This is the first handyman interview so I figured I’d do the honors and interview myself to kick things off. I hope to receive interviews from other handymen across the USA and even around the world. I can see it being a great inspiration to others just getting into the business. So, if you’re running a handyman business and you’d like to be interviewed, start here.
Tell us a little background info about yourself and your handyman business. What is the name of it? What city and state do you service? How long have you been in business? How did you start?
My name is Travis Farnes and I run TCF Home Solutions in Corona, CA. I started this handyman business part time in 2004. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 20 running various businesses and have never looked back since. I’ve learned a lot throughout my self employed career and I enjoy it very much.
Do you have employees (if so, how many) or do you operate the business entirely on your own?
I operate my handyman business on my own. I’ve had helpers and employees in the past when I was doing larger jobs but later realized I enjoyed sticking to smaller jobs much more. I’ve learned there’s plenty of money in the small jobs!
What was the toughest part about starting your handyman business and how did you overcome it?
The toughest part for me when starting was organization. When you’re doing this on your own you need to learn to be very organized. It took me quite some time to get this down but it’s something that has to be done or you’ll drive yourself crazy. I no longer let my desk pile up with mail and other paperwork and I keep my work van clean and organized. This has helped tremendously.
How did you get your first few jobs? How long did it take you to realize that you had a business worth pursuing?
I got my first few jobs through word of mouth. I made it known that I was doing handyman work and I made sure that every time I completed a job I would ask the customer to please refer me to their friends and family. I also started posting ads on Craigslist (which can bring in new jobs right away), created a Google Places listing and a website and that brought in more work very soon after.
How long did it take you before you started earning a decent living from your handyman business?
The first few months were tough. I made a ton of mistakes while I was learning and made sure that I learned from every one of them. There were also a few rough patches here and there throughout the first year but soon after I started to see some real money come in. It was extremely exciting to have days where I made more money than ever before.
What are your best sources of customers? Where do you advertise? What are your top marketing methods?
I get most of my business from my website. People either find my website directly or see my Google Places listing first and click to my website after. Word of mouth always works great too. I started off posting on Craigslist which does bring in new work but I no longer need to now that I get enough business from the other sources. I don’t do any conventional paid advertising.
Have you made any mistakes? What were they? If you could go back in time, what would you do different?
I’ve made more mistakes than I’d like to admit. You name it, I made it. One of my big mistakes was my lack of organization. If I could go back, I would get much more organized right off the bat.
What do you think it takes to be successful as a handyman?
You definitely need to be a problem solver. Every job you come across is a problem that needs to be solved. Sometimes you’ll come across something you’ve never dealt with before so you need to do a little research and figure it out. You also have to be motivated, driven, and have an overall willingness to succeed and overcome obstacles.
What are your greatest strengths? How have they helped you in your business?
I think I have a very good idea of how to treat customers and give them what they want. I feel like I understand them very well and that has enabled me to solve their problems and charge a premium for doing so. I’m also very driven. When I set my mind on something I really focus on achieving it. I never give up. That has helped me in this business.
What motivates you?
Success, money, free time, etc. I love achieving what I set out to do. Also, freedom. I just want the freedom to make my own choices and direct my life in the way I see fit.
What kinds of people do you have difficulty dealing with? Any good stories?
I feel that I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had too many problem customers. Things have gone pretty smoothly and people have been very understanding when either a job takes longer than expected or problems arise along the way. I think I do a very good job of screening customers over the phone so I don’t run into too many problems. I do have a couple nightmare job stories but I definitely don’t want to re-live them now to tell them
How do you like to spend your free time? How do you balance your business and personal life?
I wouldn’t say I have a ton of free time because I do like to work on new projects outside of my handyman business. For example, I love to help other handymen start and run their businesses and that does take quite a bit of time. I’ve learned a lot over the years and my experiences have already helped many handymen. When I’m not doing that I enjoy traveling, spending time with friends and family, and self improvement. I also enjoying starting and running other businesses as well.
Do you have a website for your business that you would like to share?
My website is http://tcfhomesolutions.com
A lot of new handymen seem to have problems pricing jobs. Is there any advice you can offer them?
You should price according to your skill level and only price jobs using the flat rate approach. Also, use theof course
What are the most common mistakes you see other handymen make?
I see far too many handymen have horrible looking websites, look very unprofessional, and aren’t very reliable people. There’s a simple fact that I’ve learned. If your business looks professional you can charge more money. Look professional, act professional, and be professional.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in the business?
Start out by reading everything that I’ve written on the subject at http://handymanedge.com. Get a Google Places listing and a website right away and don’t be afraid to spend money on the website. It will make you so much more money than you will spend on it if you do it right. Also, hit the ground running in the beginning and you can ease off the gas after things settle and you build some momentum.