A handyman, or handywoman, is someone can perform a variety of jobs that a homeowner doesn’t want to do or can’t do by herself. A handywoman is a Jill of all trades, with the ability to do things like tackle small carpentry jobs, hang ceiling fans and window treatments, fix a leaky faucet and switch out screens. Since every job is different, you have to come up with a fair way to price jobs so that you make some profit while keeping homeowners satisfied so they call you back.
By the Hour
Especially when you’re new and not sure how long it will take to complete various tasks, it’s best to charge by the hour. After all, it’s your time and talent that you have to sell and you can decide ahead of time how much you are willing to work for. Then you can tackle a number of tasks and don’t have to worry about the common “while you’re here” add-ons homeowners often come up with when you’re on site. Check out how much area handymen charge and try to price your services in the same neighborhood so you won’t price yourself out of the competition and won’t come off as being too cheap either.
When you have some experience, you can better gauge how long it will take you to perform a job. Pricing by the job is especially useful for large jobs that could take longer than a few hours or even a day, such as sanding and staining a deck or reinforcing a lopsided gazebo. For larger jobs, homeowners then can turn over the work and not worry about whether you’re working the entire time you’re there. When you charge by the job, you can leave to work on smaller projects elsewhere and return to finish another time, hire helpers and work at your own pace.
You can tackle the price of supplies in a couple different ways. Give the homeowner a list of supplies you need and let her purchase them or offer to buy the materials and add the cost on to her bill. When you let the customer buy the supplies, she is then responsible for the quality of the materials, the color and the size, keeping you out of those decisions. You take more risks that you might not get the right colors or preferred materials when you make the purchasels, but you’ll have more control over the quality. Another option is to shop together so you’ll both have input into the purchases and you can assure the client that you’ll shop for the most cost-effective materials that still provide the highest quality.
Protect yourself and make sure you’re both on the same page by writing up your projected costs and fees in a contract or written estimate. Even if you charge by the hour, put it in writing Include whatever agreement you have made with regard to buying supplies, and break out the costs for labor and materials if you're working from a set project price. Add a line about how you will charge for any additional work you're asked to do. Lastly, assure your customer you will keep her informed of your progress and tell her if you foresee any big changes in the estimate or if you discover a need to bring in more experienced repair professionals, such as electricians or plumbers. While the contract spells out your agreement, you want to develop a trusting relationship with clients to grow your business and get great referrals.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."