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How To Start A Handyman Business!

If you have been laid off, during these tough economic times, need additional income or are just tired of working for someone else and if you consider yourself to be a handyman*, then you might want to consider putting your skills to work, to earn additional income, by starting a handyman business.

*Although we use the terms "handyman", "handymen" and "handyman business" throughout this article, by no means are we excluding handy women. The terms handyman, handymen and handyman business are not to be considered to define a gender and they apply equally as well to women who are handy at home improvements, repairs and are comfortable in a workshop environment.

There are two alternatives for starting a handyman business that the home handyman can consider and they are not mutually exclusive. In other words you can start one or both of these handyman businesses!

  1. Handyman Service Business:
  2. Even during tough economic times there are homeowners and small businesses who are looking to renovate or need home repairs and maintenance. In many cases these individuals want to take advantage of the poor economy to obtain excellent prices on material and labor costs.
  3. I am not suggesting that you become a major home or business renovation service. But there are many people who do not know which end of a screwdriver to use. While this may sound ridiculous to a reasonably competent handyman, but it is reality. There are many individuals who cannot change a light switch, install a ceiling fan or change a door knob. These people pay high prices just to have these simple handyman tasks performed.
  4. Depending on your abilities and the projects that you enjoy, Following are some of the simple handyman business services that you can provide:
    • Replace light switches and receptacles
    • Replace light fixtures
    • Install ceiling fans
    • Interior and/or exterior painting
    • Wallpaper hanging and removal
    • Seasonal removal and installation of window screens and window glass
    • Change furnace filters
    • Repair and/or install new faucets in kitchens and bathrooms
    • Replace kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
    • Install new door hardware
    • Install new doors - sliding, mirror, exterior
    • Install paving bricks
    • Patio construction
    • Deck construction
    • Replace circuit breakers and fuses
    • Installing weather strip
    • Adding caps to chimneys and vent pipes
    • Install new kitchen cabinets
    • Install bathroom vanities and cabinetry
    • Backsplashes
    • Install flooring - hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile, vinyl tile, vinyl sheets
    • Refinish hardwood floors
    • Remove and refinish popcorn ceilings
    • Repair holes in drywall
    • Deck pressure washing
    • Siding Pressure Washing
    • Basement finishing
    • Outdoor lighting
    • Underground sprinklers
    • Carpet removal
    • Trimming doors for new carpeting and flooring
    • Gutter repair and cleaning
    • Installing a new range hood
    • Install dishwashers and other major appliances.
  5. Once you have decided what handyman business services you want to perform, you will want to advertise. There are numerous free and inexpensive advertising mediums as shown below. In order to standout and attract attention be creative with your advertisement design.
  6. Advertising Your Handyman Business
  7. Free Advertising
    • Grocery store bulletin boards. Your ad should have tear-off telephone numbers on the side or bottom. Use your computer and add color. There is an array of free handyman clip art available on the Internet.
    • Visit local hardware stores (not a big box store) and see if you can leave some of your handyman business cards at the cash register.
    • If you are going to offer painting services, you can also ask your local paint and wallpaper retailers if they will allow you to place business cards at their cash register.
    • Contact local seniors groups and churches. Seniors are a group that need the handyman business services and are generally price conscious.
    • Small business is an area that is often overlooked by many handymen. If you are willing to work off hours, small businesses are often looking for someone to change light bulbs, ballasts in fixtures, painting, floor repair, install some shelving, repair a toilet or even a washer in a bathroom sink.
    • Tell everyone you know about your new handyman business and ask them to pass the word to everyone they know. Hand them a batch of your handyman business cards to pass out.
    • Consider offering your handyman business services as a prize in a local charity auction. You could offer 4 hours of handyman business services to the lucky bidder. It is great advertising, with no out of pocket expense to you!
    • Don't forget social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
    • You can also advertise for free on Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji.
  8. Inexpensive Advertising
    • Community newspaper classifieds are relatively inexpensive. Choose newspapers that operate in the areas that you would prefer to work.
    • You can create inexpensive handyman business colored post cards and do a mailing to the specific area that you want to work in. The post office can narrow mailings down to zip codes. People will save these types of cards for future reference.
    • Many communities have local business directories.
    • Consider joining your local chamber of commerce.
    • When you are working in a home, place a lawn sign on the front yard, close to the curb. e.g. "Joe's Handyman Services - 555 555-5555.
    • Use signage on your vehicle. These can be simple cardboard signs, that simply say; "Handyman Services", followed by your telephone number. These signs can be placed on the side and/or back windows of your vehicle.
  9. Tips
    • On the back of your business card, list the services that you will perform.
    • Go to paint, wallpaper and hardware stores in upscale neighborhoods.
    • It is not necessary to incorporate, but you should keep track of all your handyman business revenue and expenses.
    • You do not have to accept credit cards, however, it does make it easier for some people. You can, as an alternative to directly accepting credit cards, open up a PayPal account.
    • It is best if you set fees for the handyman services that you are prepared to perform, rather than charging by the hour. This provides some confidence to your customer that they will not be ripped off. e.g. replacing a toilet $65, replacing a faucet $40, installing a ceiling fan $40, replacing a light switch $35. There may be a few handyman jobs that take longer than expected, but there will also be projects that take less time.
    • You want referrals and although the quality of the work you do is very important, so is the way you performed the job. Spreading down plastic when you remove a toilet, wiping down the sink after you replace a faucet, vacuuming up after completing the job, show that you care about the homeowners property.
    • A small and inexpensive item that really goes a long way in customer satisfaction are disposable shoe covers. This provides you with the advantages that you do not have to work in stocking feet (steel toed shoes are a must) and saves time in removing and putting foot wear on and off. It protects the homeowner's floors and once again shows that you care about a client's property. You will be remembered!
    • Clean shaven or neatly trimmed beard, clean clothes, deodorant, etc., go far in the homeowner's impression of how you work. Look like a slob and they will assume you work like one!
    • After completing even the smallest job, ask the customer to recommend you to friends and relatives.
    • If at all possible, demonstrate or show the customer that the job is finished. Show the customer the new faucet, turn the water on and off, flush the new toilet.
    • It is best to have your handyman business call a cell phone, with a message feature, rather than your home phone, so that you can respond to calls while you are out and about. However, no one likes to have a workman in their home continually on their cell phone. So when working, either set the phone to vibrate, leave it in your vehicle, or turn it off.
    • An example of a good message: "You have reached Joe the handyman, I am currently working for a customer and wish to maintain my concentration on their project. Please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you."
    • If you are at home and answering the telephone. Do not have the kids yelling in the background or the TV set to loud.
    • Always carry a small notepad and pen so that you can write down anything that may come to mind or that a customer says.
    • It is generally best, at least at the beginning, to have the customer purchase fixtures such as sinks, toilets and faucets and have you install them.
    • Always ask what the project is before you arrive. e.g. If you are being asked to replace a switch, make sure you know what style and color it is. If you are repairing and/or replacing bathroom fixtures always carry extra toilet gaskets, valves, toilet bowl nuts and bolts and flex pipes.
    • Debris and garbage removal. In my opinion the handyman should remove all debris and garbage, it should not be left for the homeowner to lug out to the curb on the next garbage pick-up. A good job can be ruined a few days later when the customer has to place the old toilet at the curb for garbage pick-up. This is especially important if working for seniors or those who might have a disability, but I believe that all debris and garbage removal is part of the total job.
    • A new handyman business is generally not successful overnight. It takes time for people to call - don't get frustrated, continue posting your ads in stores and getting out and talking to people!
  10. What Your Handyman Business Will Require:
    • Vehicle: The size will depend on the type of handyman jobs you may be undertaking and the amount and type of tools and materials you may have to carry to the job site. If you are doing exterior painting you will need an extension ladder, this generally requires a larger vehicle.
    • Tools: Again, the handyman work you are going to do will determine the type of tools that you will require. Don't buy cheap tools. There is nothing worse than having to tell a customer that you have to come back because your drill is broken.
    • Have numerous spare batteries for your cordless power tools and always plug in the charger and spare batteries when you enter the property.
    • Use quality fiberglass step ladders. This your living and a twisted ankle or broken leg will not earn you any money.
    • You should also invest in a reasonable quality wet/dry vacuum cleaner, broom and dust pan. Having to borrow the client's carpet vacuum to clean up saw dust from a door you just trimmed will leave a lasting "bad" memory.
    • Supplies: You should always carry some basic supplies, relevant to the jobs or projects that you plan on undertaking. As an example; if you are going to replace switches and receptacles you should carry a couple of basic single pole, 3-way and a 4-way toggle and decorator switches and receptacles in white and ivory.
    • You should purchase assortment packs of nuts, bolts, screws, nails and washers. A neat vehicle is important, so that you can find things quickly. Invest in some plastic storage drawers and label them appropriately.
    • Heavy duty garbage bags and plastic sheeting are a must have. Rags, sponges and a pail if you are doing any work involving water.
  1. Making Finished Items:
  2. By no means are all handymen woodworkers and not all woodworkers would be classed as handymen. However, most handymen have some woodworking skills and those skills can be put to work to earn extra income, either as part of your handyman business or as an independent woodworking business.
  3. There are hundreds of items that can be made in a home workshop and sold in places such as flea markets and eBay. The following list provides a sampling of some of the items which a home handyman may consider making.
  4. Many of the items relate to what tools the home handyman might have available and/or be prepared to invest in.
    • House number and name plates
    • Bird feeders and birdhouses
    • Dollhouses
    • Toy chests
    • Blanket storage chests
    • Playhouses
    • Adirondack chairs, lounges and tables
    • Coat racks and hall coat trees
    • Toys
    • Bookcases
    • Bars
    • Arbors, trellises or pergolas
    • Benches
    • Beds
    • Landscape bridges
    • Dog houses, ramps and stairs
    • Gazebos and pavilions
    • Planters - window box and floor
  5. Making products has some advantages over having a "for contract" handyman business. By making products you are not committed to specific days and times. You can still look for employment and take the kids to school and pick them up. You determine what hours and how long each day or each week you will spend producing items to sell and it can be a sideline for extra income rather than a full time handyman business.
  6. Many plans, drawings and instructions are available in books and in magazines free of charge (check out your local library). This website provides free plans for a number of items.
  7. Usually the investment in the material necessary to build projects is small in relation to the price. If you are not working, your labor investment really doesn't matter.
  8. You can take finished items to flea markets to sell directly or as samples to take orders. You can photograph samples of your work and for a small amount place them on eBay for sale. You can build the items when you get actual orders.
  9. Besides flea markets there are county fairs and you can approach local garden centers for outdoor items such as benches, planters, landscape bridges and gazebos.
  10. You can approach local furniture retails with items such as coat racks and hall trees and in the same manner local pet stores may be interested in your dog houses, dog ramps or cat trees and houses.
  11. Consider offering a few of your products to a local charity auction. It is excellent advertising and your true out-of-pocket cost is minimal.

Financing Your Handyman Business:

Many people dream of starting their own handyman service business but do not proceed because they do not have the money to start. Don’t let your lack of cash stop you!

If you are planning on going to your bank to borrow some money to start your handyman service business you wil need a simple business plan. A business plan will provide your banker with a level of confidence that you have thought out the business and how you will be able to afford to pay back the loan.