Episode 20: Allen Lee, The Handyman Journey

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Learn more about our host Allen Lee in this special “Meet The Host” episode. Our normal handyman and contractor guest interviews will start again on May 1st 2023.

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Audio Transcription

Hello friends and welcome to another episode of the handyman success podcast. My name is Jason, call one of your co hosts and today I am joined by Alan Lee, my other co hosts, but it’s a special episode where we are interviewing each other, get to know your host episodes. Before we get back to our regular scheduled programming, I know we’ve had a hiatus here over the last few months in releasing new interviews and episodes. We’re gonna ramp things back up this year. And we just got a lot of questions about who the heck are these guys. And so we thought we’d have a couple episodes where we interview each other so you can get to know us. And hopefully that’s helpful to you. If you don’t want to know about us, then I’d skip this one. But it should be an awesome time. So today I’m going to be interviewing Alan Lee, owner of honestly handyman services, handyman journey business coaching, and he’s got a heck of a YouTube channel, and just other kind of social sphere, if you will. But before asking me all in his first question. Just to recap here, our mission at the handyman success podcast is to teach and inspire other home service businesses by really just shining a spotlight on our guests. You know, when they share estimates, pricing marketing, what works, what doesn’t, the nuts and bolts, the actual how to do business. That is normally what we do. And certainly our passion and mission is to, to do that to ultimately teach and inspire so. But that being said, I’m excited. Hopefully you get some teaching and inspiration from learning a little bit more about Alan Lee and his story. So Alan, if you could just give us a lay of the land about who you are and where you are, and then your the businesses that you operate currently.

Awesome. Hey, Jason, thanks for having me on. Yeah, my name is Alan Lee, and I am 34 years old, and I live just outside of Sacramento, California. Born and raised, West SAC, just 30 minutes from here. Let’s see. In 2016, I started up honestly, handyman services. And then shortly after that, I followed a bunch of people and learned a whole bunch of things off of watching people do YouTube videos, you know, and one day I got a bug up my butt. Can I say that on this bug on bug up my bucket that cut that? Cut that cut that? Yeah, you know, I got a little like hankering right? And I’m like, I want to make a YouTube video. And my and I kept talking about my wife. Like, why don’t you just go make a dang YouTube video. So I grabbed my phone, I went out to my tool trailer and I shot the worst YouTube video that I’ve ever seen. But that was my very first YouTube video that was somewhere in 2017 or something. And I kind of did a YouTube video YouTube channel along with my handyman journey. And that kind of turned into this handyman journey consulting business because people started asking me how I did things, how I arrange things, how I you know, charge for this, how I do marketing for that, how I build these systems, and it’s just really been a pleasure. So that kind of morphed into another business, which is the handyman journey business coaching. And that’s been absolutely fantastic. So I’ve been kind of running those two businesses side by side here for the last Well, honestly, handyman for about six years. The handyman journey for about five ish or so. And it’s just, it’s just really been awesome. So that’s what I’m currently doing. Currently, I’m upstairs in my executive suite, as we call it, it’s actually just like a, like a storage place above our main office that eventually I want to build walls in and have an office and stuff. So that’s where I currently am. And that’s currently what I’m doing.

Okay, awesome, man. I remember that first YouTube video, and your recent ones have much improved.

Thank you. Thank you. Just a little bit though, just a little bit.

Yeah. So if what I’d like to hear is a more kind of detailed like, you know, how did you start your business journey, your handyman journey? Like, what were you doing before? Honestly, handyman came out of the closet? And that’s way to put it but what were you like, what? What what prompted, what was the fire that got you started on your business journey, kind of just give us a background of how you started as a as your entrepreneur, your handyman journey?

Yeah, so I have I’ve always been an inquisitive mind, I guess you could say, or an annoying brat, depending on who you ask. Right? But like, I remember, I would always be that kid who asked why, why, why, why? And then, you know, my mom would always get really mad at me and I think she put a curse on me because she said, she said to me when I was younger, she said, Man, Alan, I hope one day you have a kid that asks why about everything so you understand. And I’ve gotten that my daughter is inquisitive, just like me and it’s yeah Uh, it can get on your nerves a little bit, but it’s a good trait to have. So, I was always inquisitive, growing up, whenever someone was working on something, right, something like, kind of like that, you know, when there’s a next door neighbor or a guy with his hood up, you got to go over and talk to him, you know, find out what you know what kind of carburetor he’s got on that car, it will kind of oily runs in it will kind of fuel this and that, you got to find that stuff out. Right? So that was kind of me figuring out how stuff worked, figuring out what I could fix what I you know, what I needed help with. So anytime a neighbor was working on something, I was always right there helping or trying to figure out or annoying them. Again, whoever you ask, it depends. And then it all started really, in 2016, my wife was a part of this at home business, and were invited to this to this, what do you call it a, like a coaching seminar, right? It was kind of like a financial wealth, health guru person, right. And we kept getting invited to this thing, you got to come, you got to come, you got to come. And we kept throwing all the excuses in the book, and we’re like, now we ain’t got money, we don’t want to go, we don’t need that, like, we’re good. We, you know, whatever. At the time, I was an auto mechanic. You know, I, I really didn’t, you know, enjoy what I was doing a whole lot I did at the very beginning. But it quickly got to this point where I had kind of like exhausted all my efforts, and didn’t see the fruit that I wanted to see in that. So I was kind of just getting frustrated. So ultimately, we bought tickets to go to this dang, you know, wealth guru, you know, seminar thing. And I remember we bought it on a credit card, because we didn’t have the money to buy these tickets. They were like, I don’t even know 300 500 bucks, whatever it was. So we went to this seminar, I think the first one was in San Antonio, Texas. And well, I guess fast forward, we bought these on a credit card, okay. And right away, I’m like, Okay, I gotta pay this credit card off. Because First off, this Guru is going to be a waste of money. So I have to find out a way to actually make some more money to pay this stupid thing off. Because we didn’t want to go to this thing. Anyways, we just bought the tickets to shut the people up. So they’d stop asking us if we would go. I gotta, I gotta figure out a way to make extra money. So what I did is I created again, this horrible flyer offering handyman services, because I’m like, I can do handyman work, you know, in the nights and weekends, and remake this 500 bucks, like, I could do that and pay it off. And we’ll be good to go. I created this flyer. And man, I just absolutely fell in love with it. I remember the first job that I got was one of my old bosses, his daughter wanted to remodel her kitchen. And, you know, I know there’s legal implications or whatever, but actually ended up not charging her more than $500 to remodel this kitchen. It was it was a really cheap job like so she reached out to me, she’s like, Hey, Alan, I want you to remodel this kitchen for me. I’m like, sure I’ve never remodeled kitchen. So we started off just demoing, I charged her like 50 bucks, you know, was there like four nights or something like that. And and then you know, we put we put cabinets in, we put counters on we put kitchen sink, and we put this and it probably only totaled like 400 bucks the whole job. It was absolutely ridiculous. But nonetheless, around the end of that job, we went to this seminar. And, you know, like it you know, needless to say, it gave me the fire within to actually start this handyman business full time. It was it was a seminar that was really motivating you to be the person that you’ve always wanted to be. And I had never really thought about that. Because I was always stuck into this person that like this box that I needed to fit in to provide for my family, rather than ever thinking that I could be something better or something different. You know, it’s always like you hear that saying Like father like son, right? If you know dad works at a job for 40 years retires get the gold watch. That’s what I’m gonna do. Right That’s the plan. But I quickly found out there was a different way. And so I went to this seminar got the information I needed to start this handyman business. It wasn’t handyman business specific by any means. So I still didn’t know what the heck I was doing as far as like business goes, but I had the determination and the willpower to make something more of myself than what I was. So I went home. I remember my wife and I we talked about wanting to do this handyman business full time. And we wanted to start January 1 2017 which would have been full time. Now I had started part time I think it was you know, September or something like that 2016 And in you know in between there is when we went to that seminar, this and that. And then we’re like okay, well, if I want to start this thing full time January 1, all of December I need to work every single night and every single weekend. Come on this business so that I could get the clientele needed to actually launch this business full time in January. We made that decision and it was gonna be hard. We talked about it, we’re like, that means I’m barely gonna see you. Like, it’s gonna be really hard this December. And we made that decision together. And we went for it. And I remember one review that always comes up every year is somewhere in December, I was out in someone’s front yard weed eating they had weeds like up to your you know, up to your knees weed eating with a headlamp on in the middle of the night. Like that was that was what I did to kind of get that stuff going in December.

Photo, there’s a photo. There’s the photo, right? Look, yeah, yeah,

they have lamp like weed eating late at night. Yeah, yeah, it was, it was crazy. But that’s what I did that December, you know, I did whatever I needed to do. And then I got some funny stories of when I first started that first week in January, I sure learned a lot of lessons at first week, but and then kind of the rest is history. Man, I just never looked back. There has been a few times where I’ve thought, man, maybe I should go back. Because I’m crazy. But ultimately, just keep plugging away and keep keep plowing forward. So that’s kind of the the history of how I got here. That might be a little bit more than what you asked, but that’s kind of how I got here.

Yeah, that’s perfect. Man. Quick one follow up question to that. Because I know it’s a question a lot of people have is, you know, you had your job as the, you know, leader of the household and the main provider is you got to, you got to make up your salary that you’re making as an auto mechanic. So how, how long did it take for you to start making at least, like matching your your auto mechanic wages?

Well, I was actually making more than my auto mechanic wages before I started going full time. Yeah, I calculated with expenses

and all that stuff. Cuz I know a lot of people were like, Oh, I made like, $3,000. But it’s like, oh, well, then you got to deduct all these different things for the

materials? Well, see, that’s that’s a good point, right? Like, I didn’t keep track of anything. Like I remember doing taxes at the end of 2017. And my accountant asked me like, well, how much money did you make? And I’m like, I don’t know, like, how much money you spend, like, I don’t know, like, I didn’t have any record of anything like, my, I didn’t have a CRM, I’d have an invoicing estimate platform. I created my estimates, invoices on Google Docs, you know, and I had like, a different folder or different file for each client. And so it was, it was absolutely horrible. Right? So that’s a very good question. At the time, I thought I had replaced the money, because what I would do is I would go to work. And I think, I think I calculated I think I was making like 180 bucks a day. And then after work, I would work for four hours. So from what, five to six, six to 7788 to nine, you know, and I would work for 50 bucks an hour. So that make 200 bucks right there. And I’m on make 200 bucks and making more than I did all day. Right? But those expenses are very important. I’ve never actually gone back and calculated that to see when exactly I started making a profit. I sure felt like I was making a profit, though. So that’s a very good question. I probably couldn’t give you an honest answer of when I started. Or when I was able to replace that. I would think probably when I felt when I felt secure enough to like, you know, have my stuff covered was maybe a year in the you know, because once you get you think you’re making all this money, but once you get hit with taxes, and you start getting liability insurance, and all that crap, stuff starts adding up very quickly. And I think the as, as I’ve been doing this coaching business, I realized that that’s the number one thing most people don’t have, which is what what I didn’t have and struggled with was just the kind of accounting and bookkeeping that you needed to do when you first start out as people just don’t have that. I didn’t have that. Yeah. Just knowing how much it costs to run a business and actually keeping track of how much each job makes you how much each job costs you and how much profit you made. You know, that’s something that I definitely didn’t do. So that probably didn’t answer your question, but so yeah, long story short, I don’t really know because that first year was like a blur. I was just going for it. But you felt like you were

okay. I felt like I was making more than my job out of the gate. Yeah, yeah. It must have been enough because you’re here you said

it’s been a it’s been some hard years for sure. I mean, it hasn’t all been fluffy bunnies and rainbows for sure. But I’ve never we’ve never been without which has been great. Yeah. So on that note, um,

what is, you know, maybe like one or two of like some of the toughest, you know, bottom of the roller coaster. Like lows that that you’ve experienced in, in your business journey?

Um, well, I think I think one that comes to my mind from just out of the gate is really has to do with my personality and my lack of taking responsibility for what I need to take responsibility of, you know, a couple of years ago, we had a guy work for us, and he kind of just ran the show. And I was so passive that I let it happen, you know, and we finally got to a point I finally grew as a person where I needed to cut that relationship off, because it was just so codependent that it wasn’t good for any of us, you know. And that was, that was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Because having to fire someone and take away their livelihood is something that you never forget, you never forget, you know, and even if it’s someone who’s done bad things to you, someone who has wronged you, you just never forget that. And that just it really takes a strong emotional toll on you, when you have to make that decision to take someone’s paycheck away. You know, that’s really hard. But I think at the end of the day, you have to make sure that you’re taking care of first, you know, I love I love the saying, and I use it quite often is that in an airplane, right, and in the event of oxygen going away, right, they want you to put your mask on first and then put your kids on and then help Grandma, you know, if you don’t put your mask on first, you’re going to die before you can help anyone else out. So if you’re spending your whole career, or all of your energy, helping someone out, and you’re not helping yourself out, and you’re not covering your expenses, you’re gonna die before you can even help someone out. So there’s absolutely no point in continuing, you know, so and that’s probably one of the biggest emotional lows that I’ve had in my business. And then other ones have just been times where, say, you know, you hire a guy, and he just, he does a lot of things wrong, that you didn’t know about, right. And after you after you get rid of that guy, which again, is extremely hard to get rid of a guy. But the reviews and the comebacks that that keep coming in for weeks, and even months after that guy has left, that you now have to deal with, is just emotionally draining. Because even though you’ve gotten rid of that problem person, you still have to deal with all the problems they created and the bombs that they left behind in your business. And so the one piece of advice, if I could go back and do it differently, is for me to grow a pair a lot quicker and and really realize that I am who God says I am. And I can stand firm in that and I can take care of myself, you know, and I can stand up to other people I can demand respect, you know, so that’s kind of, in a whole nutshell, kind of where my mind went when you ask that question.

Yeah, you kind of have to learn to rip the band aids off faster and faster. Until because you you identify a situation you’re like, this is never gonna work. This is a detriment, and you know, sharing that news, like firing somebody, it’s just like, you know, there’s no, there’s no internal pep that you can do to make it any better. Like you just have to have to do it. So yeah, great advice, man. On the flip side, what are what like what would you say is the biggest achievement that you have in in your business? And then also, you know, related to that is like, like a big personal achievement in this journey? Yeah, so

the biggest achievement I would say just by far and this is both personal and business but just the ability to have freedom in my life. You know, I’m no longer held captive by a nine to five business or nine to five kind of job that I have to go to to perform. This handyman business has really afforded me a lot of freedom that I would have never had if I hadn’t made that if I hadn’t made that choice. Namely one. When my daughter was born, she was born with a lot of medical issues in 2018. And we’re in the in the NICU for about about three weeks but I All in all took about a month and a half off. And it was just absolutely fantastic to be able to do that. I was still the only guy in my business but I was able to have enough money saved up in my business to kind of float that and my clients were more than more than appeasing right, like they they said, Oh yeah, no worries. Come whenever you can and They stayed on my schedule until I could actually get back to them. So they didn’t cancel the work. So when I came back to work, I had a full schedule just like I did before. Absolutely fantastic. And then a lot of things just revolve around family and freedom, because, again, to address more of my daughter’s medical issues, in 2019, we went to St. Louis for a month and a half. And we were able to do that. And then, kind of weird through this online YouTube channel and the handyman journey, I was able to meet people that actually lived in St. Louis. So I was able to pick up work in St. Louis with those people, those handyman, that that have a business there, and they were gracious enough to bring me along, and let me work with them for that month and a half. That was absolutely fantastic. I, that’s crazy to meet people from all around the world to do that. And then again, had to address some more of my daughter’s medical issues in 2021. And spent a month in Florida for that. And, again, was able to at that point, have a have an established team here, working in Sacramento, where they could work here in Sacramento while I was there in Florida, you know, kind of helping out as I could. But ultimately just having that freedom to do things like that. And then I think on another aspect, it’s allowed me the freedom to be with my family when they need me. But it’s also allowed me the freedom to work on other things that I feel God calling me to do. So, you know, it’s allowed me to work for a lot of different charities that I would have normally not had the time to do. It’s allowed me to give to those charities. Through the business, it’s allowed me to create other businesses, we now have three or four different businesses that we’ve been able to create and establish after creating this business, and it’s just been awesome. So those are kind of the things that that the handyman business has afforded me. And it’s also afforded me a whole heck of a lot of fun. Because I get to go out and work with my hands build crazy things. Clients request crazy things all the time. And it’s just fun. I get to be that inquisitive little kid again, right? Like people have an issue going on. And they’ve had, you know, four or five different people come in and they can’t figure out what’s going on. But I get to go in and figure it out. You know, like that’s really exciting to me is it’s just it’s best of both worlds, I get to do what I love, and I get the freedom to also do what I love, which is pretty cool.

Awesome, man. Thanks for sharing all that. Related to that last point is what’s your favorite handyman service for you to actually do I know your business. You guys do a lot of fences, gates, ceiling fans, you know the normal stuff. But what’s your personal favorite when you’re because what you’re a technician now, one day a week? Yeah, one day a week on Fridays? Yep. Yep. So you know, when when that schedule comes Friday, you’re talking to your office manager, hey, if there’s any of these kinds of jobs, put them on Friday, like what’s your favorite kind of job to work on.

By far electrical, all the way electrical, electrical, I love installing new can lights I love installing new ceiling fans where there’s no ceiling fan. I just love the thought of, of taking something that cannot be seen ie electricity and and manipulating it. Right. So you are literally manipulating something you cannot see. And to me that’s just fascinating. To be able to have just that ability. And then when something also doesn’t work quite right, being able to reverse engineer that thing that you cannot see electricity and being able to figure out what may possibly go wrong, whether that’s a loose, neutral, loose, hot, loose, you know ground whatever it is like I just love the puzzle that electricity is it just really it gets me excited for sure. Okay, sweet.

So similar question across all your businesses with coaching with running a handyman business and being a handyman. You guys do real estate investing your YouTube channel, you’re a brand ambassador for a couple different brands. What do you like the most? Like, what is there’s so much variety there? And I know that’s probably a benefit in of itself. But what just like is the thing like if all those things and all the tasks that you do within them that like you just get most amped

about. It’s a good point. I think the question, huh? And why? And why? Yeah, I think like a little bit. I think throughout different stages of my career, it’s been different things. Man, I think the answer would be D all of the above. You know, it’s just, it’s it’s literally a package right? Like, I love being able to come into work and create systems and processes for my employees to follow that make their lives easier. and make our business more efficient. But I also love coaching people and sharing with them, those same systems and processes that make their businesses easier that help them discover that freedom, help them literally change their lives, literally change their mind, and allow them to understand that they can be something that they never thought they could be. I also love the real estate, because it’s passive income, who doesn’t love that. And it’s just, it’s absolutely fantastic. Because all of it together just gives me the freedom to focus on my family, but also get the thrill out of work that I want to have. But if I had to choose one thing, yeah, man, if I had to choose one thing, I don’t know, I don’t think it would be installing, installing ceiling fans every day, I don’t think that would be it, I think it would have to be coaching, you know, is pouring into people. Because that same light bulb that went off in my mind, when I went to that Guru seminar, when I thought I didn’t, and here’s a little tip, if you think you don’t need it, you know, and if like, in the back, you know, if you’re like coming up with all these excuses of why you don’t need it or, or why you’re better than that, you probably need it, it will probably benefit you, you know, you you need to listen to your soul, not your excuses, you know, and the thing is like, that same little thing that went off in me, like I get to see people have that same experience every single day, by coaching them by helping them start there. But like, I’ve gotten so many, just comments on YouTube, even just like how informative my videos have been, and how transformational they have been, because they’ve allowed people to actually start this business or have a different aspect, or a different viewpoint on life. And I think that’s the most rewarding, really. And plus, that can be done from anywhere, which is pretty cool. So I could do that while going on vacation with my family or whatever. But I think that’s that satisfaction when you can, not when you can have a great experience, and you can figure out a way to share that with the world. I think that’s really where magic happens. Yeah, that’s awesome, man. And I commend you all the time, but

you know, on air, like how much, you know, inspiration that you’ve put into, like 1000s and 10s of 1000s. I mean, I’m curious 100,000 People that have at least had a spark of like, oh, I can make good money being a handyman, like, so many people don’t know that. And it’s like, yeah, you can and just like the influence and inspiration that you’ve given to people, like from YouTube from Facebook, I mean, it’s, it’s it’s not even a number you can quantify, you know, you talk to people in person on coaching calls, but like, the kind of passive, you know, passive revenue, you got passive inspiration happening. So, I commend you for that, man, you do amazing things for this industry, for sure. Well, thank

you. Thank you. Yep. Well,

I think that’s all the time we got, man. Thank you so much for coming on to our podcast. It’s been a pleasure. Anyone listening, you know how you can connect with us with our businesses find more episodes, you know, just Google handyman success podcast, find the links in this video. You know, we create tons of content, especially on his YouTube channel. So you know, we’d love to connect with you leave us a comment. We do. Check that out and appreciate, you know, any all of our audience because it just enables us to keep doing this and, you know, it’s it’s just an amazing thing to be able to do. So, Alan, thanks again, man. We’ll see you on the next episode of the handyman success podcast. Yeah, see

you guys.