My web search yielded no local handyman rates so I continued my search the old fashioned way…I started asking around. I know some real estate agents in the area and I asked them if they knew any handymen, and how much they charged.
From their referrals, I talked to a handyman who had a good reputation with these agents. He told me that he quoted $25 per hour. I thought it was too low for our area. He also told me that he would send some of his business my way because he was too busy to handle it all. Now I knew he was definitely undercharging!
The laws of supply and demand should have driven his rates up, yet he claimed that he had been charging the same rate for the last 15 years. He hadn’t raised his rates because he didn’t want to upset his long time customers.
This example showed me how important it is to choose your rates carefully. It will be more difficult to raise your rates later, particularly when you are getting a lot of referrals from current customers.
You don’t have to price yourself cheaply when there is plenty of business available. Another handyman I talked to had all the business he could handle and charged $50 per hour. He presents himself well and receives lots of referrals.
To take this project a step further I researched a handyman franchise in our area. I found that they are charging $115 per hour and have a 2 hour minimum! Are they too busy also? I don’t think so. In fact, they had a booth at the last Home Show I attended. There they were, hawking their services and showing off their beautiful marketing materials. Clearly, their challenge is finding enough customers who are willing to pay extra for a professional licensed handyman. Perception is everything and the handyman franchises are doing a great job of cashing in on their professional image.
With this sampling of rates I had a starting point. Not having high overhead, I knew I didn’t need to charge as much as the handyman franchises. Since I’ve never been a big fan of working long hours and earning less than I’m worth, I decided that I didn’t want to start too low either! If I could maintain a professional image and do good work, why not try for a higher rate? If I charge less then the major franchises I’ll still be seen as an inexpensive alternative.
I decided to start out charging $60 for the first hour and $45 per hour thereafter. I correctly guessed that my customers would be willing to pay my rate. I also knew that I could offer a discount to my rate as a ‘special’ or even knock off some time when totaling up the invoice if I felt I should.
Do the same research in your area and don’t hesitate to push the envelope. What ever your local rates are, there will always be a low rate set by the wannabes, a middle rate set by the professionals and a high rate set by the franchises. Position yourself as a professional by setting your rates at or above the middle and below the top. You don’t need to be the cheapest handyman in town to get all the business you need!