General Handyman: 9 Ways to Improve the Way You Run Your Business

June 10, 2016


Between 2001–2015, US homeowners spent an average of $2,370 annually on home improvements. People are dishing out money for renovations, but can they find your business?

To take your handyman business to the next level, we present nine ways to give your business a big boost. (And most won’t cost you a dime.)

Do the Chores People Hate to Do

People who are uber busy are often thrilled to outsource not just the chores they can’t do, but also the ones they hate to do. One way to make yourself indispensable is to take on those dreaded jobs.

Think: cleaning out ovens, dishwashers and neglected closets and cupboards, defrosting freezers, moving furniture, organizing garages and doing paint touch-ups. Add these little services to your website or other marketing materials so clients start thinking about all the household problems you can help fix.

Widen Your Skills and Service Inventory

If you’re generally handy and have some training in skilled trades or other specialties, you’re in a great position to accommodate the typical jobs where a handyman is needed. But if you want to grow, maybe you should broaden your skill set.

If there’s a type of job that particularly interests you, consider taking additional training so you can offer even more specialized services for your clients later. For instance, think about upgrading a skill that complements one you already mastered, like using your carpentry skills to build an entertainment unit and your technical skills to hook up all its devices.

Related: Should You Go into Green Home Construction?

Promote Your General Handyman Specialty

If you have a special interest or skill in one to three areas of your business—like carpentry, technology, gardening and lawn services—simplifying your business to specialize in those areas can be a smart (and profitable) move.

You’ll be considered an expert service provider in that field and homeowners are often willing to pay a premium for a specialist. Once you have a trusting relationship with a homeowner, you have a better opportunity to sell some of your other services that fall outside your specialty—at your specialist rate.

Go the Extra Mile for Clients

Small businesses that grow exponentially are often the ones that exceed client expectations right from the start. Pay attention to the small things you can do to take your service to the next level.

That might mean presenting your own solutions when making a quote on a job, being willing to work late at night or early in the morning to accommodate a client with a crazy schedule or doing a bit work more than you quoted in order to go the extra mile. The small things really do mean the most when it comes to building a trusting relationship.

Hire an Apprentice/Employee

Are you wishing you had more appendages or more hours in the day to complete all of the jobs available? If you’re in demand, boosting your business by raising your hourly rates or hiring an employee could be a more long-term solution to business growth.

Often, the more people you have working for you, the more income you’re able to make. You might start out with a student or apprentice to shadow you before giving them their own clients. In time, you may have enough capital to hire staff with different skill sets to broaden your offerings.

Know When to Say No

It seems counterintuitive to spend valuable time with a prospective client to learn about a possible job only to end up saying no. But knowing when to nip a potential problem in the bud is a valuable skill in any business.

When you get a sense that a homeowner is interviewing multiple handymen to find the lowest price, badmouthing a former contractor or is vaguely explaining their home improvement needs, do yourself a favor, move on and find a more straightforward customer who doesn’t raise a bunch of red flags.

Charge Appropriately

How do you charge for the work you do? Most handyman businesses have an hourly and a flat rate for particular jobs. When determining how much to charge per hour or project, consider the following factors to be sure each job is profitable.

  • Time: Be fair to yourself about how long a job is going to take, including travel
  • Skills: Charge more for jobs with specialized skills, e.g. building a staircase vs. painting a fence
  • Preparation: Will you have to move furniture, buy supplies or otherwise prepare the work area? These are all considered billable time
  • Expenses: If you’re using pricey pieces of equipment, factor in the cost of wear and tear
  • Taxes: Consider the government taxes you’ll have to pay as a business owner and factor them into your price
  • Licenses: Do you have a particular license to do certain jobs? They probably have an annual fee, so consider the cost of maintaining credentials

Join a Third-Party Service Provider

One of the hardest parts of having your own business is pounding the pavement to find clients. If this is challenging, think about aligning yourself with a third-party service provider, such as Mr. Handyman, Trusted Pros, Handy or other businesses that broker jobs for you in your community. Sure, you might have to give a cut of profits in exchange for business, but it can also be a bonus to not have to worry about negotiating prices, sending invoices and doing time-intensive marketing.

Build a Great Website

We understand, you didn’t get into the handyman business to spend time hunched over a computer. But a simple, accessible website is often your best salesperson, so it pays to invest a little time in one. A free WordPress site is easy to build, maintain and update. All you need is:

  • A list of your services
  • At least one compelling reason a homeowner would hire you (i.e. list your training, credentials, skills, professionalism, etc.)
  • Your contact information
  • A professional headshot

Related: 19 Free WordPress Themes for Every Freelancer

It’s not easy to grow a small business—especially if your strengths are more hands on—but strategic decisions taken in baby steps often leads to long-term, sustainable growth.


about the author

Freelance Contributor Heather Hudson is an accomplished freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publishing, corporate and agency clients who depend on her to deliver high-quality, on-brand content and journalism with a fresh perspective. Learn more about her work at heatherhudson.ca.