How to Start a Handyman Business
The Handyman industry is having a growth spurt. Just this year it has grown by six percent. This translates to over 1.4 million handymen working their tails off in America.
With the average salary being close to $40,000 annually, this doesn’t seem like a bad gig.
And if you meet the following, you may be a perfect fit for the handyman industry:
- Your family and friends are always asking you for help in repairing things around their homes
- You are always building or repairing things around your own home (sheds, plumbing, painting, flooring, etc.)
- You enjoy the time you spend repairing and building
- You have a lot of tools that can help you perform many different tasks
- You get a lot of compliments on the items you build and repair
- Fixing and building just seems to come naturally to you, like they are your natural talents
- You are good at problem solving
- You want to provide great services at fair prices to secure repeat long-term customers
If you answered yes to these, you may be a great handyman.
But before you start charging people for your services, there are other factors to consider. For instance, being a handyman and being a handyman who owns his or her own handyman business are two totally different things.
Owning your own business is the better option for you in the long run. It means more money in your pocket, more control over your schedule, and you can choose the jobs you wish to work. To start your own business requires specific steps you must follow to protect you and your clients.
Let’s go through the steps, in the order you should complete them, when starting your handyman business.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Skills
Before you start your handyman contracting business, you need to have a good grasp on the tasks you can do well. In the beginning, you don’t want to take on challenging jobs that can lead to failure. You want to take the jobs in which you are confident. The ones that lead you to gain more experience before you venture out to harder jobs.
On average, these skills include installing flooring, repairing drywall, fixing small electrical problems, small building projects, painting, and small plumbing issues. These are examples to get you thinking about the expert skills you already possess.
Make a list of these skills and set it aside for now.
Step 2: Evaluate Your Finances and Fees
The good news is that starting a handyman business does not require you to go into debt. You can start with small jobs and put some of that money towards buying more tools and equipment, or towards marketing.
I can tell you from experience, though. If you are good at what you do, you won’t need much money for marketing. The word will spread like wildfire and your calendar will fill up quickly.
Create a monthly budget for the first few months of your handyman business. Write down how many jobs you will need to work in order to buy things you need.
This means you must determine the fees you will charge each client. In my research, I’ve learned it is best to go with charging a flat rate hourly fee. There are several ways you can figure out your hourly rate.
You can conduct a google search for handyman fees in your area. You want to be comparable to your competitors.
You may get more jobs by charging less money, but you will quickly realize your skills are worth much more. If you raise your prices too soon, you could lose valuable customers.
Let’s work through an example. Say you need $1000 to buy new tools. And, you plan to charge $50 an hour for the work you do. This means you will need 20 hours of handyman work to reach $1000. Now, all you must do is drum up 20 hours of work.
It is still not time to start marketing, though. There are more things you can do to set yourself up as being the number one handyman to hire.
Step 3: Join a Handyman Association
Becoming a member of a Handyman Association lets potential customers know you were admitted to a select group, one that promotes only the best handymen. It shows that you care about professionalism. It shows you want to do what you can to prove your integrity and honesty as a businessperson.
Plus, joining a handyman association gives you access to other important tools that can help you stand out from the crowd, like certification as a handyman.
Associations like the Association of Certified Handyman Professionals is a group who is constantly working to better the handyman industry. They offer certifications to handymen like you.
Step 4: Get the Handyman Certification
Certification gives you credibility. It says you have been judged by other professionals in the industry and they verify that you meet the standards of a professional handyman.
By joining an association, you can get your certification through their organization for a discounted price. This is not the only way to get a certificate, however.
You can take an online certification course, like the one offered by IAP Career College. The information below is from their site on handyman certification courses.
The course costs around $100 and provides you with a certificate you can show your clients.
It is easy to enroll in a course. You simply fill out the online forms.
You may not like taking courses online. If so, you may want to attend a handyman certification course at your local community college or trade school. You can receive in-person teaching, as well as access to professionals who can be great resources to you once you are working in the field.
Once you are certified it’s important to purchase liability insurance for your business.
Step 5: Purchase Liability Insurance
You may be thinking you don’t need insurance. You only plan to do small jobs that have a low chance of something going wrong. But let me tell, accidents happen, and you want to be covered when they do.
Let’s say you are installing flooring for a neighbor. Unexpectedly, the neighbor’s toddler comes running into the room, trips on a piece of flooring and lands on your hammer, causing a severe cut to the child’s eye. Later you find out the toddler needs surgery to fix the damage. Your neighbor sues you for the medical expenses.
Liability insurance can cover you.
Joining an Association gives you access to discounted insurance rates. You will need to provide information related to your business to start the process.
Within minutes, you can purchase the right insurance plan to meet the needs of your handyman business. You will usually be given several options.
Once you are properly insured, you can finish up the basics of starting a business. Getting an employer Identification Number can also be done online.
Then you can register your business with the IRS and set up your business account with your bank.
Step 6: You Are Ready to Market Your Business
Get excited because now it is time to spread the word about your new handyman business. As mentioned before, you do not need to spend a lot of money on marketing.
If you join an association, you will be listed in their directory so when potential clients search for handymen in their area, your name will appear. You can even run a couple of ads in your local newspaper.
But the number one way to market your services is through social media. Create Facebook and Instagram Pages, post pictures or videos on YouTube of you doing your job, and request referrals.
Here are a few fast stats regarding social media marketing:
- 71% of social media users who had a good experience with a company will recommend that company to others.
- 96% of small business owners report using social media to market their brand
- 83% of consumers prefer YouTube for social media marketing
The money you save by using social media marketing can go towards buying more tools and equipment. Or, you can save that money for tax time.
Yes, that’s right, you must pay taxes.
Step 7: Save for Taxes
The tax wardens, or the IRS, will want you to report and pay on the money you made throughout the year. Do NOT skip this step. They will find you; they will audit you, and they will punish you.
You may think, “I’m only accepting cash that is non-traceable”. I wish this could work for you. But guess what? Remember that little old lady who hired you to put that addition onto her garage? The one who is a stickler for paying her taxes ahead of time? The one that reports all improvements made to her home.
Yep, that one. She met with her tax guy and reported all the necessary information, including how much she paid you, to the IRS. When they cross-reference your tax documents, they will see you have not reported the same information.
Old lady- 1; IRS-1; You-nothing.
If you do handyman work for commercial businesses, like the county courthouse or police station, or the local jewelry store, they will give you tax papers at the end of each year showing what they have reported to the IRS.
Finally, be sure and save for social security taxes so when you go to retire, you will have funds available to you.
Step 8: Do What You Do Best
Okay so now is the time. You can start taking jobs as a handyman. While on the job, there are things you can do that your clients will appreciate. These are things not all handymen do but should because it makes you look like a hero in your customer’s eyes.
They are not things that are required, but they show you care about your client and their home. Here we go:
- Listen to your client. If they want to talk for 15 minutes about their children before they talk about the repairs they need, that’s okay. Don’t rush the person holding the check.
When they begin discussing the repair, continue to listen. This will save you from needing to ask questions later.
- Be a teacher when giving estimates (free estimates are always best). When you teach your client why they need the repair, rather than just telling them what to do, they can make better decisions. And provide clients with estimate details using a comprehensive form.
- Always clean your workspace before you leave at the end of the day. If you are leaving your tools at a client’s house overnight, make sure they are picked up and tucked away. The goal is to make sure their home and yard are as clean as when you started the job, even if you are not finished with the job.
- Never lose your temper with a client. It’s just unprofessional.
- If you screw up on the job, and it happens to everybody at least once, own it. Tell the truth and be up front with your client. You may have to eat the cost to fix your screw up, but that’s better than losing your client and your reputation.
Step 9: Have Fun
Enjoy the work you do. Be proud you can help someone with your talents. If you do not enjoy handyman work, you will likely burn out in a few years.
If you enjoy your work as a handyman, you will go on to have a long, successful career making money with your talents.