Positioning Yourself in the Market
When you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one. When it comes to positioning yourself in the market, you need to know who your ideal customer is, and consider specializing.
- Outline your target market and ideal customer
- Decide if you want to specialize
- Update your brand messaging and service offerings accordingly
Who Do You Want to Work With?
When businesses “cast a big net” advertising to the general population, they waste money and time. On an episode of the Thrive Time Business Coach Radio Show, hosts Clay Clark and Dr. Robert Zoellner advise handyman business owners to ask questions about who your ideal and likely buyers are, starting with things like their gender and income bracket, as well as where they live, and what key words they might be using to find businesses like yours.
They explain that you should define your buyers before you start heavily promoting your business. “The reason why you want to answer these questions first is because this is going to affect everything that you do from here. It’s going to affect the way that you brand; it’s going to affect your purple cow; it’s going to affect the way that you market.”
Your purple cow is the thing that differentiates you from other businesses, such as a unique tagline and logo or vehicle or value proposition. Your “purple cow” needs to be attractive to you ideal buyer.
Why Do They Want to Work With You?
It’s also important to understand why customers are looking for handyman services as opposed to working with a specialist, such as an electrician or plumber.
Lui has observed that when people search for his company, they more often search for “handyman” as opposed to a specific service.
“Most of the time, there’s a punch list of things they want done all at one time,” he explained.
His customers choose his handyman business specifically because he’s a generalist and can complete their entire checklist as opposed to things within a particular specialty.
This is helpful for Lui when he is choosing what keywords to advertise for. Things like “handyman Brooklyn” is going to be more successful than “light fixture installation,” which is one of the services they offer.
Setting Your Pricing and Services
It may take a while to find the best set of services and prices that works for you. What follows are some tips to get started.
- Create a list of services you’re able or interested in offering
- Create a price list for all of your services
- Create a contract template
- Write up a terms and conditions document
You Don’t Need to Do Everything
Like we explained earlier, customers tend to search for handymen when they’re not looking for a specialist. However, as Dan Perry explained, “You can generate a very healthy income by offering a limited range of services and, in many cases, it’s actually much more profitable to just offer one or two services.”
How does this work?
Even handymen start to become known for certain types of jobs and can begin to specialize in them. For instance, although they offer other kinds of services, as well, JW Handyman has become known for bathroom remodels.
It happened rather by chance. One customer started out with smaller projects and was satisfied with the work and trusted Jeremy’s business. So when it was time to remodel her bathroom, she asked Jeremy to lead the project.
Similarly, Jeremy’s business applied to be a Home Depot authorized service provider. They started out with smaller jobs, such as hanging new lighting fixtures. “That got our foot in the door on the bigger stuff.” Once again, because they had proven reliable and efficient with smaller work, when a customer wanted their bathroom remodeled, their liaison at Home Depot felt confident asking Jeremy.
Other customers kept asking. Soon, it made sense to focus on bathroom (and now full house) remodels, because they have pictures and customer testimonials, as well as experience knowing how to best price and efficiently handle these kinds of jobs. Now their marketing and promotions focus on remodeling projects.
Flat Rate or Hourly? Consider a Hybrid Model
Studies have shown that most customers prefer flat rate pricing because they know the total cost up front. But for handymen and custom service work, the types of jobs you do can vary so widely, it can be hard to solely set flat rates. We’ve seen more of our pros use a hybrid model: charging a flat rate for common jobs and hourly for everything else.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Free Estimates
“Free estimates are just costing you money,” said Donald, host of BlueCollar DIY and longtime handyman.
He charges based on how long it will take him to drive to the home to give an estimate. If they book his services, he’ll knock the estimate off of the total price of the job.
Not getting many of the jobs? According to Donald, that’s a good thing. “If you’re getting fifty percent or more of the jobs you estimate, you’re too damn cheap or you’re not giving many estimates.”
Additional Resources From Our Blog
How to sell recurring service agreements
Marketing and Sales
You know who you want to target and what you’re selling, but how do you reach them? To continue reaching new customers, you’ll need to continue trying new things. But marketing doesn’t need to be a huge money sink. There are affordable ways to attract new customers.
- Create a marketing plan
- Design business cards, van wrap , and other marketing materials
- Sign up for Google My Business
- Claim your business on other lead generation platforms
- Optimize your website for search engines (SEO)
- Join digital and in-person networking groups
Hiring: Your Path to Growth
It can be very difficult to find folks who are able to take on a wide array of tasks. This, combined with other requirements, such as timeliness, friendliness, and dependability make hiring for a handyman business very difficult. But it’s possible to find solid employees you can trust with your customers.
- Assess the numbers (what can you afford?)
- Research the legal requirements (federal, state, and local) of hiring someone
- Outline the hiring and onboarding processes
- Set up functions to handle salary and benefits
- Create job listing ad
Change Your Mindset
In his podcast, The Seven Deadly Sins of Building a Contractor Business, Karan Dhillon, founder of The Contractor’s Coach, explains:
Too many contractors believe that hiring is a crapshoot. The way they hire is they land a couple of jobs, and then they go around looking for people and hire the first guy who doesn’t smell of alcohol. Or even worse, they hire friends and family. They’re frustrated when they go through mediocre employee after mediocre employee and struggle to find people who can get the job done right. Because hiring isn’t a game of chance or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation. It is one of the most critical aspects of running a successful business.
The difference is having a strategy that includes knowing what kind of employee you want to attract, where to find them, and how to train them.
It’s generally easier to find and train individuals who don’t have every skillset you need, but are reliable workers than it is to find highly skilled employees that will fit your business well and at the pay rate you can afford.
Instead, the goal should be to attract individuals that want to learn and grow with your business. Here’s Karan again:
People want to be good at what they do and want to be acknowledged for it. If you can help people feel appreciated and, more importantly, provide a system of training, advancement and recognition within the company, and then help them see that their business is growing and thriving, you can keep top quality employees around for a long long time.
Learn more about Karan’s hiring advice in the rest of the episode.
Additional Resources From Our Blog
- Employee retention and hiring tips from our pros
- 20 of the best time clock apps for small businesses
- Hiring mistakes field service businesses make
- 12 employee GPS-tracking apps to keep tabs on your team
- 20 best time clocking apps for small businesses
Where to Go From Here Anchor Tag
Where to Go From Here
It can take a few years to establish your company and gain a consistent customer base. Just keep at it, and you can create a successful business that returns six figures.
But you don’t need to do this alone.
Check out our local meetups and full day Mastermind events to network and learn from other service businesses.
And check out these Facebook Groups:
For general business resources, we recommend:
- The US Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization
- National Small Business Association (NSBA)
- National Association for the Self-Employed
And check out a longer list of https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/05/small-business-associations.html.
Finally, don’t forget to download the ‘How to Start a Handyman Business Checklist’ — a summary of all of the steps we went over in this guide.