The handyman business is booming.
So, if you’re thinking of starting one, you could be on to a winner!
Check out these statistics:
In 2021, the average US handyman business generated over $50,000/year; some earned as much as $1000 daily.
And those figures are rising!
The good news is you don’t need years of experience or a collage degree to start a handyman business.
But you’ll need more than a toolbox to become a success.
That’s where this post will help you.
We’ll look at the pros and cons, the different services you can offer, how to choose your target market, how to charge, and how to beat your competition–plus your business registration options, license and permit requirements, handyman website designs, and effective and affordable marketing strategies.
And, I included some pro tips on automating your business using job scheduling and invoicing tools, and how to turn your customers into return clients.
So, keep reading–because starting a handyman business could be the best decision you’ll ever make.
We’re going to dive deep into how to start, run, and become a thriving handyman business.
But before jumping in, let’s see if the handyman business is right for you.
People often think that the handyman business is low-profit and unscalable.
They’re wrong, and here’s why:
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average handyman’s annual wage as $43, $180, or $20.76 per hour. It predicts wage growth of 8% between now and 2030.
But you’re not starting your handyman business to be average, right?
So, I dug deeper and found that many successful handyman businesses earn between $100-$125 an hour.
One example is Nicholas Ciano, owner of Go Green Cleaning & Maintenance, an exterior home cleaning business. After 4 years, Nicholas averages $20,000/month; now that’s more like it!
But how do you go from the Bureau’s average to Nicholas’s $20,000/month?
The answer is to focus on a specific high-paying niche or a target market; I’ll explain why and how later.
It takes a particular type of person to run a handyman business. Sure, a range of trade skills will help, but you’ll also require some necessary personal attributes.
In my 20 years working for homeowners, I found that while providing high-quality work is crucial, reliability and a helpful attitude were equally important for many clients.
Okay, let’s look at the basic skill sets required for the main handyman tasks and services:
A handyman business is straightforward to enter for anyone with a vast range of trade skills.
These include plumbing, carpentry, landscaping, decorating, and general property interior and exterior maintenance.
But what if you’re new to the game?
The good news is, you don’t need 20 years of construction experience to start a handyman business, because you can focus on one specific niche–such as hanging TVs or cleaning patios.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Handyman Business
Starting a handyman business offers many advantages, but running any business has some downsides.
Let’s begin with the good news:
Of course, the best part of being a business owner is you’re the boss. And the handyman business has many advantages over other industries:
There are some potential challenges to starting your handyman business, including:
If number 5 leaves you a little unsure, don’t worry; you’ll know how to create a marketing strategy for your handyman business by the end of this post.
And now that you have a feel for the handyman business, let’s check out what kinds of services you can provide.
Step 1: Decide What Services You Want to Provide
You could start your handyman business and offer a full range of services, but if you don’t have those skills, you can focus on one niche.
And focusing on one niche or smaller jobs is often more profitable than providing a full contractor’s service.
For starters, you’ll need less equipment, and you can create a marketing strategy for a specific audience.
Here are just some of the services you can offer as a handyman business:
Your first step in starting your handyman business is evaluating your skills, so you can create a marketing strategy for the audience that needs them.
Some handyman skills you could consider:
Before you choose your service, consider the following points.
Things like your skill set, experience, equipment requirements, and location can all help determine the niche you’ll choose. Let’s look closer at each:
When choosing your niche, consider if you’ll need specific licenses or permits to operate your business.
Depending on your service, licenses and permits come at local, state, and federal levels.
You can contact your local County Clerk’s office or research the Small Business Association (SBA) website to see if your niche needs a license.
Will your niche require special or expensive equipment, and can your initial budget afford it?
For example, suppose you start a cleaning business like Nicholas Ciano, owner of Go Green Cleaning & Maintenance. In that case, you’d need 12-foot ladders, pressure washers, a truck, a working-at-heights permit, and suitable insurance.
Before choosing your niche, check if you need specific skills (and if you don’t have them, can you get them in your location?).
Because having sufficient skills for your niche is crucial, as you can’t offer services you’re not qualified to provide.
For example, you might need a certificate in appliance repair to fix minor electrical appliances.
Your chosen niche will need sufficient demand in your local community to be sustainable and profitable.
One way to determine this is by researching your niche and location online.
For example, the search term “handyman deck cleaning Florida Keys” has a lot of handyman businesses show up in the search results, so you know there’s a demand in that area.
Once you know there’s sufficient demand, you can also check out your competitors to determine if there’s enough room for you by researching your niche keyword.
Here’s how you do it:
If you’re offering a handyman carpentry service (repairing fencing and decking), use the search term “handyman fence repair + your location.”
Then look for:
Focusing on one niche is a proven way to start a new handyman business. Still, you can offer a complete handyman service if you choose a target audience, which we’ll talk about now.
Step 2: Decide Which Clients to Work For
Who do you want to work for, clients that pay $40/hour or $100?
You might think I’m joking, but now is when you choose your target market.
But before we look at your options, here’s what I’ve learned about picking clients:
The best approach is not to lower your prices to get work; instead, identify a target audience willing to pay what you need to earn.
With the proper advertising in place, you could get calls from commercial real estate companies, condominium managers, or contractors the moment you start your handyman business.
But they’ll charge a commission, so you’ll earn less.
While it can take longer to build your client list, I always found it more profitable to work for residential customers.
How far are you willing to travel?
It’s an important question, because if you travel one hour each way to a job and spend 2 hours on it, it might not be worth your while.
A better approach is to pick your location based on your target audience and then focus all your marketing strategies on that area.
For example, if you live in North Boston, use a name like “North Boston Handyman,” as that’s what people will search for on Google, Yelp, and social media.
Here’s where your niche matters, because people are only willing (or can afford) to pay so much for specific services.
For instance, assembling flat-pack furniture would have a lower-paying audience. In contrast, a solar panel cleaning service would attract higher-paying clients.
When you offer a higher-skilled service that charges higher rates, your clients expect top-class results–for example, cleaning chandeliers (yes, that’s a handyman business) is different from fixing a leaky faucet.
You can only offer a service like Ollie’s chandelier cleaning service if you’re confident you can meet your client’s high standards.
I don’t enjoy working for clients who expect without appreciation; I’m, well, getting on in years.
If you’re like me, then choose a niche people will appreciate.
For example, some people need help installing LED energy-saving lightbulbs, moving heavy furniture, or unblocking a toilet, and I’ve found those clients often appreciate you the most.
Step 3: Research Your Competition
Your competitors can provide a wealth of inside information on starting and running your new handyman business.
So why not use it?
Just like before, put your chosen niche keyword into Google, and the top 10 handyman businesses will appear.
Next, look for the following information and make a list:
Also, research local handyman services on Google My Business listings to see what people say about your competitors. It’ll tell you what they do right or wrong and the services they offer.
Step 4: Know What it Costs - Understand Your Initial Budget
Most folks have a budget when starting a business, and you might be the same. The good news is, you can create a handyman business without breaking the bank.
An example of this is Caleb of North “Seattle Handyman.” He started his handyman business with only $5000 and now earns $250K/year.
The best way to understand your initial budget is to know what you need to start your handyman business and then calculate your running costs.
Your start-up costs will depend on your niche, whether you provide a complete handyman service or location.
But most new handyman businesses have the following costs:
Some of your initial costs will become ongoing ones, and as your business grows, you might have new ones–but those will be a sign of your success!
Ongoing costs could include:
Regarding office expenditure, many people run their handyman business from home, as you may be able to apply for a 20% tax discount on your home office costs. But always talk with a tax accountant before making any claims.
Okay, that’s what you’re spending. What about income?
Step 5: Decide How Much You're Going to Charge
What you charge for your handyman services is determined by the things we’ve already looked at in this post. Here’s a quick recap:
Those are what determine your fee; now, next is how you’ll charge:
Pricing models are how you charge your clients. You have 2 options, an hourly rate and a flat fee. Depending on the client and job size, you can use either, and some handyman businesses use both.
An hourly rate is when you charge for every hour you work and add materials.
Many handyman businesses use an hourly rate, as your clients know what they’re getting, making pricing jobs easier for you.
To work out your hourly rate, divide your ideal monthly income by the hours you can work. For example, if you need to earn $4000/month, working a 40-hour/week, that’s an hourly rate of $100/hour.
But that hourly rate may seem high to potential clients. Fortunately, there’s an alternative!
If you think $100/hour is too expensive for your local target audience, then you can use the flat-fee (fixed-rate) pricing model.
With the flat-fee pricing model, you work out the hours a job will take and include any materials, your travel time, fuel, and some profit.
Let’s say someone asks you to fix a leaking faucet. It’s a 30-minute job, 15 minutes of travel, and a buck for the washer.
You know an hourly rate of $100 + materials is too high for the client, so you give a flat-fee price of $100, including materials.
That covers your time, fuel, and materials, and you earn your $100/hourly rate for a 45-minute job.
Before setting your hourly rate at $100 or offering a client a flat fee, consider the following points to ensure you earn a profit.
When first pricing jobs, an hourly rate is more straightforward to estimate than giving a flat fee.
Flat fees factor in all your costs plus profit, but you could lose money if a job takes longer than expected, so think ahead before you price.
Flat fee pricing includes your material costs, so you must get those correct to quote the job accurately.
Most handypersons add a percentage markup of 10-20% to material costs to cover their time spent sourcing.
You must also include delivery fees in your flat fee; the same applies if using your truck and gas for transportation.
Transportation costs include your time spent traveling to and from a job, fuel expenditure, and wear and tear on your vehicle that might depreciate its value.
You won’t itemize these costs, but include them in your flat fee to ensure the cash is there when your work vehicle requires maintenance or upgrading.
When pricing a job using a flat fee, consider any specialized tools and equipment you might need to hire to complete it.
Include rental fees into your end price, and if using your equipment, add a fee to cover their depreciation value, similar to your work truck.
The level of expertise a job requires also determines the hourly rate or flat fee you’ll charge.
For example, you can often charge more for hanging internal doors than pictures.
You could offer clients a flat fee or by the hour and let them choose.
Another option is to price by the hour for big jobs and a flat rate for smaller ones, because smaller jobs at a flat rate are often more profitable than larger ones (there’s less chance you’ll price incorrectly). And when a client needs a job done, they’re often more than happy to pay you your flat rate to do it.
When pricing, you must also account for your overheads–like tools, your truck and insurance, licenses and permits, and marketing campaigns–because they’ll come out of your salary if you don’t.
To work out your overheads, first, add up your overhead costs for the year, then divide by 12; that’s your monthly overhead bill.
Then, divide by your monthly work days, and add your daily wage. The number you have is what you must charge to hit your income target.
You might be thinking, “but how do I know what hourly rate or flat fee to charge in my location”?
If so, great question, and you have 2 ways of finding out:
The first way to establish the handyman business rates in your location is to research your competitors’ websites. Most will advertise their rates, but if they don’t, email them asking for a quote relative to your niche.
The second way involves researching websites like Homewise.
You can use resources like Homewise to find the industry standard in your area, which you can then use as a guideline.
Step 6: Set Up Your Business: The Basics
Starting a business requires planning, sound decision-making, and a checklist to ensure you miss nothing that could derail you down the line.
That checklist includes:
A business plan has 2 purposes: To be your strategic guide, and to get you funding.
You’ll need a traditional business plan if you require funding so investors can assess the risk and your ability to repay.
A one-page business plan works if you have the funds to start your handyman business.
But both business plans must include specific elements to be effective.
As most handyman businesses work with their local community, it helps to choose a name specific to your area; plus, it’s great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Consider these questions when naming your handyman business:
For example, a name like “North Boston Handyman” would work better than “Joe’s handyman service” because prospective clients will search for a local handyman business.
A business entity (also known as a structure) is a legal classification that regulates how you run your business and pay taxes.
Choosing the proper structure is crucial when starting your handyman business, as it determines your setup and running costs, tax rates, management requirements, and your level of limited liability protection.
While there are several available entity options, most small to medium handyman businesses use one of the following 3:
Your choice of business entity often depends on your type of work and whether you’ll have employees.
For instance, a sole proprietorship is a great way to start if you provide minor services and work alone. But to scale your handyman business and hire staff, an LLC is the most commonly used business entity.
A sole proprietorship and partnership provide zero limited liability protection. Even if you register an LLC, it doesn’t protect you against specific claims or cover your truck and equipment.
For those, you’ll need business insurance.
Most insurance companies sell business insurance, so contact your home insurance provider first, as they might offer you a bundle policy discount.
The 3 most common insurance policies for a handyman business are:
It’s often more cost-effective to cover any minor damages to a client’s property or belongings rather than involving your insurance company. But you should always have insurance to cover more significant problems.
When you start a handyman business, you might be liable for federal, state, and local taxes.
Here are the most common handyman business taxes:
As a business, you must file and pay federal income taxes on any income you earn during the year. You can file your federal taxes on the IRS website.
Besides federal tax, almost all states impose a business income tax. However, each state has its tax laws, and you can find your state’s income tax requirements on the Small Business Administration website.
You must file and pay several federal employment taxes when you have employees.
These can include:
To operate your handyman business and provide your service, you might need some special permits or licenses at the local, state, or federal levels.
Most businesses require a general business license to operate within their jurisdiction and pay taxes. Business licenses come at 2 levels, local and state.
Your county might require you to have a business handyman license to operate; you can confirm that by contacting your local county clerk’s office.
Most states require you to have a state-issued business license that shows you’re approved to run your handyman business in that state.
And, some states require any business that earns over a specific amount while providing a handyman service to have a contractor’s license. You can find out if you need either by researching the CalGold website.
Businesses need permits to provide certain services or use specific equipment.
Each state has permit requirements for different business types, so research the SBA License and Permits page to confirm which ones your handyman business needs.
An EIN is a tax number, similar to your Social Security Number, but for businesses. You only need an EIN if you form a multi-member LLC, a corporation, or have employees, or if you want to open a business bank account.
You apply for an EIN through the IRS website. Or you can use an online service, like the one we offer here at Tailor Brands, and have someone apply for you.
Bonds are like an insurance policy; the difference is they cover dishonest acts by employees when working in a client’s home and help protect your customers in cases of disagreements and broken contracts.
Not all states require a handyman business to be bonded, but some do. You find out by contacting your local contractor license governing agency.
Bonds can cost around $200/year and cover up to $10,000.
Step 7: Set Up Your Website
Most new handyman business owners say their website is their number one marketing tool, and there’s a good reason. In fact, 99Firms.com reports, “Roughly 97% of people who use online search look for local businesses.”
But before you build your website, you must know how to design it to attract the right target audience and encourage them to hire you.
I’m talking about customer reviews, your project portfolio, social media links, handyman services list, style, and business name.
I mentioned earlier that you should use your location in your business name; here is a great example from Chicago Handy.
A proven marketing strategy is to target your ideal market–i.e., those you want to work for–then tailor your site to speak their language.
In the following example, the message is quality craftsmanship. I’m guessing CJ’s Handyman Services target market is middle to upper-class clients.
Mr Handyman uses a direct question on the homepage of their website to engage its visitors’ attention and provides a way for them to leave their answer.
Giving your website visitors a way to engage with you while on your website is proven to encourage job offers, so don’t miss this opportunity!
An easy-to-use website is essential, because no one wants to spend time looking for what they need.
And you create an easy-to-use website by only including the design elements required to convey your message, like:
And above all, ensure you use high-quality images of your past work to create a strong sense of professionalism.
Step 8: Start Marketing Your Business
A marketing campaign is how you attract, connect, and convert people into paying handyman customers.
And the more you target one audience, the better the results.
The good news is, besides your website, there are 3 free, powerful marketing strategies you can use to promote your handyman business.
Word-of-mouth marketing is when people recommend your handyman business to friends, family, and social media connections.
It’s free marketing that packs a powerful punch; in fact, a Neilson study shows that “92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising.”
That’s why you must ensure people positively promote your handyman business from day one.
Here are my 7 ways to encourage WOMM:
A Facebook page is another way to market your handyman business to your local community because many of your future clients use it to find, research, and contact local businesses.
And when you have a Facebook page with testimonials and past-project-before-and-after pictures, it helps create local awareness and trust.
How to set up your handyman Facebook business page:
Your cover photo should suit your target audience and your personality; USA Handyman’s Facebook page uses the stars and stripes. And it works; hey, their name’s USA Handyman!
6. List your services
7. Enter your detailed info
8.Create your first post
9. Invite friends and family to like and share your page
But what if you’re not a Facebook user? Well, that’s okay, but you must stay relevant on business directories like Google by creating a free business page.
Setting up a Google My Business account is one of the best ways to promote your new handyman business.
64% of people look for a business’s contact information on the Google My Business page. And, approximately 86% of people search for business locations on Google Maps.
Here’s what a handyman search result looks like:
It’s full of relevant information your target audience can use to determine whether to contact your handyman business.
Always share pictures of your past projects on Google My Business and ensure people include your business name in their reviews, as it helps with Google’s algorithm. Yelp is another popular platform for people looking to employ a handyperson.
Okay, guys, that’s it from me; thanks for reading. I hope I’ve answered all your questions, but before you go, here are those pro tips I promised you.
Pro Tips for Your Handyman Business
Experience is often better than hindsight, as it can save time and money.
So, let’s finish with several ways experienced handymen and women automate their businesses using software, enabling them to take it to the next level:
Software solutions such as bookkeeping, invoicing, and client scheduling help automate your business processes so you can work without too many distractions.
Trust me; they sure make life easier.
Efficient bookkeeping is essential to running your handyman business, but it can take up precious amounts of your time!
The solution is to use bookkeeping software that helps you track your transactions, log expenses, and share them with your accountant while you work.
2 easy-to-use bookkeeping apps are:
QuickBooks helps you track expenses, upload receipts, reconcile accounts, prepare statements, and view accounting reports from your phone or laptop. At the same time, it conveniently connects with your business credit cards and bank accounts.
Voted as one of the best free bookkeeping apps for small businesses that need efficient accounting capabilities, Wave covers the accounting basics, including expense tracking, accounts payable, and bank reconciliation.
Wave also syncs with your bank accounts and credit cards and tracks expenses and income from various streams.
Creating and managing invoices is another job that takes time and effort, but you won’t get paid if you don’t do it.
Here are 3 invoicing apps that simplify the process:
An easy-to-use invoicing app that sends estimates and invoices to your clients. Invoice Simple lets you track your invoices via the web using their iOS and Android applications.
Offers a free service that enables you to manage 100 clients with unlimited invoices. Some advanced features include auto-billing, time tracking, and branded invoices.
The app also integrates with over 40 online payment gateways and allows you to accept deposit payments.
With Xero Early plan ($12/month), you can create and send your invoices, reconcile all bank transactions and track your upcoming bills. Handy!
Scheduling is often the most challenging aspect when starting a handyman business.
For example, if you book 4 weeks ahead and the job you’re on runs over, you might have to reschedule 20 other clients!
That’s why you’ll need a software scheduling system that stores your future clients’ details and lets you contact them all at once.
HubSpot’s Meetings Tool syncs with Office 365 and Google Calendar, enabling you to display your availability to prospective clients so they can book your services online.
There’s also a form field you can add to your meeting page that collects client contact information, which you can add to your website and receive via email notifications.
Setmore is a free scheduling app and payment platform for creating a client booking page. It allows for multiple users and enables you to send appointment notifications and cancellations to customers who booked your service.
The Google contact form connects to your website’s contact page and collects your client’s information. You then use a third-party system (like Zapier) that links to your email, so you see everything you need before meeting a prospective client.
The takeaway is that the more you systemize your business, the easier it’ll be to run it.
Excellent customer care and client retention go hand-in-hand; here’s how you do both.
Customer service starts when a prospective client contacts your handyman business, and everything you do from that point should focus on retaining them.
Set high expectations early by maintaining regular contact and keep your customers informed of any changes to your schedule.
When on the job, ensure you provide quality work, be as unobtrusive as possible, keep your clients’ property clean, and update them on progress.
Clients appreciate a handyperson who makes a call back within a week of job completion, as it shows them you care about your customers and see them as long-term clients.
Callbacks often lead to more work, especially when customers are happy with the original project, and it’s an ideal time to ask for feedback and those all-important reviews on your Google My Business listing, Facebook page, and website.
It costs 5 times more to attract new clients than to keep existing ones, so it pays to give your customers a reason to be loyal.
One strategy to build your client list is to provide discounts on additional projects when you start your handyman business.
And as most clients have over one project they need fixing, by offering a small financial incentive, chances are they’ll ask you to do the rest.
Close supplier proximity is vital as it saves you time and fuel costs. So, try using suppliers with multiple locations in your state to have them on hand wherever you work.
And the more you use one supplier, the quicker you’ll get cash-saving tradesman rates.
With your marketing in place, it won’t be long before you tap your ability to make more money alone. When that happens, you could consider hiring someone–such as another skilled handyman, a business partner, or a marketing professional.
Skilled employees can cost you between $25-35/hour, and the most challenging part is finding the right staff.
The key is to hire people with your brand’s core values, train them up and give them the skills they need to get your work done.
Then, have them generate revenue while you work on scaling your business.
Alternatively, choose to outsource
Outsourcing is when you hire another business or freelancer to perform specific tasks, handle operations, or provide services for your handyman business.
Many handyman businesses do this to find skilled people while avoiding the cost of full-time employees.
The most commonly outsourced services for a handyman business are:
Over to You
Your new handyman business could be a part-time gig or full-time service with several employees.
The choice is yours. You can start small and often make more money doing minor work.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t scale; quite the opposite. All you do is increase your jobs and hire to meet the demand.
And remember, when you run your business well, then what you do for fun is running your business.
Enjoy the journey!
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.