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Your Pricing Problems May Be Marketing Problems In Disguise

Are you stuck competing with cheap labor?  Are you struggling to generate a healthy profit because there are so many other handymen who are willing to do the same job for less?  Are you afraid that your bids are too high?

A while back, I wrote a blog post and discussed a simple tile repair where I made $225.  After publishing this post, I got an e-mail from one of my readers who said “There is no way I could charge that much in L.A.  There are too many illegal immigrants here to compete with.  Here, that job would only bring about $50.”

At the time of getting this e-mail, I thought he could be right.  Maybe I’m just in a better area that is less competitive for price and that’s why I’m able to charge more.  Maybe some areas just won’t support a high-end handyman.

However, I’ve realized since that this is not the case at all.  If fact, it doesn’t matter where you live, there will always be cheap labor to contend with.  There will always be somebody who is willing to do a job for less.  To the reader who wrote me this e-mail and to countless other handymen and contractors, this would appear as a pricing problem.

But, this isn’t a pricing problem at all, it’s a marketing problem.  Here’s why.

Good Marketing Frees You From The Price Wars

When considering this example and countless other pricing problems my readers e-mail me about, it always seems to boil down to a marketing problem.  Whether it’s somebody competing against cheap labor on price or somebody who is afraid to submit a bid because they aren’t sure if it’s too high or too low, it all comes down to marketing.

There are plenty of customers in need of a handyman service to help them with their next project or repair.  Some of these customers are looking for cheap labor, and some are looking for peace of mind or to save time.  Some are great to work for, and some will drain your energy as soon as you walk in the door.  I don’t care where you live, that’s just how it is.

Here’s where marketing comes in.  If you have a well executed marketing system in place, you will have plenty of customers and won’t have to worry about the price shoppers.  You’ll be able to confidently present a price that’s worth your time without stressing because you can afford to lose some leads.  If one person says your too expensive, that’s ok, because you’ll likely have plenty of other customers who are willing to pay your rates.  Or, even better, if you come across a job that isn’t worth your time, you can just let it go.

Every single successful handyman or contractor I’ve talked to has mentioned the importance of filtering your customers.  The only way you can do this and stay in business is by generating enough leads.

Aside from the fact that good marketing will increase the volume of your leads, it also has the power to increase your perceived value in the customers mind.  This is great because they’ll be willing to pay more for your services.  If a customer views you as a professional and an expert in your field, they’ll pay more for your time than they typically will for a less professional handy person.

Conversely, if you have poor marketing you’ll have a very different experience.  Since you don’t have an abundance of leads coming in, you need every job that comes your way.  This lack of business will create a mindset of scarcity, fear, and stress.  You’ll be tempted to lower your bids just to ensure you get each job, slowly positioning yourself as cheap labor.  This is not a fun place to be.  Instead of charging $225 for a tile repair, you could be charging only $50 as in the case above.

As you can see, marketing can be the difference between success and failure.

4 Essential Marketing Tips For All Handyman Businesses

Maybe you don’t know how to market your business well.  That’s totally cool.  I didn’t really know when I started my business either.  If that’s the case, it’s time to learn.  Here are some tips to help you get started.  Personally, I view all of these as essential.

#1 – Recognize that everything is marketing.

The first step to implementing a great marketing strategy for your handyman business is to realize that everything you do is part of your marketing strategy.  Marketing isn’t just what you do to get a customer to call you, it’s how you answer the phone, how you provide your service, what your truck looks like, and hundreds of other little details that all add up to the overall experience your customers have when working with you.

#2 – Look As Professional As You Can.

The more you can look like a highly professional establishment the better.  For some reason, customers tend to trust professionals.  To do this, spend some time branding your business.  Get a logo designed .  Install decals on your work vehicle.  Have some uniforms made with your logo stitched or screen printed on them.  Print business cards with your logo on them.  And lastly, make sure all of this matches for a strong branding experience.  What you look like may not make a difference in the quality of your work, but it makes a huge difference in a customers mind.

#3 – Build a great online presence.

Online marketing is the best way I know of to generate leads.  It’s how I got pretty much all of my customers and built my business.  It’s also how I got you to read what I just wrote.  Online marketing is powerful.  Use it.  But, don’t just throw up a cheap website and hope it works.  Learn a strategy that actually gets results.

At the very minimum, build a professional website.  But, if you really want to get results, I recommend you go beyond that.

#4 – Test, Test, Test.

Some brand new handymen will start a business and be booked solid in just a couple of months by taking the advice above.  That’s exactly what Justin Terrill from my last interview did.

But, that might not happen to you.  You may live in a more competitive area or a more rural area.  If that’s the case, keep on working and testing new marketing strategies until you get the results you want.  If you’re struggling to generate enough leads, read some marketing books, go to some conferences, and research new approaches.

Good Marketing Will Propel You Forward

A decade ago it was very difficult for a one-person service business to implement a good marketing strategy.  Unless you had a lot of money to pay marketers and business consultants, you had to rely on minimal ads and hope that word of mouth took hold.

But today, we live in an age where the playing field is as level as it ever has been.  Not only is there more information available, technology makes it so easy and accessible to build your own website, have a logo designed for cheap, and implement sophisticated marketing systems that run on auto-pilot.

Take advantage of what’s available to you and you’ll quickly see your pricing problems disappear.  It’s going to require work, but it’s totally worth it.

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  • John December 5, 2014

    Great article Dan! I agree that if you get in the mindset that most are underbidding then, a professional will stoop to that level. I live in the Greater Los Angeles area and I operate a handyman business. It’s true there is a lot of competition in a large city but, there is far more opportunity to get clients. Having an entrepreneurial spirit is a matter of finding solutions not stopping when an obstacle gets in our way. I’ve went from $35 an hour in July of this year to a current $55 an hour because, I have confidence in what I can do, admit my inexperience but, still willing to attempt within my craftsmanship level.

    I want to encourage all professional to constantly learn, learn, and learn. That way you can build confidence in what you do and remember, when you take a low paying client then, you are wasting time where you can be scouting out the ones who are willing to pay you well because they valve your time and their own.

    • Dan Perry December 6, 2014

      Very well said, John. I agree 100%.

  • Stanley McCall December 5, 2014

    Hi Dan
    I have been wondering if it is a good idea to post my rates on my web site or in my ads on Kijiji?
    I was thinking it would cut down on calls from people who are price shopping.

    What is your opinion?


    • Dan Perry December 6, 2014

      I recently posted mine for the same purpose but I still get a lot of calls where people ask me how much I charge as the first question. It’s hard to tell if it really cuts down on them because there are several other places a person could find my business online. As long as you are busy enough, it’s certianly worth a try.

  • Gary December 6, 2014

    Hi Dan,
    Good subject matter and article. I agree with John’s comments and mirror his remarks. I also have increased my rates. While there are times that I find I don’t hit my target goal, it is sometimes contributed to underestimating the amount of time a job will take.
    Some jobs are easily billed out at an hourly rate while others must be priced by the job. Many customers I find are not willing to accept hourly rates for certain jobs. Rather than loose those customers it is easier to to estimate those jobs as 1/2 day or full days etc.
    I agree that marketing oneself is key as well as good presentation and confidence. While many will not bother with smaller jobs, I accept them with a minimum two hour rates and often get in the door for larger projects or future customers.
    This Handyman business is a learning process full of challenges!There are a lot of opportunities out there, one just has to go after it and believe in themselves, plus have the skills to know one’s capabilities.
    Many lead services are also available at reasonable rates to list one’s business with. I use a few and get a good amount of work that way.
    Best Regards, Gary

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