Being able to complete odd jobs and act as a handyman is a skill set that naturally lends itself to making money. Indeed, many people do just this and have even started their own businesses as a handyman, either part-time or full-time. But, getting this type of business off the ground can be more difficult than you first expect.
At the same time, figuring out how to make more money as a handyman isn’t as simple as it first sounds. Instead, many people find themselves stuck making low profit and not getting many clients. This post takes a look at tips and tricks to make more money, regardless of whether being a handyman is your entire source of income or just something you do on the side.
You Don’t Have To Do Everything
Handymen are typically viewed as a ‘jack of all trades’. As a result, many handymen offer services in whatever people need. But, doing this can be ineffective and can limit your income potential.
For one thing, doing every job imaginable means that you will be doing some work that pays relatively little or that is incredibly stressful. At the same time, you may simply be less efficient at some tasks than at others.
To make more money, you can choose to focus on a specific task or a narrow area of options. A good place to start is to think about areas that you are particularly skilled in or where there is significant demand.
For example, one direction might be to specialize in gardens and gardening. So, instead of work in the house itself, you may focus on everything that is related to gardens, including the removal of green waste, mowing lawns and planting. Such a focus could be especially relevant in communities that have a large number of elderly residents, as they may struggle to maintain their gardens. Or you could decide to focus on creating water-conscious landscapes for drought areas.
By specializing in one area, you can become the best, the fastest, and grow your reputation as the one to contact for this specific task.
Alternatively, you could specialize in taking trash to the dump, particularly if you have a pickup truck. This is a relatively simple task and there is no shortage of demand.
Specializing like this offers you a number of advantages. For one thing, you are focusing on a narrow area and you can become more efficient at those tasks over time. This can easily lead to you working faster, which also opens up the opportunity for more money.
For that matter, you can even charge higher prices as you specialize. After all, you are more experienced in the area than the average handyman. People will often be willing to pay that extra cost too.
At the same time, specializing means that you can pick tasks that you like, rather than ones you absolutely hate. After all, why be your own boss just to end up doing horrible jobs?
Focusing on specific jobs is also great for marketing. In most cases, there is high demand for specialists and your reputation can increase faster than if you just offered your services as a general handyman.
Don’t Ignore Small Jobs
Many handymen ignore small jobs entirely because the amount of money is minimal. I know this first hand because when I have small projects on my house that I can't do, I usually get rejected 2-3 times by handymen because it's simply not worth their time.
But remember! In the right circumstances, small jobs can be very profitable. For example, small jobs may take an hour or two, rather than the full day. How much you earn per job will vary but upwards of $50+ isn’t unusual for an hour of specialized work.
As such, small jobs add up fast, especially if you have multiple within a small area.
You can also optimize the process. One way of doing this is to have a minimum fee. So, you might charge $50 or $75 regardless of how simple the job is and more if the work is complicated. This means that even the 5-minute jobs are actually worth the time and energy to get there.
Another approach is limiting your service area. For example, if you just take jobs within a few miles, then having to drive from one to the other isn’t a huge effort. In contrast, if your service area is large, you could easily spend most the day driving, which isn’t especially profitable.
There will often be considerable demand for small jobs too. After all, it’s cheaper to pay a handyman $100 than to attempt to get a contractor out for something minor.
This area is also appealing if you get bored easily because you’re typically working on multiple different tasks in the same day. That’s more interesting and less stressful than an 8-hour task or one that takes multiple days to complete. You'll also be helping a lot of people that struggle to find someone to do small tasks like clean out a drain, change air filters, clean gutters, and tasks like this. An opportunity to help people is an opportunity to make money.
Plan Your Charging Carefully
Advice for handymen typically says that you should always charge by the job, never by the hour. Doing so gives you the ability to raise your income by simply being more efficient. As a result, the amount you can potentially earn naturally increases, without you needing to charge your customers anymore.
This is also a good technique for customer relations. Charging by the job means that your customers know exactly what to expect at the beginning and aren’t going to feel like you are wasting their time.
But, charging by the job isn’t always the best answer. In some cases, it can even limit how much you earn.
This is especially true if you are new to the field. For one thing, it’s easy to underestimate how long a job will take, particularly when you first get started. In some cases, you may find that tasks take twice as long as you expect. As a result, you can end up losing money if you charge by the job.
It’s also fairly challenging to estimate the best price for a job when you’re new or when the job is unusual. Charging by the hour gets around this. It also means that you don’t have to come out and give a quote beforehand, a process that can take a considerable amount of time on your end.
Instead, you can advertise a base hourly rate or even an hourly rate that is based on the types of work. This lets customers know precisely what to expect before they even call you, which isn’t the case if you charged by the job.
These two methods of billing work best for different situations and jobs. The most important thing is to take the time to figure out which one is going to work best for you. Otherwise, you may find yourself using a method that limits how much you can earn.
At the same time, you need to figure out what prices are reasonable and match the industry. To do this, you may want to research what other handymen charge and also consider how much the work costs you.
Be Careful With Friends And Family
Friends and family present a tricky situation for handymen and many similar jobs. You’ll often find that people in these groups are insulted if you charge them for work but working for free isn’t a good business practice!
A key aspect here is to be consistent. If you do work for free once, then many people will expect the same thing in the future. Likewise, other people may start to feel entitled.
One method around this is to offer a discount for friends and family. Doing so may be enough to satisfy their emotions, without leaving you majorly out of pocket. This can also be a good way to ensure you don’t get overloaded with requests from them.
I’ve also seen handymen trade work. For example, you might do some work for a someone in return for their help in painting your house. This is a good way to keep things amicable, while also making sure nobody takes advantage of you.
Market And Manage Your Business Well
Being successful as a handyman isn’t really about what you can do. Many of your skills will be shared by countless others. At the same time, you’ll find some unskilled people marketing themselves as handymen. They may overestimate their skills, or simply not care about the quality of their product.
As a result, the key aspect of business success comes from managing your business well. This includes planning and also marketing.
The marketing component is extremely relevant because this is how people hear about you. You may use tools like Craigslist and local newspapers, while also relying on ads in local store. Word of mouth can also help with marketing and some handymen give out business cards to speed that process along.
Don't forget, you can also use online tools like Google Local Business Listings and similar options on Bing/Yahoo search engines. The first thing I do when I need work done is turn to the internet. The newer generation of home owners is going to be the same. If you are listed high in the search results, your phone will be ringing off the hook. Need a website? Learn how to build one here.
It’s also useful to keep track of any advertising expenses and expenses from other areas of your business. Doing so lets you figure out which aspects are most profitable and where you need to cut costs.
There are also other key aspects of managing your business. For example, you will probably need liability insurance at the very least. This can be expensive but it protects you if you make any mistakes. Having this in place is absolutely critical, as a major issue could potentially bankrupt you.
One other important aspect of business management is contracts. Ideally, you should always rely on written contracts, rather than verbal ones.
The process of writing contracts each time can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially for little jobs, but it truly is worth it. After all, things do go wrong and people misunderstand one another. Having a contract to fall back on is critical for yourself and for the person you are working for.
Update March 2017: Amazon Hire a Handman
I just caught wind of Amazon launching a handyman service. It's called Hire a Handyman. It basically hooks people up with local handymen, providing fair prices to people who need small jobs done. This helps customers get good work without worry about getting overcharged, plus they get Amazon's service quality guarantee. For you, this means that you get access to a huge pool of people looking for odd jobs to be done.
The details of application are here. If you're doing something like electrical, you'll need certification for it. You'll also need to provide your own insurance. If you don't have those things right now, that's OK. You may still be able to do other types of jobs. Check out the details of how to apply and what requirements there are. You may be able to grow your customer base fast! The advantage of working through Amazon is that many people will trust the Amazon brand, versus just some guy off of Craigslist!
Making Money Online As a Handyman
Earning extra money as a handyman is great but the potential isn’t endless. Even if this is your full-time business, you’d still be limited by demand and the amount of work that you could physically do. As such, you may end up earning less money than you would like to. There's only so much time in the day!
To get around this, you could focus on using your handyman skills to earn money online! The immediate advantage is that you can do it any hour of the day, and it's not physically demanding (your butt might get sore sitting in a chair though).
Also, it doesn’t rely as much on local demand. Rather than just market locally – you can market your website globally! As a result, it can be a good way of complementing your handyman income or even replacing it altogether.
There are various ways to make money online but the method that I do is called affiliate marketing. The basic idea is that you create a website about a topic that's interesting to you, then link to related products. So if you are good at landscaping, you can teach people how to make homemade mulch, reseed their lawn, or fix their mower. Link them to the products online like grass seed, composting buckets, and a tool set, and you make $$$ from each product sold.