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Apps and software for handyman business

How To Run Your Handyman Business Entirely From Your SmartPhone

Software and apps can make running your handyman business much easier.

In fact, since I started my handyman business, I’ve operated almost entirely from my phone, only using my desktop for monthly accounting and marketing purposes.

When it comes to managing customers, quoting jobs, taking notes, tracking payments, taking credit cards, or scheduling, it’s all done on this amazing little device they call an iPhone.

No paper what. so. ever.  I like it that way.  And, the best part is that all of this software is so affordable that anybody can use it.  For example, the main App I use to run my business only set me back $12.99. (now it’s only $5.99)

Not only does this technology save me some serious paperwork headaches, it adds value to the customer and makes my business more efficient.

So, if you’re still walking around with a notepad, a schedule book, and a rolex of your customers, it’s time to upgrade.  Here’s how to do it for practically no cost.

Step #1:  Get A Smartphone

Personally, I’m a fan of the iPhone.  It’s easier to use, more intuitive, and has better apps available than the alternatives.  For example, the app I use for all my customer management is only available for the iPhone.

Based on this article in Forbes.com, developers make more money developing apps for iOS.  Since it’s more profitable to create apps for the Apple platform, it stands to reason that more quality apps will be released for the iPhone.

Now, my intention isn’t to sell Apple phones.  Any smartphone will work.  But, if you’re trying to figure out which one to get, I’d go iPhone.  There’s very little chance you’ll ever have app envy.

Step #2:  Choose A Customer Management Software

This is the most important and helpful app of all for simplifying your operation.  A good customer management system will not only keep track of your customers, but it can even keep track of you.

Uses:

  • Track customer information for future reference and easy access.
  • Send pre-formatted quotes to customers via e-mail
  • Send receipts to customers via e-mail.
  • Track paid and unpaid jobs.
  • Keep a list of invoices and customer history.
  • Schedule jobs for customers.
  • Manage Appointments.

There are two apps that I have used and recommend.  ServiceCall and Breezeworks.  Here’s a little about each.

ServiceCall Icon for Service Call iphone app

(iPhone only)

ServiceCall is really easy to use and extremely cost effective at only $5.99.

This is currently what I use and I’ve used if for the last 4 years.  I love this app.  There is certainly some room for improvement by adding some more functionality and features, but there’s also something to be said for the elegant simplicity of it.

ServiceCall can do everything that I’ve listed above.  And when it’s time to do your accounting, you can simply e-mail yourself a file of all invoices for the month for easy processing.

BreezeworksBreezeworks Handyman Software Icon

(Available for iPhone and Android devices.)

Breezeworks has all the functionality of ServiceCall plus some other awesome features.

For example, you can sync it with Quickbooks and even take credit cards directly through the app.

There are several other bells and whistles that can make running your business easier as well.  Download it to check them out.

There is a small monthly cost for this software, but it is a better overall software than ServiceCall and has more support and features.

Not sure which to choose? I’d recommend downloading them both and trying them out – then see which one you prefer.

Step #3:  Get a Credit Card App

Square Payment Icon

Credit cards apps are awesome because they turn your phone into a credit card processing machine.  There are several to choose from and two of the most common are Square and Paypal.

Personally, I’m a fan of Square because they pioneered the industry and I’ve had a great experience with them.  All I have to do is plug in the reader to my headphone jack, take a payment, and within a day the money is in my bank account.

Square is easy to setup and the app is free.  You just need to pay a small processing fee (less than 3%)  each time you take a credit card.

Step #4:  Get Familiar With Note Taking Apps

Icon for Evernote

Just like everything else, there are many apps to choose from for taking notes.  I use a combination of the native iPhone note app and Evernote.

Evernote is awesome because it automatically syncs with your home computer, tablet, or laptop so you can see your notes on any device. That means you can add a note on your phone while on the job, then pull it up on your computer later that night while writing up an estimate.

This is probably one of the most valuable free apps out there.

Uses:

  • Take job notes during a quote.  (you can even include pictures in the notes)
  • Keep a running list of supplies needed from the store.
  • Keep a running list of customers to follow up with.
  • Create checklists for common tasks.

Step #5:  Download Google Maps

Icone for Google Maps

I always think it’s funny when customers start explaining how to get to their houses.  Like I’m really going to write down directions when I’ve got a GPS in my pocket.

As far as apps for navigation, Google Maps is the best one.  iPhones come with a native Maps app, but it’s not as good as Google’s version.  Not only does Google Maps NOT sound like a retarded robot, but it’s addresses seem to be more accurate and up to date.

You can just use the native iPhone Maps app, but after showing up in a completely wrong part of town once or twice, you’ll probably take my advice and download Google Maps.

Uses:

  • Guided navigation to your customers’ homes.
  • Finding local hardware stores.
  • Finding local restaurants for lunch.

Step #6:  Setup Your E-mail

I’m not sure if being able to check your e-mail from your phone is a blessing or a curse. But, many customers want to communicate via e-mail instead of over the phone so you’ll want to be able to check it from your phone.

If you’re using an iPhone (and probably any smartphone), you can set it up to sync with multiple e-mail addresses.

So, if you have separate personal and business e-mail accounts you can have them both download to your phone.

And that’s it!

As you can see, running your business on your phone is simple and cost effective.  Obviously, if you have employees things get a little more complicated, but for the one-man show like me, it’s a breeze.

Do you have any other recommendations for Apps that help you run your handyman business?  Share them in the comments below.

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  • Jim October 30, 2014

    Great post Dan, thanks!

    • Dan Perry October 31, 2014

      No problem, Jim. Glad I could help. Please let me know if there are any other topics you’d like me to cover.

    • Andy June 15, 2016

      Hey Dan,
      Great information. I have actually been using my Samsung Note 3 to run my business for the past few years. I just enjoy reading your blogs from time to time to see if I can improve my business or make it run easier and more efficient. One app that you didn’t mention was Joist for my billing purposes, check it out or for some of your readers it may be the right app for them.
      Keep up the great work,
      Andy

      • Frank McAvinchey September 4, 2016

        I just installed Joist the other day, but have not yet used it. Somebody hacked my phone, so I had to do a factory reset.

    • shawn Grider June 15, 2016

      Great post! I have been thinking of customer management and my phone. Thanks

      • I have been using Joist since I started my business. It is free and it is incredibly useful for estimates, invoices, customer management, and more! It deserves a look by anyone needing this type of app.
        Thanks!
        Dean

  • Deb October 30, 2014

    Great article. I have a Note2 and use 3-5. Servicecall and breezeworks sound perfecr for our business. For android I’m using capsulecrm. First 200 contacts at no charge. It syncs with multiple users. Not as robust as the other 2 but I make it work. For shopping lists I use out of milk. It also syncs. And another helpful maps app is scout. Gives better turn by turn directions than google maps which makes it extremely helpful when you are in an unfamiliar area. I love getting your emails and reading your posts. Thank for all your help and fabulous ideas.

    • Dan Perry October 31, 2014

      Cool, thanks for the tips and the kind words. I’m glad your were able to suggest something for phones outside of the iPhone.

    • Samantha Crowell June 15, 2016

      Deb & Dan. I work developing product for Dispatch.me, an early job management application. We’ve combined a CRM and scheduler in our app–it works on Android and iPhone. I’d love to let you guys try it out and hear what you think–I’m looking for knowledgable people in the space. If you’re interested you can email me at sam AT dispatch.me

  • Laila Atallah October 30, 2014

    Wonderfully helpful article, Dan! And, many of these resources seem to apply equally well to those of us outside the handyman biz. I really like what you’re doing here. Fantastic info & resources. I only wish I’d have a client who wanted to start a handyman biz as a passion or side biz. It hasn’t yet happened. Perhaps in time, and then I’ll know exactly where to send them.

    • Dan Perry October 31, 2014

      Yes, 90% of what I talk about on this blog is applicable to any service business. Thanks for keeping me in mind for your referrals and the kind words!

  • Matt October 31, 2014

    I also recommend Freshbooks for invoicing as it syncs with Quickbooks for your accountant and you can accept credit cards in the same app. Also, for directions, try using the Waze app. Google just bought it and it’s awesome – it re-routes you in real time based on traffic patterns to get you there quickest!

    • Dan Perry October 31, 2014

      Nice, thanks for the recommendations.

  • Andrew peri October 31, 2014

    Thank you for your great work !!!!

    • Dan Perry October 31, 2014

      Your welcome, Andrew. As always, I’m glad I can help.

  • Dee November 1, 2014

    ServiceM8 is a great Customer management APP – hasn’t cost us much at all – free for the first 20 jobs. Great all in one app including accepting money via credit cards etc. There are a few US based businesses using it. Iphone only though

  • Brian H. November 6, 2014

    Hi Dan: I concur with your recommended apps: EverNote, ServiceCall, Google Maps, and Square. I can attest to their usefulness.

    I’d like to suggest the DEWALT Mobile Pro (free-basic). Their calculators are unique and extremely helpful; the conversions are also valuable. other add-ons ($$)are available.

    I enjoy your sharing of experience with us. Keep up the good reporting!
    Regards, Brian H. / BJ’s Handyman Services; Erie, PA

    • Dan Perry November 7, 2014

      Cool, I’ll check out the DeWalt app. Thanks for the tip!

  • James Mason November 7, 2014

    Hey Dan

    Great post. I use a cloud based accounts program called Xero https://www.xero.com/au/homepage/ which is pretty cool, let’s you take photos of receipts and real time bank feeds so purchases can be reconciled on the go. Dropbox and Google Docs also come in handy for my day to day bookings and inspections.

    All the best James.

    • Dan Perry November 7, 2014

      Xero, never heard of it. Looks like a good option though. Thanks.

  • Tara Hills January 13, 2015

    Hi Dan — we just got ServiceCall because your great recommendation. Thank you so much! We are not tech savvy so this was a really valuable piece of advice for us. Quick question — you had mentioned in your post that whatever customer management program one uses, it should, in addition to a number of things, “Send pre-formatted quotes to customers via e-mail”. We don’t see that function in ServiceCall? Just booking appointments, sending invoices and keeping a client database. Any insight?

    • Dan Perry January 14, 2015

      Tara,

      When I’m talking about sending pre-formatted quotes I’m referring to the same thing as sending invoices. In the ServiceCall Options I change the title of the document to Quote/Invoice and then before I send each one, I just edit the heading to either say quote or invoice depending on which one it is. It’s kind of a workaround but it’s a simple thing to change.

      Hope that helps.

      Dan

  • Steven Caudill March 9, 2015

    Thanks for all the great info and posts. I have an Android phone so the app I use is called 4W. It can’t do invoices but everything else is there. I also just got an app called handyman calculator. It seems to have a lot of potential.

    • mike June 12, 2015

      Ive been using most of the apps.mentioned for a couple years.or more w/exception of Service Call and Breezeworks, gonna check those out tho. Nice to run across helpful sites that arent trying to scam for $$$, not all are.
      I was going to make mention of the Handyman Calculator until finally seeing it mentioned. That app was a god send (still is and continues.to add on) with so many different calculators, never has one NOT been correct. If.youre not familiar with it i highly recommend checking it out, i think youll be surprised, unless youre one.of those Mathematicians who love doing the number thing, I dont have time to ; ‘ )
      Great Site

  • Aaron Alt August 1, 2015

    Hi Dan,
    After reading your article I’m thinking about buying an iPhone. However, I’m wondering what kind of desktop you use (pc or mac) and if it matters when you need to sync between phone and computer?

    • Dan Perry August 2, 2015

      I use a Mac. I’m a big time Apple fan. I used to us a PC but converted after I quit my engineering job.

      Your iphone will still be able to sync with your PC, but it won’t be as seamless.

  • flavour dos Santos April 21, 2016

    Hi thanks for the grate info I never new that I can use smart phone to this extent, from now on I will take grate advantage of this grate technology.
    thanks

  • Kevin Leipsic June 16, 2016

    Great summary! Can we provide a link to this article in our newsletter? Although most of clients are homebuilders and or artisan contractors, we do have several handyman customers. Our core services include Legal, Financial and Insurance Services for California Contractors.
    Thanks! Kevin

  • Kevin Leipsic June 16, 2016

    ZOHO CRM is also a great app to track and manage projects. It can be customized very easily for handyman work and I know of several small business owners that use the FREE version of ZOHO CRM to manage and track their projects and clients.

  • Tait June 21, 2016

    Thanks for the update Dan,

    I am able to use Quickbooks as an ok CRM and it manages quotes and expenses as well as invoicing from the smartphone.

    You should check out Asana as well. Its a task manager but it updates easily for notetaking, you can add a due date and time that links with your calendar and you can email in your tasks by forwarding correspondence with clients. It has a widget for Android so you can see it at a glance on the screen. Its also free (for under 15 people in your group)

  • Toyin June 26, 2016

    Great to hear people talk of success. I am new and just about starting the business. It would be great to have some models help through the process

  • Eric Harris July 28, 2016

    Dan,

    I would like to thank you for your well thought out and written articles. I use Joist App which allows you to keep a customer database and a line item database (materials or labor) for building estimates faster. It allows you to build and email estimates to your customers as well as apply discounts should you have the need and it also allows you to convert an estimate to an invoice. When converted to an invoice you are able to track how you were paid, credit card, cash or check with check number. It tracks paid and unpaid invoices and I believe it can be exported to quickbooks. This works on both Apple and Android and automatically syncs to all of your devices and the best part is it is free to use. I just wanted to give another option to people.

    Thanks,
    Eric

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