How to Start a Handyman Business: Your Checklist for Success as a Full-Time Doer
Are you looking to level up a small handyman operation, or leave behind the 9-to-5 office life for a career where you can see the tangible impact of your work every day? Whatever your motivation, becoming a full-time handyman can be a fulfilling path for those who enjoy problem-solving, find fulfillment in hands-on work, and want to build connections in their neighborhood or city.
Of course, establishing a profitable and sustainable business requires setting the groundwork for success early. This preparation comes in three stages: establishing your unique handyman “brand,” making the business official, and getting the word out. Here’s what to be aware of at each stage in the process and our tips for rocketing past the competition.
Battle of the Tool Boxes: What do You Bring to the Fixer Stage?
When it really comes down to it, you need to be sure of two things when you become a handyman: that you have a unique skillset to bring to the table, and that there is a market for your services.
Perform a cursory Google search for handymen in your area to scope out the competition: are there a thousand others advertising their fix-all approach, or is the market more specialized? If you are skilled in many areas, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. There may be an opportunity for an individual who is able to tackle all of a client’s home improvement projects, from a leaky sink to repairing a front door.
Or, if the local market is glutted with this type of approach, consider focusing your business around a few services that you are highly skilled in and that will draw a sizeable profit. Knowing what defines your “brand” will help you develop a concise elevator pitch when you begin to advertise your business.
You need to be sure of two things when you become a handyman: that you have a unique skillset to bring to the table, and that there is a market for your services.
You should also set your pricing at this stage: consider your unique training and experience, but make sure to do your research and set your prices at a competitive rate. While you certainly want your earnings to reflect what your skills are worth, you also don’t want to be so far out of the range of what other handymen in your area are charging that customers are discouraged from doing business with you.
This is especially important in dense, highly competitive areas. If you’re the only handyman in a 50-mile radius, on the other hand, you’ll have a lot more leeway to charge a premium for the convenience of your services.
Making Your Handyman Business Official: Develop Your Arsenal & Get Equipped
Once you’ve zeroed in on your unique value proposition, it’s time to make your business official. This requires a few basic steps: getting properly licensed (if necessary in your state), obtaining small business insurance, and rounding up the proper tools to tackle any job.
The process for securing a business license will vary from state to state. In some states, you will actually need to have a contractors license in place to perform certain trades, such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. In other states, you will only need a license for bigger jobs, and in many cases you will not need a license at all. Visit your state’s contractors board website to get a better idea of the specific regulations in your state.
Next, it’s vitally important that you have a business insurance policy for handymen and contractors. While the cost of an annual General Liability policy can be prohibitive for handymen who are just starting out, episodic insurance provides a much more affordable alternative: through Verifly, you can purchase General Liability insurance by the month, the day, or even by the hour, ensuring that you are covered for accidental injury or property damage on every job that comes your way. As your business grows, you can level up from a by-the-job approach to a monthly policy that offers coverage 24/7.
While the cost of an annual General Liability policy can be prohibitive for handymen who are just starting out, episodic insurance provides a much more affordable alternative.
The final step in this stage, once you’ve covered your bases from a licensing and insurance perspective, is to get properly equipped. Focus on the basics and get kitted out for the jobs that you most frequently encounter, rather than purchasing expensive, highly specialized equipment that may only come into play once in a blue moon. While you may have to turn down or call in reinforcements on the occasional job in the early days of your business, this is preferable to making an investment in expensive equipment that puts you in the hole from the get-go.
Amplify Your Business Anywhere and Everywhere
The final and arguably most important step in getting your handyman business off the ground: get the word out! As the old adage goes, if a handyman does a bang-up job on every gig that comes their way and no one hears about it, did the gigs really happen? Maybe that’s not exactly how it goes…but you get where we’re coming from. Word-of-mouth referrals will be an important source of new business in your early days, so focus on providing exceptional customer service to each and every customer you work with.
It’s 2019, so you can (and should!) also take your marketing efforts online. Put together a basic website for your business that highlights the areas you serve. A focus on optimizing your website and business listings for local search is important to gain visibility among users who are actively searching for established handymen in their area. In keeping with this local approach, consider advertising your services on sites like NextDoor, HomeAdvisor, and even Craigslist. Wherever you choose to promote your services, make sure to feature testimonials from happy customers who can vet for the quality of your service.