Interview with Michael Norris of Orlando’s Handyman Service

Michael Norris is Orlando's Handyman

Tell us a little background info about yourself and your handyman business.

I started my first handyman business in 1979 at the age of 17 in Atlanta Ga. Knowing absolutely nothing about being a handyman, marketing, or anything else about running a business. At the time I was working at Red Lobster as a dishwasher for $2.90. This was not what I wanted or needed to move out on my own. I needed independence, and a means to create that for myself.
Being good with my hands, I proceeded to make up 500 flyers to get me started as a handyman. Low and behold my first call came in from a lady wanting a wooden screen door installed. I went by and measured it, told the lady I would call her later that day with a price. I quickly ran down to the Home Depot got the price and the on how to to install it. Being excited I ran back by the the lady’s house to give her the quote. She was fine with price, so I installed that door the next day. Wow, I had just made $25 for a 1 hours work. I was hooked

Fast forward 37 years to present day and I now live in Orlando, Fl and am owner/operator of Orlando’s Handyman Service .

Do you have employees (if so, how many) or do you operate the business entirely on your own?

I operate this business for the most part own my own. Every once and a while I might use another handyman to work with me on lager projects. I always felt the need to build relationships with other handymen. Sharing idea’s, and even sharing larger jobs.

What was the toughest part about starting your handyman business and how did you overcome it?

The toughest part of starting the handyman business, was definitely the unknown. Not having a mentor, or even a business plan.

How did you get your first few jobs? How long did it take you to realize that you had a business worth pursuing?

In my introduction, I explained that printed flyers were my first means.of getting my name out there. As time rolled by I expanded that to many advertising channels. Word of mouth, and my referrals have emerged as the the best means. I was sold head over heals on my first job. The excitement of earning a weeks wages in one day carried me through that tough first year.

How long did it take you before you started earning a decent living from your handyman business?

Within the first year, so much work was rolling in that I started using a friend of mine to help me with the work.

What are your best sources of customers? Where do you advertise? What are your top marketing methods?

Referrals are always my best source of business. However, when I moved to Orlando in 2008. Having no customer base what so ever, I turned to selling handyman coupons on Living Social to help kick start my business. I really was not prepared for this. Selling 138 $75 and $150 coupons in 3 days.
To maintain a steady consistency of jobs, I also have 2 main handyman websites along with a DIY handyman’s advice blog. Of course, I do the Social media channels too.

Have you made any mistakes? What were they? If you could go back in time, what would you do different?

In the beginning I thought of other handymen as the enemy, my competition. I now realize that are great sources of information, and properly maintained could be a asset.

What do you think it takes to be successful as a handyman?

To be successful as a handyman, it takes drive. Tell everyone you meet that you can be there to help them. Watch video’s on projects to see how others accomplish the same jobs you do, or to learn new skills.

What motivates you?

My independence has always been the greatest motivator. Not wanting to work for somebody else.

What kinds of people do you have difficulty dealing with? Any good stories?

Dealing with customers is always a challenge.Over the years, and in dealing with 1000’s of customers, my best advice is to quit talking and start listening. The customer tends to up-sell themselves. The less I talk, more work gets done. Being quiet and focused on your job generally displays and is recognized as competence.

How do you like to spend your free time? How do you balance your business and personal life?

I enjoy fixing up the 1920’s bungalow I am living in. Mainly because being able to see the results of my work all around me is very satisfying. I put work above all recreation and in the end, I find that when I really want to vacation I have the money to do it!

Do you have a website for your business that you would like to share?

I have 2 main websites http://myorlandohandyman.com and http://orlandoshandyman1.com
My DIY handyman blog is http://orlandohandymantips.blogspot.com

A lot of new handymen seem to have problems pricing jobs. Is there any advice you can offer them?

Pricing jobs can be quite frustrating. I try to schedule quotes at a time that I could actually start and finish the work while I am there. I generally do a new customer service call that is $60 this includes the first 2 hours. Then $30 a hour after that.
Existing customers, I play it by ear and ask questions and listen,listen listen. I will even ask what they expect to pay. (This method may surprise you!)

What are the most common mistakes you see other handymen make?

I get so many jobs here because handymen are quoting what they want to make in day not what is a fair rate.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the business?

Just starting out in business as a handyman, can be hard. Get out there and talk to everyone you see. Tell them what you do. Be confident!

Comments

  1. Doug Aultman says

    My favorite part of the interview was the, “Every once and a while I might use another handyman to work with me on lager projects” quote. It is never good to drink alone! ; )

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