How to Start a Handyman Business

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How to Start a Handyman Business

Keeping up with home repairs and maintenance can be a challenge. Not only do home and property owners need to have the time to make repairs and improvements, but they also need the skill set that each task requires. In many cases, they turn to handymen to help.

According to Handyman Startup, when starting your own handyman business, you’ll want to think about the type of business you offer. Handyman services aren’t all the same, and it’s important to find a business model that works for you. Maybe you’ll want to focus on working just on weekends when homeowners tend to be home. This business model allows you to start this service part-time on the side while still working another full-time job.

Other service models may be a better fit. If you’re a versatile “jack of all trades,” then you could market yourself as a “do it all” handyman and build up your roster of returning clients. Remember that, depending on the type of work, you may need to hold multiple trade licenses.

Alternatively, you may want to market yourself as being a solution to niche needs. With this model, you can focus on perfecting one skill, like installing tile or installing TVs. You’ll only need to invest in minimal tools, and as you perfect the skill, you’ll become faster (and better) at the work. This can help increase your profits, as long as you choose a specialty that there’s plenty of demand for. Marketing becomes even more important in this service model since you’re less likely to have returning customers and may need to constantly work to drive new business.

Working as a handyman can be a rewarding venture, especially if these are skills that you’re already using to improve and maintain your own home. Maybe you’ll even come up with your own service model and do something completely different to stand out from the competition.

Business Overview

Handyman services businesses offer a variety of maintenance and repair services encompassing everything from very small tasks to much larger projects. Handymen are often regarded as being talented in multiple areas of building repair and maintenance; a single handyman may be able to put up drywall, install a tile floor, fix a leaky faucet, and much more. When compared to professional contracting services, plumbers, and electricians, handymen typically have lower rates, but they also lack the licensing required to do larger projects in these areas. Instead, they’re sought out as an affordable solution when a project doesn’t require a specialist or when a building owner can’t wait for a specialist to be available.

Handymen businesses are typically hired by homeowners, but they may also work for property managers. Some property managers may hire handymen through ongoing contracts, hiring them to perform monthly maintenance and tasks. Homeowners are more likely to hire handymen only on occasion as the need arises.

Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, the handyman service franchise industry experienced a 5.7% growth from 2014 to 2019. This growth was largely driven by the expansion of the construction industry during that time period. An increase in per capita disposable income also meant that more homeowners could afford to hire maintenance and repair help rather than take on their own work. It’s expected that this growth will continue from 2019 to 2024, but at a slower rate. It’s likely that both residential and commercial construction will continue at a higher rate, but that growth will slow. This should mean increased opportunities for handyman businesses.

As of 2019, the handymen services franchise industry was a $5 billion market. A total of 1,586 businesses employed 19,641 people.

 

Industry Trends

Jobber Academy’s 2020 Home Services Trends Report identifies several trends that are affecting the handyman industry. One of those trends is that businesses will increasingly use marketing platforms that provide measurable results. While 75% of home entrepreneurs rely on word of mouth as a source of new clients, businesses can harness the use of platforms like Google My Business, Google AdWords, and social media to get measurable results from their marketing.

Customer-facing technology also stands to transform home service businesses. Software that helps with tasks like sending quotes and invoices, collecting online payments, scheduling jobs, and even sending client reminder texts and emails can make businesses more efficient while also making them appear more professional.

This software can also help businesses to adapt to one of their customers’ growing preferences: According to this report, 46% of customers want to be able to schedule appointments using email, an online platform, or a mobile app. However, only 38% of home service entrepreneurs offer online booking, identifying a major opportunity for a change that could help businesses better appeal to their customers. By adopting online booking, businesses can stay competitive and save time on their scheduling, too.

Target Market

Handyman services typically market to homeowners and property managers. A business may choose to specialize in a certain type of services, like renovations, small repairs, or large carpentry projects that may change your approach to marketing.

Skills, experience, and education useful in running a handyman service

Starting a handyman service doesn’t require a business degree, but some certain skills and experiences can increase the chances of the business becoming a success.

Repair and maintenance experience. Firsthand experience in building repair and maintenance is one of the most valuable assets that a handyman can have. Formal training or apprenticeship in the home repair trades is another great advantage that will leave a handyman well-prepared for some of the challenges of this career.

Scheduling and estimating skills. The ability to accurately estimate both the cost and completion time of a project is important and can help keep handymen profitable while preventing overbooking.

Customer service skills. Handymen need to be able to interact with customers professionally and address customer concerns. Experience or skills in customer service can help to retain returning customers.

Attention to detail. Details matter in building repair and maintenance, so handymen need to be focused and attentive to ensure their jobs are done correctly and well.

Problem-solving skills. Handymen work on many different projects, and they can never know just what to expect from a job. Thinking on their feet and identifying and solving problems can help them impress customers and do quality work.

Management experience. If business owners plan to hire a team of handymen or apprentices, previous experience in hiring, training, and managing employees will help.

Costs to Start a Handyman Business

Handyman services are relatively affordable to start, especially since handymen can invest in additional tools and supplies when they are needed. If you’re starting from scratch with no existing supply of tools, plan to spend about $5,000 plus the cost of a vehicle.

Common startup costs for a handyman service include:

  • Basic tools and equipment such as a tape measure, ladder, drills, saws, pliers, socket wrenches, screwdrivers, utility knife, hammers, stud finder, vacuum cleaner, etc.
  • Inventory and supplies for each job
  • Business supplies like invoices and business cards
  • Website
  • Truck or van and possibly a trailer

Checklist Starting a Handyman Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own handyman business, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here is a checklist of the essentials to get started.

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your business should be to write a business plan.  Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan, but multiple studies have shown that a business plan helps increase the odds of starting a successful handyman business.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 2: Name the Business

Finding the perfect business name for a handyman service can be challenging. Not only does the name have to resonate with your customers, but it also has to be available to use.

Related: Tips and ideas for naming a handyman business

Step 3: Form a Business Entity

A business entity (also referred to as a business structure) refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.

When deciding on which business entity is best for a handyman business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.

A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.

That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.

The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.

Related: Guide to forming your LLC
 

Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.


Some popular LLC formation services include:


IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!

ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Step 4: Select your Location

Most handyman services can be run out of an existing garage or basement. If a business grows to encompass multiple handymen and vehicles, it may be necessary to rent a garage. Rental costs will depend on factors like the property’s size and location.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Licenses and regulations for handyman businesses vary from state to state, county to county, and even town to town. Most states don’t require a general handyman license, but depending on the type of work, they may have to.

In Illinois, for example, a handyman business doesn’t need a state license, but if you are going to perform certain types of work such as plumbing, electrical, or roofing, licensing will be required. In some towns, a contractor’s license will be required to do work in each town work is being done, so it’s important to check with state, county, and local licensing requirements.

Related: What licenses does a handyman need?

Step 6: Find Financing

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a handyman business is another.  Funding to start a handyman business can be difficult.  To get a small business loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to personally invest 15-25% towards the total start-up costs.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your small business and personal finances in separate bank accounts is important to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.
 
Many banks offer free business checking accounts, so be sure to find a cost-effective option for your business.

Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

While word-of-mouth and customer referrals can drive some traffic to businesses, it’s also important for handymen to market on their own too.

Important marketing activities include creating a website, social media marketing, direct mail, print advertising, and online marketing on sites like Craigslist, Facebook, NextDoor, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Signage on your vehicle can also make a low-cost marketing activity that will be seen by potential customers, especially while parked at the customer’s house, and the neighbors ask about the quality of work.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

One important task while working on the marketing is developing an online presence. A website developer may be out of the budget, but Wix makes it easy for non-technical people to get a website running quickly and affordably.

Step 9: Get Business Insurance

There are several types of insurance to consider when starting a handyman business. A few of these include:
General liability insurance (sometimes referred to as handyman insurance) protects the business if a customer is ever injured due to the handyman’s work or property damage. This type of policy can help to cover expenses like legal fees and medical bills.
Worker’s compensation insurance helps to cover expenses like lost wages and medical bills that can occur if an employee is ever injured while at work.
Commercial auto insurance helps to cover related expenses if the business’ vehicle is ever in an accident.

Like the business’ location and the value of its vehicle, multiple factors will affect the cost of these policies. To get the best idea of insurance costs, request quotes from multiple providers. Don’t just look at how the premiums compare, but be sure also to consider other elements like coverage limits, exclusions, and deductibles.

Step 10: Hire Employees

While many handyman services are run entirely by the business owner, it’s also possible to hire employees and expand the business’ capacity and income. According to PayScale, handymen earn an average of $22.79 per hour or $45,000 per year. That income can range from as little as $28,000 per year to as much as $67,000 per year.

Payroll is just one of the expenses that come with hiring staff. A business will also need to budget for the cost of paid time off, health insurance contributions, and worker’s compensation insurance.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 11: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system for your handyman business is critical to the long-term success of your business.

Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government, but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.

Related: Setting up the accounting for your business

The thought of accounting can be intimidating for a lot of new entrepreneurs. There are a number of ways of handling bookkeeping, from DIY to hiring a bookkeeper. These include:

- Pen and paper - Low expense, but difficult to track.
- Spreadsheet - Low expense, but easy to make errors.
- Accounting software - Medium expense, but owner typically inputs expenses. Some great accounting software programs include Freshbooks or Wave Accounting.
- Hire a bookkeeper - Higher expense, though very affordable at $100-$200 per month in most cases. A dedicated bookkeeper will probably save money because, in addition to handling all of the bookkeeping (so you can focus on the business), they also provide personalized tax advice and ensure the business is in compliance.

Find bookkeepers in your local area or use a service like 800Accountant.

How much does it cost to start a handyman business?

Handyman services are relatively affordable to start, especially since handymen can invest in additional tools and supplies when they are needed. If you’re starting from scratch with no existing supply of tools, plan to spend about $5,000 plus the cost of a vehicle.

Some common startup costs for a handyman service include:

– Basic tools and equipment such as a tape measure, ladder, drills, saws, pliers, socket wrenches, screwdrivers, utility knife, hammers, stud finder, vacuum cleaner, etc.
– Inventory and supplies for each job
– Business supplies like invoices and business cards
– Website
– Truck or van and possibly a trailer

How much does a handyman business owner make?

Handyman services can see different profits depending on their location, the type of services offered, and even the years that the business has been in existence. Home Advisor reports that handymen charge between $77 and $155 for smaller jobs that only take one to two hours to complete. Larger jobs can cost $300 and up. As handymen become more experienced, they can charge higher prices, too.

Are there grants to start a handyman business?

It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a handyman business. If you search for small business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.

Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.

What is the NAICS code for a handyman business?

The NAICS code for a handyman business is 236118, which is classified as a Residential Remodeler.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code and how to find yours

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