How To Start a Handyman Business: Expert Shares The Steps for Success
Maybe you’re great at doing odd jobs and want to start monetizing your skills. Or maybe you’re a skilled tradesperson looking to strike out on your own. Either way, you’re ready to take the next step and start your own handyman business.
Making the exciting leap from contractor to small business owner takes work and starting a successful handyman business means putting in the time and effort to start things off right.
From making a business plan to finding financing and making a marketing plan, we’ll walk you through some of the most important steps with help from expert handyman Ryaan Tuttle of Best Handyman Boston.
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What is a handyman business?
First things first — what exactly is a handyman business? Sure, you probably know the basics and you probably have some of the necessary handyman skills already, but it’s important to have a solid overview before you take the plunge.
A handyman business typically offers a wide variety of repair and maintenance services to residential clients. Most jobs are relatively small and straightforward. For example, replacing a shower head or installing curtains in a client’s home.
Unlike a tradesperson such as a plumber, HVAC technician, or electrician, handymen generally don’t require any formal training and instead learn from hands-on experience. However, some states require handymen to be licensed depending on the type of work they do or the monetary value of a job.
How profitable your handyman business is depends on a variety of factors like your pricing, costs, customer base, marketing efforts, and more. But the more steps you take to set yourself up for success, the more likely your business is to thrive.
Step 1: Write your handyman business plan
A business plan is a great way to outline the vision you have for your handyman business. It also helps to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and competitors.
Your business plan should include:
- Your business name
- The handyman services you plan to offer
- Who your target market is
- Who your main competitors are
- A marketing plan
- A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)
You can also incorporate a financial plan that covers your startup costs, pricing strategy, and how you plan to fund your business.
Step 2: Register your handyman business and get business insurance
Next, you need to register your business and get business insurance.
First, you’ll need to know whether you want your new business to be registered as a:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited liability company (LLC)
Most handyman businesses start as sole proprietorships because they’re the easiest and most straightforward structure to use if you’re planning to start out on your own, with no partners or employees.
You’ll also need a business license once you’re registered. This will allow you to run your business.
In terms of liability, you are taking on risks by offering services in clients’ homes, even if you’re only there to fix a squeaky door or replace a lightbulb. That’s where handyman insurance coverage comes in.
At the very least, you should have general liability insurance. However, depending on your business you may need other types of insurance as well, such as worker’s compensation insurance or vehicle insurance.
Step 3: Apply for handyman licenses and permits
Different states have different licensing requirements when it comes to handymen. While some states require you to have a general contractor’s license others have no prerequisites at all.
Make sure to check your state’s and city’s handyman licensing requirements to make sure you can legally offer your services.
It’s also important to look into any permits specific jobs may require. Since handymen typically cover small jobs, you should have a solid understanding of what’s within your scope and what isn’t.
For example, Ryaan is very familiar with his local laws and regulations, so he knows exactly which projects he can take on, and which ones he can’t:
“We do everything from changing light bulbs and replacing rotted out trim boards outside homes to painting rooms and swapping out air conditioners, but all we do is smaller projects, so, if a job needs a permit, we won’t take it.”
Step 4: Find financing
Handyman startup costs depend on what you need to get started.
For example, you probably have the basics you’ll need like a hammer, electric drill, and a few pairs of pliers, but do you need to upgrade your equipment or invest in better quality versions?
What about a company vehicle or marketing and advertising costs, like building a handyman website or hiring a contractor to run your social media pages on Facebook and Instagram?
Start by figuring out all of your handyman business startup costs. If you’re not planning to hire employees or contractors off the bat, rent an office space, or buy a ton of expensive, new equipment your costs shouldn’t be too high.
Once you know your total, consider how you’ll cover it. This could be through personal savings, a small business loan or credit card, or even a grant.
Step 5: Get your accounting in order
Small business accounting is made up of a variety of different tasks, including:
- Setting up a business bank account
- Tracking expenses and payments
- Handling payroll for employees and contractors
- Sending out handyman invoices
- Setting aside taxes
In the beginning, it might not make sense for you to hire an accountant to do these things for you. Instead, use software like Quickbooks, which can tackle just about any accounting task without the price tag of a full-time accountant.
While you will have to put in some work yourself, accounting software like Quickbooks makes it easier for you to manage and complete your accounting tasks.
Step 6: Create a pricing strategy for your handyman services
Pricing plays a major role in how successful your handyman business will be. First, you need to determine which handyman services you plan to offer. For example, will you focus on a niche or will you offer general home repairs?
As Ryaan explains, “Three years ago there were hundreds of new buildings and condos being built in Boston. There was a huge need for people to service those homes and condos.
“But, at that time, we were heavy into remodeling so we couldn’t service these smaller jobs or projects, and yet, every site visit we saw the same thing: people were asking for smaller jobs. We would be there to look at a kitchen or bathroom and they’d say ‘while you’re here can you please look at this tiny thing? Nobody will call us back or even give us a price for this because it’s too small of a job.’”
This helped Ryaan to identify a niche that he could fill. Now, his team only takes on smaller, straightforward jobs instead of those that require permits, like plumbing or electrical work.
Once you know where you want to focus your business, you can build out a handyman pricing strategy. This should be influenced by your services, competitors, the hourly rate you need to make, and any other expenses or discounts you plan to offer.
Having a plan in place before you start to reach out to potential customers will make it easier for you to provide consistent and accurate estimates and quotes.
Step 7: Make a marketing and advertising plan
Once you know which services you want to offer and who needs them, it’s time to build a marketing and advertising plan.
Many handyman businesses use a mix of:
- Social media pages
- Google Ads
- Yelp listings
- Business cards
- Postcards and emails
- Referral programs
Make sure to choose the methods you believe your target market will prefer.
For example, Ryaan uses social media to connect with his clients:
“People see social media and interpret it on a personal level. Business owners should get away from thinking about social media on a personal level and think about it on a business level. Use social media to grow your business, reach out to customers and peers, and making connections with others.”
You should also make sure that your marketing efforts fit your budget and you have the bandwidth to see them through. If you don’t have the time to run your social media pages or update your website, consider hiring a contractor or a part-time employee.
READ MORE: 17 best handyman apps
Step 8: Invest in customer service
Customer service is essential in creating brand loyalty and satisfied clients. It’s also a great way to build your brand reputation and generate referrals.
Ryaan makes sure that he creates a positive customer experience throughout the entire job by using Jobber to improve communication stay organized:
“When we go to jobs, we explain the process, explain the tech and handyman software we use, and show that everything in their work request is going to happen no matter what. It’s all in the system. It enhances the client’s experience.”
This helps Ryaan’s clients to feel comfortable with having a stranger in their home because it gives his business a professional vibe.
The happier a client is, the more likely they are to book your services again and refer you to their friends and family members.
Jobber’s app is a game changer in the field. Now we finish a repair call, hit a button on the app, the client signs and pays with their finger. Now I’m on the way home to spend time with my family, not the computer.
Step 9: Hire and expand your handyman business
Being your own boss is one thing, but eventually, as your handyman business grows, you might need to become the boss to others as well.
When your job calendar becomes too much for you to handle, it might be time to scale. Take things slowly and grow consciously.
Think about whether it makes sense for you to hire employees or contractors and whether you need to update or change your business entity to fit your needs.