IT’S NOT HOW YOU SWING THE HAMMER
A successful handyman has so many requests for work that he turns a lot of work away. How do you become this busy? You have to perfect your rapport with customers. He or she is able to sell the job requested through bidding backed by knowledge of what a job entails in terms of time and cost of materials – they see the whole picture.
Running a handyman business is done successfully in the moments when the hammer is not in the hand. The truly excellent service becomes excellent through an understanding of the market, targeted advertising, and unparalleled customer service. There’s a lot of talk out there about your business.
REMEMBER: YOUR CUSTOMER HAS MORE MONEY THAN TIME
Most handyman jobs will cost the consumer so much that they’re going to take the time selecting a good service. They’ll shop around using the internet. Consumers of handyman services are smart, stubborn, and pro-active.
They’re not walking into a barber shop and letting the person do the work, whoever it happens to be. They’re looking to really be a boss, since they’re probably going to be spending a bunch of money on whatever the work is. That said, the handyman industry is unique in that most people who bother to call a handyman probably have more than one job that that person could do for them.
They’re looking for someone who can become a regular go-to guy when something goes wrong. In a world where information is ever more easily accessible, and people are ever more easy to research, consumers of handyman services will head to the net first thing when looking for a handyman.
BLOW IT ONCE, AND SINK THE WHOLE SHIP
The fact is that there are more negative reviews out there than positive ones. People get angry, quick, when a job takes too long or goes over budget. People get angry, quick, when a handyman seems like he or she is blaming the customer in any way, shape, or form for the failure of a particular job.
Don’t let worrying about unwittingly taking work from a tyrannical employer who stands over you with their arms crossed, frowning, when you try to rescue a pipe that’s retreated back through the drywall. In situations like that, the handyman should respectfully assert themselves – say, hey, what can I do to make you more comfortable with the work I’m doing.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that you’re going to have to bite the bullet and make a job right even if the wrong wasn’t on your end. That’s the fundamental truth about customer service that will sink the contractor who doesn’t get it. The trick of how to make a small business successful, especially a handyman company, is by being offering the best customer service around.
GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE: YOUR REPUTATION
You’re going to have to see every job as a chance to build a reputation. No job is too small. If someone needs you to walk their dog on the job, do it. Don’t charge them for it. Leave them a business card and a nice note that says, “Please leave positive feedback on my yelp site” with a dog treat.
No joke. You will get more work as a result of a positive reputation. A bad reputation is worse than no reputation, but no reputation is far worst than having even one or two reviews; the key to having a successful small business is getting your customers to sell you.
Remember, you’re dealing with a consumer segment that knows it’s paying you big money, and that people running a handyman business have a reputation for dragging people along through contacts that make the handyman and client want to murder each other. Make reputation building a major part of your handyman business plan.
BIDDING: BE SPECIFIC…BE DETAILED.
Ambiguous bids and no mention of rigorous timelines are the death of your starting handyman business. Whether or not it’s a simple home repair business or a plumbing agency, the two things the client wants to know are HOW MUCH and HOW LONG.
You have to give them competitive answers to both these questions, and your answers must be right-on, or god help you. Some handymen have caught on to how vital the bidding process is, and have developed bidding schemes that provide peace-of-mind for the client through such a detailed estimate that it can almost seem like too much.
Handyman rates per hour, if you wanted to look at it that way, depend highly on your ability to bid handyman services accurately and wisely. This handyman sounds like he practically included the price of his chewing gum in the work estimate, but I like his style.
As a General Contractor trying to “stand out from the crowd” during these challenging times doing commercial and residential building repairs and maintenance work and small to mid sized renovations, I am in the habit of submitting relatively detailed estimates outlining the scope of work
I have been asked to quote on including a breakdown / timeline of the basic steps of the project from start to finish along with a rough outline of the materials I propose to use. I always indicate what portions of the job I will be hands-on personally and what I will be subcontracting.
I always verify my sub trades’ liability and worker’s compensation coverage. I also include separate sub totals of the materials, labour and truck charges, (mileage / material pick up and delivery / waste disposal).
I like to include dated digital pictures of before, during and after project completion so that we have a reference to look at if any questions come up about what was in and what was out of the contract, (this is where the detailed scope of work and materials document comes in handy too). It’s amazing how many little extras become topics of dispute when I do a job without a detailed written estimate.
My estimates always include a disclaimer indicating that it is the customer’s responsibility to obtain the necessary permits and inspections as required by the local authorities. This goes a long way to instilling confidence in my customers that my intentions are to complete the project by the book and that.
I am not afraid to deal with the “dreaded inspector”. I have developed a view that if my potential client does not want to deal with the authorities when the authorities should be involved, they’re probably not someone I want for a client. Liability issues, ya’ know what I mean?
As far a billing is concerned, I usually don’t ask for a deposit unless the job is going to involve a lot of materials which I will have to carry for more than a couple of weeks, or if the materials are special order and cannot be returned. So far, so good on this policy. I am also in the habit of progressive billing for time and materials on a weekly basis to maintain cashflow, (as I’m sure many of you can relate).
I have been criticized by colleagues that my estimates are too detailed and that this in fact could be the reason that I am unsuccessful with some of my bids. On the other hand, I have been complimented by customers telling me that one of the main reasons I was awarded the contract was because of my detailed estimate. It gave them a sense of security that I knew what I was talking about and had a well thought out plan for their project.
I am on the fence regarding these detailed estimates. They take a fair bit of time to put together but they also seem to be winning me contracts.