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I am a computer guy thinking of a reliable business to start on my own. My hobby has been remodeling my own house and have done some major works, such a complete kitchen remodeling (building cabinets, flooring, countertop, backsplash tiles, etc), bathroom (build a shower pan, tile walls, floor, add sink, etc.). And several other large projects. But since I have never really worked in the industry, I am not sure where to start. I also don't know what the success/failure rate is for this kind of startups ro how much I can expect to make.

Any input is appreciated

The New Guy
 

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You seem pretty handy. Start out as a handy man. I know a handyman that pockets 100k a year. He is a one man outfit and does almost all the work himself. From there you can grow into a full service remodeler.

To be a handy man all you need is basic knowledge and basic tools. Buy an old pickup, station wagon or van. Make sure to get some kind of insurance fo ryour business. General Liability for sure. If you use employees buy workemans comp.

Use your computer skill to streamline your business. This is what I have been doing.

Your success will depend on you... and I dare to say your marketing knowledge. I would be more than happy to assist you in marketing your services, as long as you aren't in my area :)

Good luck!
 
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Thanks Grumpy, that's surley a good start and not to worry, I am far from you (Maryland).
I was also thinking of talking to some general contractors and maybe do some sub-contracting. To do that, I'll have to concentrate on one area, I believe, such as tiling. Is that something people do, or is too early?

Thanks
NewGuy
 

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Why concentrate on one type if you are capable of more? You have to truly know what your doing though. I find many of the GC's justify hiring us at slightly higher prices because we not only do their roofs, but we do their siding and gutters. 1 call gets their entire exterior done.

If you want to find all the GC's in your area go to www.thebluebook.com

The problem with GC's is most pay 30-60 days after you invoice. Most of mine are great guys, or I don't work for them more than a few times.

Handy men can do VERY well working for property management companies. Maybe consider buying a list of local property management companies and start to do some advertising to them. They give you repeat business. If you land just one contract they may be able to keep you busy 50 hours a week depending on how large they are.
 

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You're in the same boat as me

NewGuy said:
I am a computer guy thinking of a reliable business to start on my own. My hobby has been remodeling my own house and have done some major works, such a complete kitchen remodeling (building cabinets, flooring, countertop, backsplash tiles, etc), bathroom (build a shower pan, tile walls, floor, add sink, etc.). And several other large projects. But since I have never really worked in the industry, I am not sure where to start. I also don't know what the success/failure rate is for this kind of startups ro how much I can expect to make.

Any input is appreciated

The New Guy
Hello New Guy! Your in the same boat I'm in. I've been in the computer industry for the past 12 years. I was recently laid off and got a decent package from Novell, a Billion dollar software company. I've been wanting to get into construction, been working with it on the side all my life. This was the perfect opportunity to get started.

I studied very hard very fast and passed the Contractor license exams the first time. I'm doing some remodeling and handyman type of work and have some great ideas I'd be interested in speaking with you about. There's good money in this industry if you're honest, dependable and are willing to do the right thing for the customer, especially show up when you say you will!

Let's chat sometime if you're interested.

Ken
 

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I think I have to respectfully disagree with Grumpy on this one. I have always thought that a handyman was a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. I would suggest picking a specific trade, be it the one you like to do most, the one that appears most profitable, or one with the most sought-after demand in your area.

Pick a specific trade, become a master at it, become known to be a master at it, and proceed that way.

As a paperhanger, I can demand much more money than say a carpenter who says he knows how to hang paper. I have become the go-to-guy for alot of GC's and decorators around St. Louis for high-end paper or just plain difficult jobs that most won't tackle because >> I specialize in paper.

Just MHO, what would I know, I'm just a paperhanger :cheesygri
 
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Fellows,

lots of good feedback here, thanks to all of you and to our host for making it happen. I am kind of taking everyone's input and have decided to proceed, and this is the initial plan:

I have a few people in mind and Hopefully one will work out. Assuming that, I will register a simple trade name, hire the guy for an agreed hourly rate, get liability and workers comp. insurance, some tools and a van (thanks to Grumpy's input). While in the process, I will start looking for customers, starting with people I know, flyers, ads, whatever it takes, and try to line up a few handyman jobs. I will manage the work part time, until such time that I feel comfortable with it so I can leave my job.

From there, we can hopefully grow and maybe specialize in one or more areas. Otherwise cut the losses and sell the equipment. And, Ken is absolutely right about delivering value/trust to the customers in all areas, starting from being on-time for heaven sake!

My questions are on the administrative stuff, like what kind of forms, licenses, insurance, etc do I need and want to know what is the hourly rate to charge and to pay the employee (in a big city settings).

Thanks a lot
NewGuy
 

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Fellows,

lots of good feedback here, thanks to all of you and to our host for making it happen. I am kind of taking everyone's input and have decided to proceed, and this is the initial plan:

I have a few people in mind and Hopefully one will work out. Assuming that, I will register a simple trade name, hire the guy for an agreed hourly rate, get liability and workers comp. insurance, some tools and a van (thanks to Grumpy's input). While in the process, I will start looking for customers, starting with people I know, flyers, ads, whatever it takes, and try to line up a few handyman jobs. I will manage the work part time, until such time that I feel comfortable with it so I can leave my job.

From there, we can hopefully grow and maybe specialize in one or more areas. Otherwise cut the losses and sell the equipment. And, Ken is absolutely right about delivering value/trust to the customers in all areas, starting from being on-time for heaven sake!

My questions are on the administrative stuff, like what kind of forms, licenses, insurance, etc do I need and want to know what is the hourly rate to charge and to pay the employee (in a big city settings).

Thanks a lot
NewGuy
Hi NewGuy,

As a former computer-industry inmate (20+ years in S/W development, project and product management, customer support, etc.), I am pretty happy I made the transition to the building trades (roofing in my case). However, if you want to be successful, you have to organize a business plan for yourself. In that business plan, you will need to cover the following basics:
  1. Who are your customers (prospects)? Why are they attractive to you? (Market analysis)
  2. What products/services are you planning to offer? At what price-points? (Products/Services?Pricing)
  3. Who is your competition, and how will you distinguish yourself from them to your prospects? (Marketing/Competition)
  4. How are you going to let your prospects know who you are and what you offer? (Marketing)
  5. How will you handle the sales? Who will do the sales? What's the sales process? What kind of promises (warranties) are you going to make?
  6. Once you've got the sale, how will you deliver? What resources are you going to rely on?
  7. How are you going to ensure that the customer is happy with the services (Quality control/Customer satisfaction)?
  8. What kind of administrative support will you need to keep track of the projects, billing and spending? (administrative overhead)
  9. What kind of regulatory requirements do you have to satisfy (licenses, insurance, workman's compensation, sales taxes, income taxes) to have a "legitimate" business? (regulatory overhead)
  10. Financially, what is your projected gross profit (revenues less materials and direct costs), and your net profit (gross profit less marketing expenses and overhead)? What does your cash-flow look like? Do you have the money to fund the startup costs or do you have to borrow?
  11. What are your risks? How are you ensuring that your customers pay you on time? If you are relying on partners or other workers, what do you have in place to ensure they deliver their contribution?
Typically, if you want to approach a bank or other lending institution, they all require a good business plan and a minimum of a three-year projection of the financial statements. Even if you don't plan to borrow money, the rigor of logic necessary to put together a business plan requires you to answer a great many questions ahead of time. If you can supply good answers to these, then the business has a good chance of success. If not, then some more research is appropriate, otherwise you're indulging in wishful thinking.

When I started my roofing business, I spend almost four months (12-hour days) putting together the plan, and used it to obtain the startup-capital needed. Despite all the preparation, about half of my assumptions turned out to be incorrect, but we adjusted the plans accordingly as we learned or new information became available. There were some risks that we grossly underestimated, and had we not been working with a good framework, could easily have killed the company. Despite all the startup difficulties, we've been able to keep the shareowners and lenders on board, and a good business plan (frequently updated) is an excellent communication tool to allow everyone to see what's going on.

Good luck, and let us know how you're doing.
 
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