Starting a Property Maintenance Business

Summary: Provide home and property maintenance services to home-owners and business owners

Outlook: Demand for reliable handymen/handywomen is likely to increase in the future as the baby boom generation ages and seeks additional services to maintain homes.

Earnings: $10 – 25 / hour

Start-Up Costs: $0 – 5,000

Equipment: Truck or van (highly useful but not required), appropriate tools depending on services you intend to offer
Detailed Review

The property maintenance business, also referred to as a handyman business or caretaking, provides property, building, and grounds maintenance services to customers. Customers may be home-owners or business owners who need assistance with small projects.

Projects may include painting, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, landscaping, junk or debris removal, or many similar type of projects. Some people choose to specialize in limited fields while others take on a variety of work.

Working as a handyman/handywoman is a good business for those who like to work with their hands, who like to fix things, and who like to work on a variety of different projects. This work tends to be varied and can also be somewhat seasonal depending on where you live.

The variety in this business can also be a challenge as it can be difficult to know which tools you will need to bring with you each day. This business will also challenge you to learn new skills frequently.

I first started with this business while I was trying to launch a house painting business several years ago. My painting customers frequently asked if I could provide additional services. I was only too happy to oblige and before long approximately half of my work came from handyman projects.

There are several lessons that I learned while working in this business.

  1. Many homeowners or property owners do not have the time, interest, skills, or tools to handle many of the routine tasks that accompany owning property
  2. Many people (most people in my experience) would prefer to give additional projects to someone they already know and trust than to find a new contractor they do not have an established relationship wit
  3. This business easily generates repeat business from existing customers since property owners always have another project that needs to be done

Marketing

Marketing your property maintenance business is one of the biggest challenges when first starting any business and the property maintenance business is no exception. Fortunately, this business often produces repeat customers with little effort other than doing a good job and being friendly. Creativity and a willingness to try new approaches are often the most important ingredients in marketing a new business on a limited budget.

Some techniques that I have used include:

  • running a services ad in the local community newspaper (this will likely be more affordable and more effective in a rural, community newspaper than in an urban, daily newspaper)
  • posting business cards or fliers on community bulletin boards (often found in smaller grocery stores, laundromats, etc.)
  • direct mailings to targeted groups of people (for instance, new homeowners lists can be purchased for a small fee)
  • asking friends and family for their business or referrals
  • carry business cards and hand them out to anyone whenever the subject of your work comes up in a conversation
  • word of mouth referrals are the best advertising any business can have and satisfied customers will refer your business to their friends and family

Which approaches works best for you will depend on your market. Carefully consider and identify your target customers and then think about how you can get your business in front of them for consideration.

Remember that people are looking for solutions to problems or needs that they are experiencing. Prospects will become customers if you can demonstrate that your business is the solution to their problem. New customers will become long-term customers if your business provides them with good value while providing solutions.

Cautions

You may want to consider purchasing business insurance for this business, particularly if you are doing any electrical or plumbing work. Certain projects just have the potential to make a mess and a business insurance policy could help protect you from liability if someone’s home was damaged because of an accident. For instance, a leak in a second floor bathroom after you worked on the plumbing could damage the bathroom cabinets and floor, the first floor ceiling, walls and floors, and furniture or decorations. Further, many businesses will require you to carry a certain amount of liability insurance before they will accept bids for work on their property.

Conclusion

The handyperson or property maintenance business is an easy business to launch on a budget. Marketing your business can be done “guerrilla-style” with low-cost targeted advertising. Many people who would consider this business interesting already have the necessary tools on hand.

Entrepreneurs who like working with their hands, are not afraid of sweat and dirt, and who are willing to work with customers to find creative solutions to property maintenance needs should have no problem maintaining a steady stream of work.