What is it?
The handyman is a fairly new concept industry-wise. Years ago, property maintenance companies confined themselves to specific services, such as plumbing, electrical, and painting. However, recently there has been an eruption of handyman businesses, carving themselves out as distinct service providers. With the ever-depressing job market, people are seeking news ways to make a living, and an increasing number of people are following their passion and setting up their own companies.
Perhaps the success of the handyman business is due to the increasingly busy and hectic lives that people lead. Finding enough time to juggle work with family and other commitments can be troublesome, and consequently more and more people are looking for help with odd-jobs around their home, whether it’s changing light fittings, putting up shelves or repairing dripping taps.
Who is it suited to?
In essence, anyone can set up a handyman business. City-workers who have grown weary of their office jobs are among those who have taken the plunge, as well as individuals with a background in property maintenance. This is also not an industry reserved for men, since there are numerous handywomen on the scene. Kerrie Hanafin started A Woman’s Touch in 2003, a company that boasts a team of highly qualified tradeswomen. She explains: “Being a woman can be a fabulous advantage, I think people find it easy to trust you and feel happy leaving you in their home, or with their young children”. Kerrie spotted a niche in the market, and with a current turnover of £3.5m, her handywoman business is flourishing.
An interest and basic knowledge of the different trades are important factors when thinking of starting your business. While there are no specific qualifications required, it is helpful if you are familiar with all aspects of the trade, from painting and plastering to plumbing and carpentry. Central to the handyman concept is that no job is too small, and so a willingness to offer all services is beneficial. Customers will not come back if you refuse the small jobs like changing their light bulb, therefore if you are prepared to do any job, however big or small, you will stand yourself in good stead to be called upon again. Will Davies set up Aspect Maintenance in 2005, a thriving business that today enjoys a turnover of £10.5m and employs 110 fully-qualified maintenance workers. He believes that the key to success is to offer as wide a range of services as possible. “Many handyman businesses can only deal with problems up until a certain level, often they are not suitably registered for the more complex jobs and so while they may be fine for basic problems, they might not be able to resolve the more difficult ones.” This, he explains, can be a hindrance to the growth of your business, because people won’t use you again.
Perhaps most crucial is your attitude and behaviour towards customers; being friendly and approachable is fundamental to build and maintain trust between you and your clients. People want to be able to rely on you, and so honesty and dependability are invaluable qualities when dealing with customers. Chris Gilbey established his own handyman company Bitsbobsandoddjobs in 2006, and affirms the importance of building solid relationships with clients. He says: “The most important thing is customer relations and being responsive to clients. I think we are unique in the way we deal with people, and most of our business comes through word-of-mouth, so it is essential to gain peoples’ trust.”