Starting your own business based on a built-in set of skills is one of the most fulfilling projects you can undertake. Starting a handyman business is no exception — with an expertise that’s always in demand, there’s no wrong time to get a handyman business up and running.
But there are a few things you’ll have to consider first, including local laws, insurance, registration, and business strategy. You’ll also need to think about marketing and a digital presence for your business, along with determining a customer service strategy.
Keeping these ideas in mind, read on to find out how to start a handyman business.
1. Licensing and Business Laws
Some states have licensing laws for owning and running a handyman business. While other states don’t require handyman licenses, they might require credentials for other similar work like remodeling projects or other major carpentry work.
Most states have something called a “minor work exemption,” which is the dollar amount handymen can charge customers without needing a license. This exemption also limits projects that unlicensed handymen may perform. The exemption limit is typically around $500.
Check with your state to ensure you have the proper licensing when planning out your new business. While you won’t always need it, licensing will help convince your customers that you have the experience and professional awareness to handle all of the jobs you’ve advertised.
Another business law to keep in mind is incorporation. Incorporating your business means that it becomes a separate entity, disconnected from the founders or employees. This type of organization is different from a general partnership or sole proprietorship.
2. Choosing a Business Name
Choosing a business name seems like an easy step, but it’s one that can ruin a business before it’s off the ground if you choose the wrong one. Bad business names can be off-putting to customers and, once you’ve picked it out, be hard to fix.
When thinking about your business name, you should pick something that will look as good on your business registration as it will on the side of a van. A short and slick branding is memorable, easy to find, and will look great on your site and marketing material.
Remember, first impressions are important to potential clients looking online for companies to help with their home projects. If your name is unprofessional, too long, or hard to remember, you can count on drawing in fewer customers than you could if you had a short and catchy name. Business names seem like a minor detail, but they’re among the first things a client sees.
3. Business Registration and Insurance
After choosing a name, you should register it with federal, state, and local registration agencies to register for a tax ID to open banking accounts for your company. Different registration steps depend on the type of business you want to run.
For example, an LLC must be in your registration and business name if you want to run a limited liability corporation, which most handyman companies will want to use.
You’ll also need to register for insurance. Insurance is obligatory for handyman businesses. You have to think about the safety of your employees, customers, and any potential property damage. Look into affordable but comprehensive insurance plans for businesses.
4. Finding Good Employees
Running a business isn’t a one-person job, so you need to make sure you have a reliable team to support you and carry out the work.
But finding a good handyman for your team can be tricky. It’s all about striking the right balance between skillfulness, friendliness, and dependability. Customers expect handymen to execute their tasks with a high skill level while also working safely inside people’s homes.
You can also reach out to local trade schools to find students looking to become handymen or local workers. Another good strategy for hiring is to look for employees who are eager to learn and grow. Once an employee wants to learn, they can gain almost any skill.
When thinking about employees, you also need to think about what you can afford. You should budget for the right number of employees. As you grow more profitable, you can have more members in your team.
Before making any hires, you’ll also need to look into state and local requirements for hiring. Some areas have specific requirements that employers or employees have to meet to be eligible for employment.
You also need to plan for hiring and onboarding processes, salary and benefit amounts and plans, and training. These are all critical parts of developing and keeping good employees who will represent your business well.
5. Choosing a Niche Market
Choosing a niche market means everything from picking specific projects to work on to directing your business to distinct kinds of clientele. A niche market might be a more upscale service, working on more expensive home repairs.
A niche market could also be working exclusively on small jobs. The majority of contractors and handymen don’t like to take small jobs because they believe they won’t be worth their time. But these small jobs build up over time into a much larger market.
A niche market will help you to stand out and create a reputation for yourself with customers. Rather than competing with other handyman companies that focus on general remodeling and construction projects, your business could scoop up a niche, which will help you stand out.
6. Creating a Business Plan and Strategy
Your business strategy is the sum of your services, clients, and overall handyman business model. These elements come together to form a roadmap for how you want to develop your business, expand your market and customer base, and make profits as soon as possible.
When trying to figure out what you’ll charge for your services, start by thinking about your overhead costs. Calculate how much you spend on things like insurance and workspaces, as well as labor and materials costs, and how much you’ll need to make a profit.
Another way to build an effective business strategy is to make your business stand out from other handyman businesses. The handyman market is a crowded one, but there are a few ways for you to draw customers to your company and away from the competition.
While licensing for most handyman projects is optional, you might help draw in more clients if they can see that your company has licensing, insurance, and bonding. That way, they know their property and your workers will be safe in your hands.
Something else you’ll need to think about is funding for your company. There are a couple of different methods you can use, including bootstrapping and external funds.
Bootstrapping, which is a popular method with small companies in skill-based professions like handyman businesses, is the process of using profits from previous jobs to buy new equipment and materials as you go.
If you’re planning on having multiple employees right away, you might want to think about external funding like small business loans. These types of loans often come from the government and exist to help business owners start-up successfully.
There are also opportunities for other kinds of external funding, such as investors or other loans. There are typically investors at the community level interested in helping to grow small businesses.
Numerous companies find success with the bootstrapping method. But a small business loan gives you the ability to buy what you need right away, like new supplies and materials for projects, along with things like uniforms and marketing materials.
Something else to consider for your business plan is your pricing model. Will you charge per project or on an hourly basis, or will it depend on the type of work? This question is one you’ll need to think about and one you’ll probably end up going back and forth on as your business grows.
Many handyman businesses use a hybrid model like this, where standardized projects, like assembling standard pieces of furniture, are charged at a flat rate, and more significant repairs are hourly. Planning out these pricing models is a part of determining what kind of work you’ll do best.
7. Building a Customer Service Plan
One of the easiest ways to guarantee repeat business and word-of-mouth growth is to make your customer experience easy. Customers who have a quick and painless experience working with your team and company are likely to tell their friends and neighbors or reach out again for new projects.
Think about starting by making appointment scheduling and payment completely digital. Customers don’t want a hassle to start or end their relationship with your business. Plus, it’s much easier for you and your customer to keep track of payment processing online.
Another pain point that many service companies deal with is not communicating with clients clearly and directly. Clients, particularly for in-home service projects, may want to leave specific notes and instructions for the handyman completing the job.
8. Marketing Your Business
In the modern business era, having an online presence is the most significant aspect of marketing your business. The days of looking up a company in the White Pages and calling to book an appointment are over, but business owners are sometimes reluctant to modernize.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most powerful tools for small and medium businesses that exist today. It’s all about using specific keywords in your market to drive customers to your site or social pages to generate leads and business.
Active social media accounts, especially Instagram, can help show off some of the work you’ve done for other customers. You can also give home repair tips and ideas on your social accounts to get customers interested.
You could also encourage and incentivize your customers to review your business on Google or Yelp to raise your ratings and show other potential customers how popular your business is. When other potential customers see that your business has strong ratings, it helps to stand out.
9. Using Handyman Business Software
To learn how to make all of these steps easy, check out handyman business software. Business software makes it easy to keep track of clients, payments, and business visits. The software helps to keep things handy and organized while you and your team are out on calls.
The handyman business software also helps to keep track of things like customer notes, codes, or house key locations, and what work your client wants to be done. This level of organization is equally useful for both you and your clients.
Instead of keeping these notes and information in separate places, you can easily store them in software designed for that purpose. Handyman software is user-friendly and beats having to look at multiple spreadsheets or documents just to find your client’s service order.
Now instead of having to keep all of this information in separate locations, you can keep everything organized in one place while you’re out at work. This software is an easy and inexpensive way to keep all of your information handy when you’re starting.
Starting a handyman business is a great way to make use of the talents and experience you’ve gained from working in the industry or that you’ve picked up from working on plenty of projects around the house.
Once you’ve considered all of these ideas and strategies, you can start trying to get your company up and running. There’s no one way to run a handyman business, but there are plenty of decisions to make.
You’ll need to think about how you want to fund it and how you’ll plan your projects. You could also consider how you’ll choose a market that you can specialize in and how you’ll best work with those customers in that market.
Once you’ve considered all of the points above, you can dive into getting your business up and running with the help of handyman business software like Workwave, which will make keeping everything in one place that much easier.