Welcome to my monthly income report for September 2013!
What’s a monthly income report you ask?
It’s a monthly article where I share my handyman business experiences including everything from how much I made to where I get my customers. I share what I learned, anything interesting that happened along the way, and tips to help others succeed.
If you are a handyman, plumber, electrician, contractor, or other home service provider, these reports are for you.
If you are a handy person that hates your desk job and wants something more, these report are for you, too. There’s an incredible amount of opportunity out there and I’d love to help you see that.
Here’s what I’ll cover in this month’s report:
- How I use my handyman business to accelerate the achievement of my goals.
- My plans for increasing my hourly rate.
- How to judge a customer by their expectations.
- Plus a featured service for this month.
Juggling Multiple Projects
September was a crazy month because I had to focus on launching the Handyman Web Academy and my handyman business had to take a back seat for the month.
But then again, that’s why I love my handyman business. I can work as much or as little as I want for the most part.
This month, I chose to turn down a lot of new customers in order to get the Academy ready to launch. I even cut some weeks to less than 3 days of handyman work to do so. You’ll see the effects of this in my income.
I did my best to service my existing clients, but had to turn down one of my super-customers on a painting job. Hopefully I didn’t lose that customer forever, but if I did I need to accept that as a cost to play the game.
I love having the ability to determine how much I work. If I don’t absolutely need the money and I need some time to handle other business, I can take time off. Back when I was drudging away at my 9-5 I didn’t have this ability and it made me feel like I was in a cage.
I mean, it was hard to find the time to get a freakin’ haircut. Now I have the power to do things my way and it feels great!
How to Judge a Customer by Their Expectations
As I gain more handyman experience and work with more people, I’m starting to become an excellent judge of my customers right off the bat.
It’s like I’ve developed a sixth sense that tells me immediately if they’re going be awesome to work for or totally drain my energy and make me question my career choice.
One indicator of the quality of a particular customer is their expectations.
I’ve found that customers who have really high expectations are some of the worst to deal with. These are the ones that expect you to drive out to their house just to quote a $75 job, charge them a low rate, and work completely around their schedules. In other words, they were spoiled as a child. Think Veruca Salt from “Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.”
If you can’t get to their job within 2 days, they get frustrated. It amazes me.
These are also the people that will double check your work right in front of you and notice ridiculous details that don’t even matter. They are impossible to please and I avoid working for them as much as I can.
Then, there are the customers who have really low expectations. They usually say things like “whenever you can fit me into your schedule would be great” or “thanks so much for showing up on time!” I like these customers.
It’s like they’ve been dealing with the worst customer service on the planet from past handymen. When I show up just being regular, it’s like I’m doing them some huge favor even though they are paying me handsomely for my time.
Sure, I’m doing my best to provide them with a quality service, but their appreciation is disproportionate to my service for sure.
So how can you immediately distinguish the good from the bad? I’ve developed a method that helps me quite a bit, but it takes some practice.
One way to tell the difference between these two types of customers is to disappoint them right away. I’m not saying you should show up late or do a crappy job. There are better ways to do this.
I like to disappoint them by keeping my schedule booked out a week. This way I’m forced to break the news that I can’t get to them for at least a week. Aside from the scarcity this creates, their reaction will provide a small indication of their expectations.
If they react like it’s completely normal and it’s no big deal, that’s a good sign. If they tense up and get even the slightest bit frustrated, that’s your first warning.
Sometimes, you don’t even have to disappoint them to know if they are one of the bad eggs. Right when you answer the phone they’ll say something like “I hope you can help me with my door. I’ve been calling over all around town trying to find somebody who can find their head from their ass and help me get my door repaired.” (that actually happened to me last month by the way)
If this is the case, it is definitely in your best interested to avoid working for that person. Not only will they be rude, but they will be impossible to please.
When the guy called me about the door I just said that I didn’t service his area (which was true). The guy was pissed, but at least I didn’t have to deal with him any further.
I could go on and on about this, but the bottom line is that if you think a customers is asking too much, you’re probably right. Drop that customer down the “bad egg” chute and focus your efforts on only letting golden eggs pass your filter.
Featured Service: Tile Repair
Back when I first started my business, I screwed up on a tile repair and have been avoiding them ever since. However, I recently decided to give it another go because I feel like this is a service I should know how to do well.
I’m glad I did, too, because as it turns out tile repairs are pretty profitable. They aren’t my favorite type of work to do, but they’re not the worst either.
Above, you can see a picture of a tile repair I did recently. Unfortunately, I wasn’t smart enough to take a before picture, but I assure that these were broken before I fixed them. 🙂
I still don’t have a ton of experience with replacing tile, but based on the experience that I do have, I’ve found that I can charge a solid rate.
On this job, I quoted $225 and ended up completing the job in only 2.5 hours (which was less than expected). That’s 90 bones an hour and I could do it faster with some practice. Since I already had some thin-set and the customer provided the grout, there were no material costs.
In some cases a tile repair can turn into a bigger job, too. This is usually the case if the broken or loose tiles are toward the floor of the shower or somewhere that moisture could pose a problem. On a job a few months back, I ended up having to basically rebuild the step on a shower which I charged about $500 to do.
Most people have no idea how to even approach a repair like this or what’s required to actually do it right. That’s a good thing when you are trying to charge a decent rate as the more difficult a job seems to the home-owner, the more you can charge. I don’t recommend gouging your customers, but it’s always nice when there is a little room for error in the pricing.
Some tips for success:
- As with everything, use the right materials for the job. You need to be sure that you are using the right stuff to attach the tile as well as the right grout. I’m not going to get into a how-to here, but just do your research for each application. I recommend consulting a tile shop to pick the right stuff if you’re unsure.
- Don’t use old bags of grout that have been sitting out. I made this mistake once and the grout ended up being so soft that I could scrape it out with my fingernail after it had set. I had to scrape it out and re-grout it. Not fun.
I’m positive that many of you know way more about tile than I do. If so, got any more tips? Please share them in the comments!
Income and Expenses
- Existing Customers: $2,504
- Online Marketing: $1,110.44 (this is business gained from leads generated online primarily from my website)
- Referrals: $267
- Direct job costs: $289.37
- Mileage: $236.74
- Phone: $69.82
- Insurance: $94
- Tools: $6.44
- Bank Fees: $8.53
Total Income: $3,881.44
Total Expenses: $1,110.44
Net Income: $3,176.54 (last month: $4,024.85)
Billable Hours: 51
Income From Labor: $3,563.13
Average Hourly Rate: $69.87
I always like it when the results for the month are better than I expect them to be. Honestly, for the amount of business that I turned down and how little I worked, I didn’t think I even made that much money.
One number that is especially low is my income from my online marketing. The reason for this is because I turned down a lot of new business in order to keep my existing customers happy and have enough time to launch my course. Existing customers are typically far more valuable than new customers are so I felt this was a good compromise.
One thing that makes me happy is the $69.87 per hour that I made this month. I haven’t evaluated the previous months to compare, but it seems like my hourly rate is slowly going up. I’m interested to see how high I can get it to go!
Last month I set the goal to launch the Handyman Web Academy by October 1st and put on my first webinar. I have to say that it was really hard. I don’t think I’ve worked that much since I was going to college full time while working a part-time job.
For about a week leading up to the launch, I would wake up and start working right away keep working until I went to bed. I’d only stop to eat and walk my dog. At one point I was actually starting to get dizzy and light headed so I had to force myself to take a break.
Not cool, but the sacrifice was worth achieving my goal and successfully launching my course.
Goals for October
Goal #1: Help those of you that signed up for the Academy get more customers.
You guys invested your money into the course when you could have done other things with it. I really appreciate that and I want to deliver on my promise. My goal is to help you get quality customers for your business and get at least 10x the return on investment.
Goal #2: $70/hour average hourly rate.
That’s right! I’ve been aiming for $60/hour for a while now and I feel like I can step it up a little further. I also want to do this without actually charging my customers more. I’ll use the skills and knowledge I’ve learned over the past two years to get things done faster and better. I’ll also need to quote more jobs instead of working by the hour.
I know I’ve said this before, but I just want to re-emphasize the importance of setting goals for both your business and your personal life. It’s not always easy, but it will really help to guide you in the right direction and help you achieve the things you always wanted to.
After all, if you don’t have a goal, how will you know if you’ve succeeded? There is no success without a goal to achieve.
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