How to Start a Handyman Business

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If you are particularly good at taking care of your house and derive pleasure in maintaining devices, flooring, and installations — you can earn money while doing so. A handyman, otherwise also referred to as a handyperson or a handyworker, is someone who is skilled to undertake repair and installation work, especially in residences. While petty electrical jobs and unclogging the pipes come to mind as the most common tasks that a handyman is called for, the truth is, they offer a wide range of services.

But before you embark on this mission to monetize your skills, you need to find answers to a few questions first. You should know exactly how to go about establishing a handyman business, how much money you should charge, what sort of tools you’ll be needing, and how you will be marketing yourself. Lucky for you, we have put together an exhaustive guide on how you can start your handyman business.

Understanding Your Handyman Business

Before you go about setting a handyman business, you have a fair bit of homework and research to do. From understanding your skills and deciding which ones you’ll be offering, to learning the about the law and putting a price to your service, you have a lot to figure out. Let’s take a look at a few things you need to do in order to better understand the business you are about to set up:

Evaluate Your Skills

A handyman is usually skilled at varied tasks and is expected to ‘fix-up’ just about everything. However, you should know that it is not necessary that you learn all the tricks in the book and offer customers the full range of services. You can offer limited, yet specialized services and still run a profitable business. What’s more, electrical and plumbing jobs are usually undertaken after obtaining a due license.

Look at it this way: isn’t better to do maybe, five things that you can do well rather than to do 15 things, of which 10 you have no experience doing? Hence, you need to assess your skills, identify the ones you are good at and zero in on the services you can offer. Then, on-the-job training will equip you with new skills just about every day. As you take on more work, your experience and thereby, the services you can offer, will also grow. For starters, focus on things you know best and can offer without any further training. Here is a list of skills you should evaluate yourself on:

  • Installations: Gadgets and hardware
  • Room/kitchen/bathroom remodelling
  • Attic cleaning
  • Repairs: Flooring, walls and doors
  • Painting
  • Roof cleaning and maintenance
  • Gardening
  • Plumbing: Installation and maintenance
  • Electrical Work: Installation and maintenance
  • Fencing

By no means is this list complete. If you can think of any skill you are good at other than the ones listed above — make sure you bundle it with your services.

Learn about the Handyman Laws

According to your place of residence, the law may vary. Knowing about the laws in your state related to the work of a handyman is important because certain jobs require you to have a license. The list of these jobs varies from region to region, and hence, you need to know exactly what the law says.

It is also important to note that you might need to procure more than one type of license before you start your business. Some states may offer different licenses for electrical, plumbing or HVAC work, whereas others might not. Similarly, some states require handymen to have a contractors license in order to take up jobs over $1,000. To be on the right side of the law, you will first have to understand it and that begins by learning about the requirements of a handyman in your region. You could consult a lawyer or visit the state contractors board website to get the required information. Make sure you have read the law, understood it and have applied for the relevant licenses before you proceed. You can get a basic overview of the handyman laws here.

Decide Your Charges

This one is tricky. How do you put a price on what you are doing? One way to get an idea is to consult other handymen in your neighborhood or asks friends and family about how much they usually pay for the services of a handyman. A quick look at Craigslist shows that handymen charge anywhere between $10 to $100 per hour. But why such a big variation in the scale?

A lot depends on how skilled you are, how much handyman experience you’ve already collected, your efficiency levels and how your clients view your work. Factoring all these components in a single number can be a daunting task, but in order to drive a successful and profitable business, you need to do the math. You may decide to bill your clients by the hour or per project depending on its duration, but you need to define a way to calculate the cost of your services. You may choose to offer a steep discount in the initial days to get more clients, but make sure you do not work at below-market rates for long.

Lastly, friends and family may require your services frequently and might try to get you to work for free, because, well, they are family and friends and expect special privileges. However, decide on a discount amount anywhere between 10%-25% and make sure you clarify just how much the job will cost them. Remember, you are running a business and your livelihood depends on it. Furthermore, the services you offer have a tangible financial value and you must ensure you get the same.

Establishing a Handyman Business

With the basic research and preparation covered, it’s time to get to business. Setting up a handyman business requires you to get the paperwork in place, invest in tools and give a framework to your handyman business. Here are more details on the process:

Get the Required Documents in Place

As mentioned earlier, laws related to the profession of handymen vary across states. But, in addition to licenses, you also need several other legal documents and permits in order to operate your business. You also need to come up with a name for your business that you will be using to obtain the said licenses and permits. Go for a name that is easy to remember and also reflects the value of the services you will be offering. The following is a basic list that covers the most common and important documents you will be needing:

  • Business license
  • Certification of Incorporation
  • Business insurance policy
  • Contractors license
  • Tax-related documents
  • VAT number and certificate
  • Local Licenses: Building, plumbing and electrical work

Furthermore, most of these licenses are allotted for specific periods of time and need to be renewed before they expire. If you plan to hire staff, in addition to the above-listed documents, you will also be needing ACHP certification, a non-disclosure agreement, employee agreement, company bylaws, operating agreement and other related documents. Remember, the industry is a highly regulated and has strict checks to ensure that only certified individuals can take up work. Hence, complying with the law is essential to prove your credentials and run a smooth business.

Buy Essential Tools

Once you have received approvals and permissions, it is time to invest in some sturdy and reliable tools that you will be needing on the job. You will have to incur an expenditure in proportion to the number of services you are offering. To start with purchase basic kits and tools, and do not buy expensive specialized machinery that you might not be using as frequently. You can slowly stock up your collection of tools as you work on the job, and make sure you check the price difference between new and used tools before going ahead with the purchase. Sometimes you get can expensive tools for a bargain on online sites and yard sales.

Depending on the quality and variety of tools you own already, you will need to invest anywhere between $500-$2,000 in order to fully enable yourself to offer the services you have enlisted. This might look like a steep price, considering you haven’t even started your business yet, but this should be considered an investment for the future. Lastly, go for reputed and trusted brands when picking tools. Savings few bucks today on tools might look tempting, but might not be the best decision in the long run.


Marketing Your Handyman Business

You are now at a stage where you can begin offering your services to clients. If you are completely new to the job, your initial few projects should ideally not be very ambitious in nature. Then, learn from your mistakes and expand the scope of your clients. Here’s how you can then build on your business:

Identify Your Customers

Before you rush out to distribute your newly printed business cards, spend some time talking to handymen who have been in the business for a while. Ask them on ways to scout for new customers and if they can connect you to boards or networks that assist handymen in findings regular work opportunities.

In the initial few months, you might have to slip in the fact that you offer handyman services in as many conversations as you can. But, be smart and target the right customers. Keep a record of everyone you have worked with and engage with individuals who are willing to offer you flexibility and a decent pay. Do not undervalue your own services by lowering the price of agreeing to unfair work terms and conditions. Cultivating a group of loyal clients who regularly hire your services is a good way to earn a stable and predictable income.

Find Ways to Market Yourself

In addition to maintaining a client list, listing on local directories and job websites you need to find new ways to reach out to new customers. Setting aside a small sum for marketing and advertising related expenditures is ideal. Here are a few ways in which you can market your business:

  • Focus on getting your ads placed in interest-based, hyper-local magazines and journals.
  • Set up a booth or stall at any local event in order to let people know of your brand and services.
  • Incentivize referrals by offering discounts to clients who refer you to their friends and family.
  • Set up social media accounts for your business and ask friends and family to help in promoting the same.

These are some textbook ways to help you business grab more eyeballs. If your budget allows, you should go for even bigger marketing campaigns and hire consultants to help promote your business.

If you have to put a number to it, setting up a handyman business, including obtaining licenses, insurance, permits, getting business cards and logo, buying tools and advertising will cost you anywhere between $4,000-$5,000. A majority of this amount will go towards licensing fee and formalities. You can, however, recover the initial investment within a month or two of going into business, provided you get regular work and you are paid on time. Remember to keep a track of every income and expenditure, and file it under the relevant sections while filing taxes.

The biggest factor that can make or break your handyman business is your reputation. If you are offering quality services at an affordable rate, people who have availed your services will naturally call you back. Once you have built a reputed business and are getting more work than you can handle by yourself, you should consider hiring others as well. This will obviously increase your role, because you will have to ensure quality work, manage schedules, and look for more clients in addition to working as a handyman — but the results will be well worth the effort. Being a handyman isn’t easy by any means, but if you want to be in control of your work, set your own work schedule, decide your own wages and most of all, enjoy it, you should consider starting your own handyman business.


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