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Attention Handymen! How Can You Triple Your Income?

Why does an appliance repairman make three times as much as a handyman?

Often when a man finds himself out of work or between jobs, he considers using his handyman skills and developing a handyman business and making a lot of money. It certainly seems logical; everybody has small jobs around the house that they need to be taken care of. There is never a shortage of work.  Where is the flaw in this logic?

handyman cartoonActually, the logic is only partially flawed. It is almost accurate but it does not go far enough. There is plenty of work.  A  handy person who does the slightest bit of advertising will get a lot of calls. He will always be busy.  The only snag is most folks who are looking for a handyman are not willing to pay a living wage. I have had many conversations with handymen who were considering migrating over into appliance repair. They had a pretty accurate sense that appliance repair men made a whole lot more money than they did.

In all cases, it was typical for the guys that I talked to gross about thirty dollars an hour. Of course they had to pay for gas, insurance, vehicle repair and tools  out of that $30 dollars per hour. I’m sorry folks but $30 per hour will not cut the mustard. In addition to that, customers are never willing to pay for all your trips back-and-forth to Home Depot, flawed or incorrect materials or broken tools. At the end of the year, these hard-working guys were lucky to net $30,000.

Why are customers so reluctant to pay full price for a handyman?  It’s actually quite simple, they don’t respect what you are doing.  It looks too easy. They figure if their husband would get his lazy ass off of the sofa, he could do the odd jobs and it wouldn’t cost anything. Or their lazy son or son-in-law. They also figure that if they had the right tools, they could probably do it themselves. Basically, they have no respect for the value of a handy man’s time.

There is another huge problem, and that is a handyman is supposed to be a master of all the trades. Not only that, he is supposed to stock all parts to perform all jobs. So a handyman needs to be a master electrician, plumber, carpenter, plasterer, tile setter and on and on.  And he needs to be driving a huge semi full of materials all over town with any and all parts and tools he will ever need. Obviously, this is impossible. So a handyman, inevitably, must fumble around and waste a lot of time going to and from the various supply houses. Time for which he is not paid.

doctorThe only time people are willing to pay high prices is when the required skills are highly respected or very mysterious. Obviously doctors are a good example. People are afraid of electricity so they will happily pay for an electrician. They will pay a lot to have their computer repaired.  Happily, appliance repairman to fits into this category. Computerized appliances make it easier for appliance repairmen to charge a hundred dollars an hour like other highly skilled trades. Modern appliances are very mysterious.

So what really happens? The appliance repair tech comes in the house for an hour and collects his 200 bucks. The poor handyman works all day for the same amount of money. To add insult to injury, the housewife happily pays the appliance tech his money and bitches at the poor handyman for being so slow and leaving a bit of sawdust on the floor.

I’d love to hear your comments on the handyman trade. Have you ever known a handyman who made a respectable living?

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1 comment on “Why Can’t Handymen Make Any Money? Triple Your Income!”

  1. Corey says:

    You are right about won’t pay crap. I have done handyman work off and on, and have years of experience in the construction trades. Here in California, the limit for an unlicensed handyman is $500 parts and labor. The money you will make where I live as a handyman will not make the expenditure of licensing and a bond worth it. Contractors do not want to do little jobs. With the price of materials these days, almost every job , even small, exceeds $500. I charge $50 an hour, and 90% of people say no, too much. I have even had a couple people laugh and say no lowly laborer is worth even half that. I do electrical, plumbing, tile, flooring, plaster, appliance repair, etc. it does not matter if you know 20 plus trades. The people who own property and can actually pay you see you as no better than a fast food worker, and think you should be paid as such.

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