Learn How To Start Or Grow A Handyman Business

The Importance of Mentors, Sticking To Your Guns On Pricing, and the Power of Online Reviews

It’s been a while since my last podcast, so I wanted to bring The Handyman Startup Podcast back with a bang!

In this episode, I interview Jim Copenhaver, a successful handyman business owner from Chicago, IL.

Jim has successfully built Punch List, a thriving handyman business that currently employs at least 4 full-time handymen.  But get this, he’s only been in business for a about a year and a half!

He obviously knows what he’s doing, that’s why I asked him to join me on the Handyman Startup Podcast so I could pick his brain and share his secrets with you.

Here are some of the things we cover in this episode:

  • Why finding a mentor can skyrocket your success.
  • The challenges of having employees.
  • How to hire and keep good employees.
  • Why milking the clock will actually lose you money in the long run.
  • Why Jim charges hourly for most of his services.
  • How to use the power of online reviews to grow your business faster than ever.
  • and much more.

Whether you are looking to go big and hire employees or just want to keep rollin’ solo, this interview is packed with golden nuggets of tips and advice that will propel you forward with your business.

After listening to the review, I’d love it if you’d do two things:

#1:  Leave a comment below telling me the most valuable thing you gained from this podcast.

#2:  Leave me a review on iTunes! (if you haven’t already)

Thanks for listening!

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  • Bryan October 16, 2013

    Dan thanks for the great content. I look forward to each of our Podcasts and feel especially inspired after your discussion with Jim. The hourly rate and trip charge does seem high but understand you normally get what you pay for. I live in a small town (about an hour from Boston) and don’t think that price point would necessarily work for me but we all need to do the math and see what makes sense for our situations. Keep up the great work.


    • Dan Perry October 16, 2013

      Thanks Bryan! I’ll keep them coming.

    • Jim October 18, 2013

      Hi Bryan-

      You absolutely get what you pay for. When I started I had the same feeling that the pricing might not work in my area either. I hear this over and over from people in the trades. The more confident you are the more people will pick up on that confidence. Folks want to work with a pro. Not someone who is unsure.

      I chat with an electrician who is in rural New York state. He has a large crew of around 20 guys. His prices are NOT cheap at all. Present yourself like a pro and folks will treat you as such.

      I think one key is deciding how much YOU need to collect to make your company profitable. Do some serious work on your overhead and direct job costs and see what it costs for you to complete a job. You will be surprised at the cost just to be in business.


  • Geoff October 16, 2013

    GREAT podcast. Jim story sounds like mine, been around the trades, first business failed and so on. The one thing that hit home was pricing and I wish I would have heard this podcast a year ago when I started PMG. THE ADVICE ON PRICING IS GOLDEN, like Dan said. I took a lot of notes, great info, Thanks Dan!

    • Dan Perry October 16, 2013

      Your Welcome Geoff!

  • Tim Griffith October 16, 2013

    Big D, Excellent pod cast!….your website is just what I have been looking for, for a long time. Very informative pod cast….great to here, pick the brain of, a successful, independent, handyman/business owner!….Learned a lot from your interview with him, very good question/answer session….Keep them coming, good work!

    • Dan Perry October 16, 2013

      Thanks, Tim. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Steve October 16, 2013

    Big D,
    This was a great introspective on how a business can thrive when you utilize all the tools at your grasp (experience, skillset, business knowledge, internet presence). This is all great “free” advice and I’m sure I’ll be applying it to my own business. Thanks again Big D.


    • Dan Perry October 16, 2013

      Your Welcome! Thanks for commenting.

  • Michael October 17, 2013

    How are you reading my mind Dan!

    Interviews are exactly what I was hoping you were going to do. You need to take a serious look and listen to Entrepreneur On Fire eofire.com. He has done over 300 daily interviews over the last 1 1/2 years. He publishes a new interview each day and gets them done in GET THIS 8 interviews one day a week.

    I believe this will be an amazing source of podcast downloads for you.

    • Dan Perry October 17, 2013

      It’s awesome to hear that you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment!

      I’m actually familiar with John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneur On Fire. He’s done an incredible job with his podcast. If interviews is what you like, I’ll do my best to bring you some more.

  • Ron October 18, 2013

    Dan excellent podcast , I appreciate your speaker saying that he sticks to his price and will not play the price game that some customers like to play. Trip fee is non negoitiable that is awesome advice for me because ,being a new owner I sometimes will sell my self short by waiving this fee if I get buisness from the customer. Now trip fee stays no matter what .Thanks for sharing

    • Dan Perry October 18, 2013


      Your right, it’s tough to stick to your guns when you are the one of the phone trying to help the customer.

      I mean, giving a small discount right off the bat is a great way to build a little trust and also encourage customers to buy. I actually think there is a good time and place for giving the customer a break, too.

      However, Jim has really helped a lot of us realize that sticking to your guns ALSO builds trust. When you are confident, customers can sense it, and since we are physiologically inclined to reward confidence with trust, it just makes sense.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Eric K October 19, 2013

    Hey, Dan
    Thanks for producing this awesome podcast. I liked what Jim said about managing expectations and sticking to your guns on your pricing. From reading your blogs, I’ve learned to do both. It’s like the expression “under promise but over deliver”. That really makes an impact on your clients. Also I’ve learned how to spot a bargain hunter right from the get-go. A huge red flag for me is when they immediately mention “getting a good deal” or they want to buy the material themselves. I’ve turned down three customers recently who were looking to get away cheap. I may not have gotten the work, but I feel more valuable and professional for sticking to my guns. Thanks!!

    • Dan Perry October 21, 2013

      Awesome, glad you liked it!

  • Bob Stahnke October 23, 2013

    Dan, thank you for that great podcast. It was very informative. I too am near the Chicagoland area. I love to price both ways. Bid by jobs or T&M. I also charge a trip charge of $40.00. Hourly rate is $45.00. I would love to hear about more marketing ideas.. BTW my first time posting.

    • Dan Perry October 23, 2013

      Hey Bob,

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll be sure to talk more marketing in the future.

  • Apanshka February 25, 2014

    It is best work to do..It is really successful business of the handyman.I really glad to visit on this site.I got very best information about the business of handyman.thanks for sharing all that great information about the handyman.

    • Dan Perry February 26, 2014

      Your welcome!

  • Gary Pastor February 28, 2014

    Dan, I carry a lot of screws, anchors and hardware, but occasionally I don’t have what I need at a job. If you have to step out to Lowes or HD, do you have any problem with adding that hour on the road and in the store to the final invoice? Have you ever had to defend it if you do?

    • Dan Perry February 28, 2014

      Hey Gary,

      I think it’s impossible to have everything you need on every job so it depends. If you feel like you should have had it, it’s a very common screw and you just failed to keep a decent inventory, then you probably shouldn’t charge for a trip to the store.

      However, if it’s something uncommon and something that wouldn’t make sense to keep in stock, then I’d definitely charge for that time. You can’t fit Home Depot in your truck.

      If your customer complains about it, drop the charge that time and inform that you will need to charge them for trips to the store in the future. Maybe they won’t hire you again because of it, but that’s ok. If you provide a good service there are plenty of other customers who would love to take that open slot in your schedule.

      Hope that helps!

  • Bob Stahnke June 28, 2014

    Still a great podcast. I remember it in October of last year. Please bring on the marketing. BTW i have also included pressure washing which has been quite lucrative.

  • David Lyons November 28, 2015

    Really in joyed the interview with Punch list handyman owner Jim Thank you for your service to the small business owners .I know that due to your web site I have gotten the encouragement to charge a much more profitable hourly rate and to bid jobs at a higher rate also .Before you I was charging a rate of an employee not of a business. what a difference . I feel so much better knowing I can make it and not just survive .

    • Dan Perry November 29, 2015

      That’s great to hear, David!

  • Chris Sabanosh.. Allpoints Handyman Solutions inc June 18, 2017

    Jim is right on point! I have a handyman business in SWFL thats been in business for 2 yrs now which also employs 4 people. I advertise in all local papers and online like yelp and Google. And I must say the first year was a struggle because I needed to purchase tools and any necessary equipment to get the work done. This past year the company cleared 6 figures and is still growing. I do want to add that if you can get involved with any HOAs or get on a subdivisions call list will help BIG TIME! Because most resident’s with HOA obligations WILL ask who they recommend first. Also I find alot of management companies and investment companies calling us for anything as little as a light bulb to full remodels. So get involved with HOAs and management/ investment companies and you will absolutely see your business sky rocket.