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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys/Girls,
I need some advice about starting a contractor/handyman business. I want it to be kind of all encompassing. Maybe not building a house but everything to do with it, from racking leaves to fixing sinks to maybe building decks and sheds. I want to start small and then grow into something larger. I need to know what your opinions on what I should do is and what stuff should I purchase from the ground up. I already have stuff but it will take to long to list so anything you can think of will be a help.


Adam
 

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Kowboy
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apzimmermann:

You'll find a direct correlation between how easy a business is to enter (handyman) and strong competition. The stronger the competition, the lower the rates you can charge. I'd try to find something unique, because there are a ton of very experienced and personable retirees collecting pension checks and social security who want to keep busy and you're bangin' heads with them.
 

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"All-encompassing" is tough. As Kowboy points out, that means you're competing against everyone, and price is your main competitive tool in that situation. If you need to start out that way, O.K., but try to figure out as quickly as possible what it is that you can specialize in, that will allow you to build special expertise and charge more.

Start doing real accounting from the get-go. Do your taxes from the get-go; if you don't, you will find it very difficult to step from under-the-table to legit.
 

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A lot of those all encopassing jobs you speak of require a license to do, such as electrical. Do I want a gardener fixing my sink, probably not, do I want a plumber working on my garden, probably not, could either install a sink, probably.

I say pick a couple of things you want to do and start there.

Don't forget you need insurance, insurance for a gardener may be a very different price then that of an electrician.
 

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This space for lease
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He doesn't state where he is but here, you can get a handyman license, which covers a lot of areas, no electrical or plumbing though. It limits you to no subs, employees or jobs over $2,000.
 

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Crete Master
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I think maybe try to focus on what you are best at. I worked for a GC for a lot of years doing a little of everything. Sometimes we had plenty of work; sometimes not. Eventually me and a friend went our own way into custom concrete and we stay pretty busy. We get people who have hunted us down far far from home because we do one type of thing really well. To me 'all encompassing' sounds a little bit like not really an expert in anything. Your costs might be higher too because if you are doing plumbing, you need all the same stuff as the plumber, but you also need all the same stuff as the carpenter and drywaller and landscaper, etc. So like was said earlier, buy your stuff as needed.
 

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in my area handymen are typically drunks/drug addicts/losers....people who couldnt hold a normal job in the trades.....i DO know of a higher end handyman service..they charge $110 an hour...they struggle to find customers......my brother was even a handyman (he has 6+ drunk drivings)....id show up on his jobs to help him w/ plumbing and he could barely stand up he was so drunk......other than the high end handyman i know ive never met a handyman that was a quality guy......hopefully you are!....hopefully your area is different than mine

no handyman license here in WI......only plumbers can tough plumbing.....if you advertise plumbing w/o a masters license # after it you are violating the law....i turned in a heating guy who was putting in tankless water heaters a while back.....unless he hires a plumber to hook up the waters he's violating the law......so learn about your area when it comes to plumbing
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey thanks everyone! I am in NY and i'm not really sure if I will need a license or not. Yes I do think that the "all encompassing" thing is maybe me thinking to big. I guess I just want to do the things that people don't have the time to do, maybe like a rent a husband thing. Around my neighborhood word has spread about me doing these "odd" jobs for people like hanging pictures and cleaning gutters so word of mouth has sorta worked. I'm also not trying to put other out of business I kind of figured a low hourly rate maybe 20-30 an hour with tool pricing and materials added in, what do you think??
 

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Livin the dream...
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I'm also not trying to put other out of business I kind of figured a low hourly rate maybe 20-30 an hour with tool pricing and materials added in, what do you think??
At 25/hr by the time you figure fica and self employment tax which will knock of about another 30% you might as well go to work for someone else. And that's not even looking at your overhead. Charging low figures like that you won't have to worry about putting anyone else out of business, the person you will be putting out of business is you.

I'll give you the same advice someone gave me. Don't start out a business with the low hourly rate philosophy. It is not sustainable and once you start with the type of clientele that you will be targeting with those rates, it will take years to get away from them and your business probably won't survive that long. Many have learned the hard way. Develop a business model that allows you to actually make a profit and run with it.
 

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Find a specialty that you like doing and go with it. Don't try and be a jack of all trades. You'll have a 100k in tools and still make ****.
The best way I can think of if you want to offer it all is to find people that you call when needed for things. Be a coordinator of things.
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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There's nothing wrong with wanting to be all things to all people because it allows you to cast a bigger net. Unfortunately I can tell you from first hand experience, that does not work.

It's almost like buying one of those handy-dandy screwdrivers that can do 12 different things to 30 kinds of screws. At the end of the day, you realize that a specific screw driver designed for a specific task works much better.
 

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Head Light Bulb Changer
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I think the main thing you need is experience. Unless you've been in the trades for 30 years or so, you can't be 'All Encompassing'. Try to keep your focus on specific areas for now. Like interior or exterior only, whatever your strong suit is. Network with other contractors. If there's a job you don't know how to do, give it to them as a sub, with you being the prime. That keeps your name in the loop, so to speak. As you grow, you can expand into different areas. There's nothing wrong with being a handyman. That's basically what I do now, but I present myself as 'Home Repair'. A small difference in a phrase can make a big difference in peoples perception of things and the invoice amount. I don't know how old you are or how much experience you have, but you need to aim for higher-end clients. If you start out low-balling, you WILL get stuck in that merry-go-round of barely making it. If they can't afford you, don't sweat it and move along. Believe it or not, but clients with money to burn tend to look down on the low bidder (In my world anyway) especially if their truck is dirty and they're wearing an old T-Shirt and jeans. Look and act professional. Be on time. Have iron-clad contracts (get an attorney - money WELL spent). Stay on top of your taxes. Etc, etc.
 

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That pricing post would work well here. I don't know the link.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But, I think it would be difficult to be a one man show and do everything
 

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there is a need for true handymen......those who can assemble cheap furniture, re-place screens, fix a sagging gate, lubricate or change a sticky lock, fix a leaky faucet, build a simple closet organizer, fix a broken tile, shave a door so it closes when its humid. and so on.

Here is the problem if a guy can do that they often think they can do way more and get in over their head just to make a living. Most of us have seen it or had to go in afterwards and fix it. Many nightmares ......my most recent was from a fellow who spliced 2 dryer cords together using duct tape. A $15 longer cord would have saved $350 for the HO by the time I re-wired the circuit that melted and replace the fingers in the box.


If you want to be a handyman stick to the service things you know and please do NOT try and contract, if you do that you won't need much more then basic handtools, screwgun, a tad of ins, and you will be happy.

Thats my 2 cents
 
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