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My Monthly Report – November 2012

Welcome to the 12th Handyman Startup monthly report! That means I’ve officially been in business for a year and what a great year it has been.

I’ve learned a ton along the way and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with anybody interested enough to read it.

If you are new to the blog, I write these reports each month to show how my handyman business is doing. In them, you will find useful insights, tips on how to grow your own handyman business, and how much money I made in the last 30 days.

This is a special monthly report and I have something new to share with you.  In last month’s report you had the option to take a quick, 3 question survey.  (Thanks to everybody that took the time to fill this out.  I really appreciate it.)  Based on the results, I’ve decided to include information on profitable services that I offer in my handyman business.

Each month I will feature one profitable service that I offered that month.

November was filled with highs and lows.  At the beginning of the month I had plenty of work and was making good money each job.  Then, during the second week, things slowed waaay down.  I had a few leads, but no business.  I did lose a couple of jobs because I bid a little higher than I usually would have.  But, even so, there were two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving that were extremely slow.  I ended up doing OK considering the amount that I actually worked, but I’m looking for December to be a much better month.

Featured Service:  Christmas Light Installation

Christmas lights and wreath

In my city I’ve been seeing quite a few signs advertising holiday light installation so I decided to test this service for myself.  I’ve found that this can be a very profitable service typically requested by higher end clientele.

You may be surprised at how many people are looking to have Christmas decorations hung at their house.  The people that are willing to pay for this service usually have some money, too.  All of my leads were from higher end homes.  These are usually the type of people that need handyman services as well so it is good potential to gain customers.

I had my HomeAdvisor account set up to get leads for Christmas light installation and I was bombarded with leads right after Thanksgiving (best time to offer this service).  I actually ended up turning this off because there were too many to follow up on.  I was also getting leads for houses that I was unable to decorate myself due to really high or steep roofs.

Christmas light Income so far this year:  $635.64 (2 jobs)

All of this income was generated by HomeAdvisor leads as I did not advertising on craigslist.  However, I believe the best place to advertise this service would be on Craigslist.  HomeAdvisor gets too expensive and unless you have really tall ladders and some help, you won’t be able to take some of the leads you get anyway.

Best pricing strategy

After researching how other companies offer this service, flat rate is definitely the way to go.  Additionally, including take down in the price as well as a little extra for maintenance issues (snow knocking lights down, etc.) is a good idea.  Don’t be scared to charge a lot, either.  You are risking your body by getting on the roof and this is a service offered to higher end homes.  Charge enough to make it worth your time and then some.

Christmas Light Hanging Tips

If you are new to this kind of job, a Christmas light installation will probably take you twice as long as you expect.  I thought a job was going to take me about 4 hours and ended up taking 8 hours.  Luckily, I decided to bid high on that job.

Also, make sure to use holiday light clips.  Staples work great and are really fast, but take down is a bitch and customers don’t like holes in their fascia boards.  The clips allow you to get that professional look as well.

Always test the lights before you you hang.  I had several bad strings of lights in the two jobs that I did in November.

Do you offer Christmas light installation to your customers?  If so, do you have any useful tips?  List them in the comments at the end of the post.

Is Facebook Worth The Effort?

I recently decided to start putting some more effort into using Facebook for my handyman business.  Not a lot of effort, but some.

To be honest, I think spending a bunch of time keeping up Twitter, Facebook, and multiple or other social networks is a waste of time.  You don’t need followers, likes, or pins as a handyman, you need business.

But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t see value in maintaining a presence on Facebook.  Here is how I have decided to use it.

If I write a blog post on my handyman business website, I will post a quick comment on Facebook with a link back to that blog post.  This takes about 1 minute to complete and is good because it allows the very few fans that I do have to possibly click through to my website and read my content.  This gives my website a little SEO boost and helps that post rank faster.

Also, whenever I complete a job that is picture worthy, I take a picture and upload it to my Facebook page.  You can even do this from your mobile phone if you get the Facebook app.  This takes about 30 seconds.

I like doing this for two reasons.  One, I like to show people what I’ve done.  Two, people love pictures.  There are so many bored people out there just browsing Facebook to see what other people are up to.  Their attention is definitely drawn to pictures and videos.

Currently, all of my followers are friends as I do very little to promote my Facebook page.  But, just by posting pictures about what I do and staying in their heads, they are more likely to think of me when somebody they know asks for a handyman.  They’ll also be a lot more likely to recommend me because they may have seen me post a picture for the exact type of work their friend is looking for.

After doing this with a few jobs I’ve realized that most people don’t really know what I do.  Even my own mom didn’t really know what kind of work I did until I started posting photos.  Sure, my friends and family know that I’m a handyman, but they have no idea what kind of jobs I do.  This is a great way to show them that takes minimal effort.

Income and Expenses

Income:

  • Search Engines:  $1515
  • Existing Customers:  $1479.05
  • Service Magic:  $635.64
  • Referrals:  $240

Expenses

  • Direct Job Costs:  $532.56
  • Phone:   $69.81
  • Mileage:  $390.17
  • Insurance:  $94
  • HomeAdvisor:  $172.57
  • Angie’s List:  $83.83
  • LLC Fees:  $325
  • Tools:  $275.13
  • Website Hosting:  $120.83
  • Other:  $-23.34

Total Income:         $3869.69
Total Expenses:     $2,040.57
Net Profit:                $1,829.12  (last month:  $2,718.75)

As I mentioned earlier, it was a pretty slow month for me.  Especially the 2 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.  I talked to a few other handymen that were experiencing a similar drop in business during that time.  I think it had something to do with Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  Everybody was either pre-occupied organizing their Thanksgiving or just saving their money for Black Friday.

I profited less than last month, but I also had some unusual expenses that I only have to pay once a year.  I had to pay my yearly filing fees for my LLC ($325), my yearly website hosting bill ($120.83),  and buy a new chop saw ($250) since somebody stole mine last month.  These combined added an additional $695.83 to my expenses.  If it weren’t for these costs, I would have profited closer to $2,500.

Taking a look at my income figures, I don’t see any income coming from Angie’s List.  This is the fourth month in a row that I’ve seen no income from this advertising method despite the fact that I pay $83.83/month.  I’m planning to cancel my ads as soon as I can.

My Handyman Hourly Rate

Billable Hours:  62.25

Income from labor:  $3203.99

Hourly Rate:  $3203.99/62.25 = $51.47/hour

This makes me happy.  Last month I set the goal to have at least $50/hour average hourly income and I actually did it.

Some of the jobs I did yielded over $75/hour, but then others I received less than $40/hour based on bad estimating.  Now, I just need to continue to work on getting better at estimating or faster at completing the jobs that I bid flat rate.  Either way, I’m happy with where I’m at right now.  I certainly plan on making more in the future, but I believe this a very solid rate for my first year in business.

Goals for December

Goal #1:  $55/hour minimum average hourly rate.

Last month I set a goal of $50/hour and enjoyed trying to hit that goal.  I’m starting to get more comfortable asking for more money so I’ve decided to shoot a little higher this month.  Hopefully it works out!

What goals do you have for your handyman business?  Whether you are just starting out and only thinking about starting a handyman business, I want to hear your goals.  Maybe your goal is to decide on a handyman business name by the end of the month, or maybe to have your website up and running.  

Whatever your goals are, please leave them in the comments below.  

Til’ next time, here’s to your success as a handyman.

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  • Jim December 12, 2012

    Hi Big D-

    Always a pleasure to read your posts. I want to start with Facebook. I am on the same page as you as not really knowing if its worth the time. Like you I am setting one up for the SEO kick and hopefully it will be more beneficial than we think in the future. I also read recently that LinkedIn is the best of the big three Social media platforms for finding new business and customer.

    I was busy here in Chicago during the slow periods you had mentioned (two weeks before Thanksgiving) but I am seeing a slow down right now. I think it would be interesting to compare Google Analytics reports for different handyman business. One could then really check out the seasonality of the business with a little bit of correlation analysis. It would obviously vary in different cities/climates around the country but interesting none the less.

    I learn something new every time I read your blog. Please keep the posts coming!

    Happy Holidays

    JIm

    • Big D December 13, 2012

      Jim,

      Thanks for leaving a comment. It’s really good to hear that you found some good info.

      You’re right, it would be interesting to compare the results of several handyman businesses website analytics to see how their traffic is effected by the time of year. However, I think there is an easier way. You can use the Google Adwords tool to check the keyword “handyman” and see the results on the little bar graph they provide. I’m not sure if you can get info on a week by week basis, but you would gain a general idea.

      Hopefully things pick up soon. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

      Big D

  • Connecticut handyman February 5, 2013

    I just built my Handyman Website Today and am hoping to get some new business, you blog has inspired me. I will keep you updated.

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