t going to work well with this guy.  Let’s call him Mo.

Mo called me up and said “I have a rental property and I’m looking for somebody to do some repairs for me.  Can you help me?”

So I said, “Absolutely, that’s what I do.”  But I was really thinking “Oh great, a property owner, he’s going to be looking for cheap services.”  After talking to the guy a while, he asked me to meet him at his property so he could show me the repairs he needed.

Upon arriving to the property,  I shook Mo’s hand and was immediately unimpressed.  It was like shaking a baby’s hand or a wet noodle.  Then after showing me the repairs he wanted and bragging about how many properties he has, he says “You’re going to give me good price, right?”

Side note:  When somebody says they are going to give you a bunch of work or recommend you to all of their friends before you bill them, they are usually just trying to get a deal.  I typically don’t do discounts and I never give a discount when somebody says this. 

Annoyed, I responded “I’ll give you a good price when you give me a lot of business.”  The conversation continued and after 10 painful minutes of dealing with this guy I finally decided to close the conversation and let him know I’ll get back to him with a quote.

Of course, he wants the quote by the end of the day which I didn’t do.  So the next morning I get a call from Mo reminding me to send him the quote.  Man, this guy is getting on my nerves.

So I came up with a strategy.  I was just going to quote the job about 50% higher than I normally would.  I figured if he hired me, I’d  at least make good money.  If he thought I was too expensive, he probably wouldn’t call me again.  Win-Win.

Sorry, the story doesn’t end there.  Mo gave me another call asking why the price was so high.  He then asked if he could purchase the parts himself and just have me do the labor.  Wow. Worst. Customer. Ever.  Of course I told him no.  So he finally got off the phone and said he would call me back with a decision.  Hopefully I will never hear from him again.

I’m not sure if bidding high is the best way to shoe away customers I don’t like and I’d prefer not to do it in the future.  I’m not out to rip people off, but I also don’t want to work with time wasting, rude people.

What do you think?  How should I have dealt with Mo?  Do you agree that simply pricing higher than normal is a good way to filter your clients?  If not, how else should I have gone about getting rid of this guy?  Let me know in the comments below.

CrossFit Trade Agreement Update

Back in February 2012’s income report, I mentioned that I set up a trade agreement with the CrossFit gym that I go to.  In return for doing small maintenance and improvements, I get free access to the gym ($125/month value).

I approached the gym owner with this idea back in February because I wanted to help make the gym a better place.  After doing so, I realized that this was not only a great exchange of value for both of us, but it had marketing potential for my business.

The gym members would see improvements that were going on and ask who did them.  This would help brand me as a handy guy.  Also, as long as I did good work and was easy to work with, I was also likely to get several recommendations by the gym owner.

It took a while to work out that way, but I am starting to see results.  So far, I’ve had two of the gym members request work from me, and have even received a couple of bigger jobs from the gym owner on top of our trade agreement.

Additionally, one of the members just purchased a home and needs a bunch of stuff done and she asked me to help her with them.  Awesome!

Although unintentional, Marketing myself this way has been fulfilling and profitable.  I was able to build a relationship with some good people and build my business in the process.

If you have the opportunity to trade services with a local business, I highly recommend doing it.  It can be a great way for a new handyman business to gain some new business, gain some experience, and build a few relationships.

Even if you haven’t started your business yet, lending a hand to a local business could be a great way to get your feet wet.

Featured Service:  Roof Repair

Before/After Roof Repair

Roof repairs are a surprisingly easy and profitable service that you can offer with your handyman business.  The above image shows a roof repair that I completed in January.  There were about 5 or 6  other spots similar to what is shown in the image and I charged the customer $300.  The materials cost me about $25.

I like roof repairs because I don’t need a lot of tools and their usually easy to do.  Additionally, customers place a higher value on the repair because they don’t want to get up on the roof and they think it’s difficult.  This makes it easier to make a profit.

The only tools you need are a ladder, hammer, Pry Bar, galvanized roofing nails, caulking gun, and some roof adhesive.

The area shown in the image above probably took me about 20 minutes to repair (this was only part of the repair).  There are some things to consider when offering this type of service:

  • Get on the roof and inspect the damage before quoting.  Often times you will only see one or two shingles gone when there are actually several others that can’t be seen from the ground.  Or, the tar paper could be in bad shape and in need of repair.  An easy fix you thought was only going to take 30 minutes could end up taking 2-3 hours.
  • Let the customer know in advance that the shingles aren’t going to match exactly.  Roofing manufacturers change their products regularly and the chances of finding an exact match are slim. 
  • Glue down the replaced shingles and the old shingles directly above with a dab of roof adhesive on each corner to prevent them from blowing off again.

 Income and Expenses

Income:

  • Return Customers: $4,846.26
  • Website:  $3,407.70
  • Truck:  $150
  • Referrals:  $120

Expenses:

  • Direct Job Costs:  $1989.26
  • Vehicle Mileage:  $546.92
  • Tools:  $324.68
  • Insurance:  $88.75
  • Office Supplies:  $127.09
  • Website:  $11.99
  • Angie’s List:  $118.74
  • Work Gear: $222.95
  • Phone:  $69.82

Total Income:          $8,523.96
Total Expenses:       $3,500.20
Net Income:              $5,023.76 (last month:  $4,038.87)

Billable Hours:                104.75
Income From Labor:      $6287.39
Average Hourly Rate:     $60.02

Here are some number to get excited about!

Last month I had record income and profits and this month I totally blew that out of the water.  I increased my net income by over $1,000, a 25% increase over last month.

My expenses were much higher than normal as well.  Last month my total expenses were about $2100 and this month they increased by almost $1400.  This increase in expenses was caused by purchasing a lot of parts for jobs as well as other unusual costs.  I had to pay off the rest of my advertising with Angie’s list,  I bought some new tools, and picked up some new work boots and gloves.  These three purchases account for almost $700 in additional expenses.

Taking a look at my hourly rate, I actually hit my goal of $60/hour right on the nose.  This is the highest average hourly rate I have achieved so far in my business in a single month.  Exciting stuff!

I was able to increase the amount of business I had and increase my hourly rate at the same time.  I would have never expected that to happen, especially since I stopped all advertising outside of my website as discussed in last month’s report.

These numbers also boast record income generated by leads from my website.  I haven’t made a single change to my website in over 2 months and it continues to bring me massive amounts of business.  If you are interested in building a website for your business just like I did, I put together a video course to help you out.  How to build a handyman business website.

February Goals

Goal #1:  Release my 2012 Yearly Report

My Yearly Report is going to be packed with incredible insight and inspiration and I’d like to release it soon.  It will also feature a detailed analysis of my income and expenses, laid out in tables and graphs.  It’s going to be my most helpful content thus far.  I’ve been working hard on it for over a month and it’s almost complete!

Goal #2:  $60/hour minimum average hourly rate.

I think this is a really solid hourly rate and it’s proven to yield substantial profits.  I also find that keeping this hourly rate as a goal keeps me motivated.  It forces me to track my time and allows me to evaluate my pricing.  I highly recommend doing the same for your business.  It can be an eye opening experience!

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  • Jim February 10, 2013

    Big D-

    Good Stuff! Congratulations on the record month! I love the fact that you keep track of your stuff so religiously. Its fun , and profitable, to look back on your month and see where the leads came from and how much you spent and where.

    The fact that your largest money maker this month was from repeat customers really says a lot about the work you do. They want you back! That is fantastic.

    Have you done the math or considered hiring an employee for the busy spring season? With your profit per hour creeping up there you might be surprised if you find the right guy. Maybe you could pick up a guy that knows a different trade like plumbing or electrical and you could branch out a little. I like to find guys that I think can teach me something.

    You have inspired my to get more serious about my own blog. Must be a lot of work with handyman and bogging. You seem to be handling it great.

    Anyway, keep up the great work. Cant wait till the next post. Hope you are killing it in February.

    Jim

    • Big D February 10, 2013

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for the comments! You’re right, it is fun to look back on the numbers. Not as fun to keep track of them, though! But wait until you see my Yearly Report.

      As far as hiring an employee, I haven’t taken the time to do the math. I’m not sure I’d want to deal with employees, though. I feel like that would complicate things dramatically. I’d be more inclined to take on a business partner and let them deal with the employees. However, I’m sure I’d make a lot more money in the long run if I started hiring on employees now. That’s a good tip to hire employees to expand your services and learn from. I’d try to hire an electrician if I did expand.

      You are right, blogging and running a handyman business is a TON of work! What blog are you looking to get more serious about?

      By the way, your website looks awesome! Seriously one of the best handyman business websites I’ve seen so far.

      If you have any more tips, keep them coming! It seems like you’ve got this whole handyman thing figured out.

      Big D

      • CK2 Property Services January 28, 2014

        What ever you do DONT get into a partnership !!!!!!!! It is the onlyship that wont sail. I have been there done that . I sold out and walked away six years ago. I made the right decision they went broke 2 years after I left ( bad circumstances for them) I guess. I licked my wounds and I am now starting back up with my business.

        • Dan Perry January 29, 2014

          I appreciate the insight. I’ve heard similar stories and I’m not the type that plays well with others when it comes to my financial situation anyway.

  • Dean February 13, 2013

    Nice going Big D !
    Appreciate you sharing all this important information.
    I liked the part about how to say no to unprofitable jobs too.
    All inspirational from my viewpoint.

    Was reading up on your website tips, mine needs some work still but everything
    is still preliminary and more content is needed. Like the pictures idea, you’re right people do like pictures.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    Dean

    • Big D February 15, 2013

      Thanks Dean! Yes, pictures are critical for a website, especially pictures with people in them. They add life to the website.

  • Jeff February 14, 2013

    Great job Bid D

    Thanks for all the imformation you have provided on this blog. You have inspired me to get more serious about my business. I started my handyman business about year ago and can relate to some of your experiences. I haven’t had quite the success you have had yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there. I advertise in the local paper and on craigs list. I get way more calls from craigs list, and a lot of very nice jobs, the jobs I get from from the local paper still justify the cost. But based on your sales results I can see where I need to spend a lot more time with a better well designed web site!

  • Dean February 16, 2013

    I re-read the letting them down gently part and think you did what I’ve seen other contractors do in that situation.
    Instead of being rude to the customer they just jack up the price and hope to never hear from them again.
    Good topic, been wondering about how to say no to jobs i don’t want or
    stingy customers who are always trying to skin the cat.

  • bigred February 17, 2013

    Hi big d. I’m glad I’ve come across your site. I’ve just started looking into starting a handyman business. I’m a electrician by trade and pretty handy otherwise. I’ve done a lot of work for clients in the past and done well working these jobs on the side of my fulltime job. Eventually though I got bogged down and unorganized and lost good customers. I’m planning on hiring help this time around because I work a full-time job still. But I’m still not sure the best ways to go about doing this. I obviously don’t have fulltime work yet for an employee but I’m hoping I can get a few people who are Willing to work on call. Have you any ideas or can anyone else give there input on this. By the way. What is your handyman website called. Thanks for everything. Very well put together blog.

  • Dee March 13, 2013

    Hi Big D
    Great to see you are having a successful run over what could be a “quiet time” for some! My hubby is just setting up his own business (in Australia) and we have been keenly reading your website… It is refreshing to see someone be so honest in their endeavours – keep it up as I’m sure you will reap the rewards! I only hope that my (although very skilled) that my hubby can achieve what u have and still be happy with not earning the $$$$ he did in the job he has just quit after 30 odd years of service!!
    D
    A the end of the day, all I care about is that he is happy – and I know that this is the sort of area he loves! Thx for the inspiration.

    • Big D March 13, 2013

      Your Welcome! Thanks for reading.

  • Keith June 4, 2013

    In a previous life, I did estimates for a moving company. Seems like the moving business is one of the easiest to get burned in, and highly competitive. Anyhow, when trying to bow out of a job, overbidding is the most common thing people will do. In fact, with online reviews being such a huge factor in reputation, I think it’s the best option by far. Those “give me a good deal” customers are never really happy unless you do it for free. Even if you do sell-out and low-ball, they will still find something they didn’t like. And so, if you just quote high and scare them, what are they gonna write in a review? “He charges a lot for his work”. That’s cool. Better than a bad review and wasted time.

    As far as hiring an employee just to keep up with demand; Seems like that would be going against your mission statement for becoming your own boss Big D. Employees are dependents, and finding some other way to expand is much better.

    Nice monthly post. However, I just read all of them from 2012 and the legal troubles issue was never approached again? Maybe in the next couple posts I read it will be? I’m in the process of finding what’s allowed in advertising here in Arizona.

    • Big D June 4, 2013

      Good point. A customer probably isn’t going to give you a bad review for charging too much and there isn’t much they can say even if they do.

      Ya, still working on the legal battle unfortunately. Supposedly I’ll find out what happens in the next month. We’ll see and I’ll definitely post that on my next monthly report.

  • Rich August 9, 2013

    I am just now looking into all the options in starting a Handyman business. I have been trying to find a way to start my own business for a few years now from lawn and landscape to handyman and just have not taken the chance and dove in. I just came across this site today and after reading some of your material it has been very insightful. I’m currently employed full time in a boring office job with random hours. Im looking to start advertising via Craigslist in my area and hope to get some leads for small odd jobs with summer coming to an end here in about a month and a half. I will be looking forward to the next post from you and best of luck in all you do and accomplish..

    • Big D August 10, 2013

      Thanks for commenting, Rich.

      Good luck with Craigslist and hopefully you can escape your office job soon!

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