Episode 27: Kevin Moules, Dynamic Handyman Solutions

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About this episode

Engineer-turned-handyman, Kevin Moules, shares his journey in starting and operating his handyman business. Kevin is a successful solo Owner/Operator that has built and achieved what a lot of new handyman business owners seek to have – a profitable business that also gives freedom to spend time with family. Learn how Kevin transitioned from a full-time job to his business, how he estimates, prices, markets, and much more.

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Audio Transcription

Jason Call 0:00
Hello friends and welcome to another episode of the handyman success podcast. My name is Jason call owner of handyman marketing pros. I’m here with my co host, Alan Lee, the owner of handyman journey business coaching and honestly handyman services in Sacramento. I also want to take one second to shout out Alan and rich. So, you know, you guys have listened to us know Alan and his honestly, handyman service. So in the last couple of weeks, Alan hired a general manager rich who is promoting the company. So now Alan is the official CEO just doing the business and the marketing side. And the general manager is running his own his own company. So I just wanted to shout out Alan, and congratulations to rich because it’s a huge massive step that Alan’s taking in his handyman business to further remove himself. So anyway, just want to take a moment to share that with you all about Alan’s journey in his handyman business. today. We are joined by Kevin moules of dynamic handyman solutions in Turlock, California. Thank you so much for joining us, Kevin. If you don’t mind, give us a little lay of the land and kind of where you’re at in your business right now.

Kevin Moules 1:16
Yeah, thank you guys, so much for the opportunity. It’s an honor to be here, watch. Pretty much every podcast so far you guys put out and it’s just great to hear everyone’s different stories. So again, my name is Kevin walls. I’m located here in Turlock, California and Central Valley, owner of dynamic handyman solutions. I’ve been in business for seven years, as of May, three, those were part time actually at the beginning. So I’ve only been full time with the business since 2019. When I left my engineering job. My background is kind of that I’m a registered mechanical engineer in the state of California. So that’s what I did for seven years before I kicked off this handyman business.

Jason Call 2:02
Awesome, awesome. Let’s get a little bit more information about like your current business, then we’ll kind of jump into your story I definitely want to hear about like the engineering and kind of like how, you know your how you were led to open a handyman business. If you don’t mind kind of sharing, like, like just rough, like revenue numbers as far as like what you’re planning this year. And do you have any, like specific focus, like within your business as far as service focus, like all residential financing, and kind of talk through a little bit of that with us?

Kevin Moules 2:35
Yeah, so um, I think we’re talking earlier about this has probably been the slowest year I’ve had in six years on this business. Just I think most people listening to this are probably feeling that in their own market and just the economy in general. I’m hoping to break 200,000 Gross this year. We’re already in right kind of the end of September, only three more months left and things get slower in the winter typically. So I don’t know if I’ll break that but but that’s hopefully going to be the goal for this year. I was kind of looking at my numbers when I first started my business. So my first year part time 2017 I started in 2016 but halfway through, I grossed $54,000. As a side gig gross back in 2017. So definitely have grown because obviously now I dedicate full time this is how I feed my family here is my handyman business specific services so I do a lot of fence repairs. I actually have my C 13 which is the California contractor’s license for fencing because it was one of the services where you have to charge quite a bit because materials are expensive and the labor just takes a lot for fencing. I don’t do huge jobs but I didn’t want the CSLB on my back if anything happened so I figured you know if anything happens I have my C 13 in my back pocket if anyone has any questions. I do a lot of I specialize in small to medium sized repairs. I’m not doing big work again, general contractor but maintenance I do a lot of furniture assembly. Do a lot of that I just put a swingset together the other day that was six hours I work alone so my team is me myself and I all three of us. Sometimes it’s hard to work with each other. Let me tell you, we kind of bag on each other sometimes. I do a lot of sounds kind of unique cabinet floor repair. I don’t know Alan if you guys do a lot of this but man I do a lot of cabinet for for the sink. The sink cabinet is a lot of renter’s even how many times you open your sink cabinets, I don’t but I replace a lot of those every year that’s kind of unique furniture assembly a lot of pins repair, light light plumbing, light electrical, so light fixtures fans, I do a ton of fans. They have probably done fiber 500 1000 Since I’ve probably started this business, because that a lot of TV mounting, so small services, that’s what I specialize in the stuff, you’re not going to call a general contractor to come in and do for you.

Allen Lee 5:12
That’s awesome. And so you say you have your seat 13 for fencing, how long? How long ago? Did you get that? How long have you had that? And maybe you could talk a little bit about the costs associated with that, because that’s kind of an interesting topic here in California, because everyone’s like, Well, how do you make a living in California? Because you can only charge $500 per job. So maybe you could talk a little bit about that license and how that experience has been for you.

Kevin Moules 5:35
Yeah, so California, there are schools that you can go to, to help prepare you. It’s like a contractor’s test school. And there’s one here in Modesto, you can do it online. I did online. Because now that you mentioned, I’m trying to remember when I did it was actually pandemic, because every school was locked down for actual in person classes. So it must have been like, 2020, when I started looking into it, the classes was $900. You don’t have to do that. But the thing with it is they give you a booklet, I mean a folder about this thick, just study materials. And the thing is what the class, which I learned becoming an engineer, you can I mean, engineering tests books about this thing, you don’t need to know everything now, right? There’s specific questions. So by going through the school, you’re using their knowledge, because they kind of know what the test questions are going to be. And so the material is a lot more concise, precise on what you’re studying. So I studied all that. And then the school also has test practice tests that you can take. And you can take them unlimited at times all you know, for like two months, you pay for a certain amount of time. So I basically just did the test over and over and over until I got pretty much 90 90% 100% All the tests because you start memorizing the answers. So because you see the same questions over and over again, now, when you take the test, there are quite a few of those questions that you seen already. A lot of them you don’t you know, it’s Plan Reading, things like that. So that’s the route I went, because, again, I just want to pay the money, know the information I needed to study. And then you go into a room, it’s a thing, it’s a four hour test, because on the in California, you also have to take a loss test. And that doesn’t matter what contractor license you have can be beat to can be fencing concrete, you have to take a loss portion. And then you take your trade portion. And so the one that most people fail is the last portion because it’s just all kinds of shenanigans about how much you can take, build people how you set things up the laws. So again, that class covers everything. So that’s the $900 was well spent. And you know, I pass it on the first time. And so I just was just one of those because a finished job is smaller finished job I do up to about 30 feet of replacement. I won’t do 100 feet. I mean, I work by myself, I have, we can talk about this later. But super important to have a Rolodex of people, you can refer out to your customers that you actually trust, not just someone you heard about. And if I do that, kind of put a little star Asterix here and tell people I don’t know these people. I just heard about them. But we can talk about that later. But that’s yeah, a little bit on the C 13. That way I could charge 2000 $3,000 for a finished job. Set of gates I built several years ago. It’s about $3,000 all steel gates, Redwood pickets everything custom built painted. So I just don’t want no one on my back asking questions. Like you can’t charge that like, yeah, I can I have my seat 13 Although I’m a handyman.

Allen Lee 8:49
Yeah. And so is there any other costs associated like insurance bonding? What are the things that are required for that?

Kevin Moules 8:55
Yeah. So because I work alone, I don’t need workman’s comp in California. So if I have employees like bios, Allen Yeah, I definitely would under that, by law, I definitely need workman’s comp so I don’t need to pay that. I’m not bonded. I wasn’t the C 13. That was not required. But there was maybe that’s a lie. I’m trying to think now. I do pay for something. I mean, I have my general liability insurance already. I business, but the licensing does cost money. So that just hold the license, because it’s California, they want their money every two years to keep any contractor’s license up and going. So that I do pay for and then I think there is a bonding it’s I think it’s $25,000 the state just kind of upped it. And then I just the people I did the school training from, they sell the bonds too. So I already worked with those people. I paid them I just made it easier for me. That’s the associated costs ongoing. It just you have to keep renewing it just like my engineering license. It just, you got to keep keep it up and pay it up every couple of years.

Allen Lee 10:10
Okay, awesome.

Jason Call 10:13
Yeah, so, man, let’s let’s dig into your past

Kevin Moules 10:21
guys. I joke you know, I came to Jesus, back in that way. Okay, so here’s my path. So born and raised a farm kid and I still helped my parents farm a little bit we farm Ammons and those, some of those listening are gonna say, What the heck are those in 99.9% of the rest of the world, y’all know him as almonds. Welcome to Central Valley where I’m at, we kind of shake the hell out of it, and it’s called Ammons. So that’s how he knows because his wife’s from Ripon. So it was all about it. So that’s what I grew up doing. So working with my hands working with animals love being outside. So agriculture, so I decided to go to school for Ag Engineering, more mechanical design for ag equipment, because I grew up with tractors, equipment, fabrication, welding, I love doing all that stuff. And I still do. So went to school, to a really well known school here in California called Cal, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, one of the few Ag Engineering programs in the state, went down there, got my degree, and then went and got my engineering license after I started working, so then I went to work for seven years. So farm kids kind of go one of two ways. One, they hate what they grew up with. And so they don’t want a part of it. And I have a lot of friends who did that, right. They’re just like, I’m tired of ag I’m tired with the cows. You know, if it’s a dairy, you know, I don’t want to do that. I’m the opposite. I really love it. And I wish I was farming full time. Honestly, that’s kind of my, one of my goals in life, especially for my kids. And so being an engineer, I was behind the desk, and farm kids and deaths, like me don’t work out to God. So, after about five, six years, I started getting a little stir crazy. Like being behind the desk at least six hours, you know, because we’re doing design work 3d modeling on a computer that just part of the nature, there’s a vast majority or vast difference in engineering jobs, I could have been test engineer at a company where I’d be outside it just where I landed, the company I worked for was right up the road, 30 minutes. And they did farm equipment for harvesting specifically so one of my dreams to work for them. And I did so I did that for seven years. I enjoyed it enjoy the people I work with, but I needed to work with my hands. So I started getting this itch and I started my handyman business part time in 2016. And then I did it part time for three years before I went full time.

Allen Lee 12:59
So what what gave you the the original idea to do handyman stuff like you just running into stuff you do or what?

Kevin Moules 13:06
So I’m always trying to make a little extra money. We’re a single income home. So my wife stays home with our kids. And I was trying to make extra money somehow, beyond just what I made at work. I was a salaried employee, no chance for overtime. Kind of the way some of the California laws, salaried employees, you get paid you get paid. So I’d like try to work weekends like well, we don’t pay you any extra money, well, then I’m not going to do that. So I buy and sell stuff. And then the handyman things like what can I do? So I started making a whole list. You know, during lunchtime, what can I do? What do I know how to do? I actually taught adjunct at a local junior college that I went to, and teaching ag mechanics so ag shop class so I did that for five semesters every week to make a little extra income and I enjoyed that. But what do I enjoy? I like farming, it’s really hard to get into farming, especially like part time equipment, leasing ground, it’s not cheap. So I was like, I have a bunch of tools at home. I’ve worked on homes pretty much again back to the farm kid thing my dad you know always working on our own house or a house I was on a property we had doing some remodel work. No Pro, but I’ve done it have all these tools. So one of the big things was the low barrier to entry and handyman work. Literally I had Zozobra power tools drills, you know, just being a farm kid I always had that worked on on cars. What can I do with it? So then I wrote a whole list and I think I found it the other day what go I know how to build a fence. I know and I literally wrote all this list and I would freak out like I don’t know enough. I don’t know enough to start a business. I’m like, but then the way I got over that was like dude, there’s guys that build this In the silver being a window washer, I’m like, That’s all they do is washing windows and like that guy can whoever run a business washing windows, and I know about like 50 different things. Let’s do it. So I was like, I was just trying part time and never intended to be like a full time gig, it was just something to make extra money for our family on top of what I was making as an engineer. And I really wanted to invest in real estate and I wanted to not take that money out of out of my regular income. So I started a part time. You don’t want to know what I was charging, we can get that.

Jason Call 15:37
Well, were you guys.

Kevin Moules 15:42
Oh, here I am as an engineer making, like 50 bucks an hour, you know, right out of college. And be I’m like, Hey, man grew up working outside working with guys in the field ag you know, those guys are, they’re just minimum wage. So at that time, probably $12 An hour like, dude, 25 an hour for like homework, you know, working as a handyman? That’s probably pretty good, especially on Craigslist, though, years of experience. 25 I’m gonna charge 25 an hour, you idiot, like you’re making 50 over here on the desk, and you got to charge 25 I didn’t know. You know who. So? Yeah, we can talk about pricing a little bit later, please make sure to bring that up, because I have some really strong thoughts on guys who are going to start this part time and pricing. So that’s where I started $25 in a Ford Focus.

Jason Call 16:32
And there you go. That’s awesome. So um, yeah, we’d love to talk about the part time side. Let’s let’s see what was about to say here? Oh, yeah. What, like, what prompted you like, what was it like to like, leave your job? Like, what was that decision? Like? Like, what is that? Because you’ve got four kids? No, is that right?

Kevin Moules 16:55
I have four, I started this handyman journey. Business. May a Mother’s Day of 2016. I remember, actually, my first son was born. January 2016. We hadn’t we got married in 2015. So we had our first right away. So I was teaching adjunct started this handyman business and working full time, right after my one year old and started the business. The thing is, I like to take calculated risks, I’m not one of these jump out of the plane and put the parachute on your way down. That’s not my style. Maybe if I was young, and no family and, you know, less responsibility. I know myself, I know, my work ethic, I’ll get it done. Now with the wife and kids, you know, I was like, I’m not gonna do that I gotta build, see that I can get enough built up, before I just jumped ship here. And so that’s why I did it for two years, three years. And it was all every weekend. And every day, not every day, maybe two, three days after work to get that business. And so you know, I just saw the income, you know, like, 54 Gross. So I only keep about like, 50% of that. So I made like, 25 on the side that first year, part time and then maybe another 25 of the year following and sounds like okay, well, that’s only working weekends and couple days afterward. What can I do full time then watching videos watching Allen watching a couple other guys online? Just, you know what to charge how to bring up your pricing. How can I my wife, hey, you know, she knew I was going crazy in the office. And, you know, I’ve dealt with and dealt with depression seriously a long time ago in graduate school. So I kind of had that sense of personally, what I was going on inside, like, I can’t stay behind a desk longer. Like I might go a little crazy. My parents, you know, it’s tough. You know, I see your kid, you know, I’m an adult, you know, my dad, just like you Sure. Like, you just went to school for seven years because I went to graduate school to get a master’s in engineering. And you’re gonna go do handyman work? Like, I’m thinking yeah, I can I can skip the college and done any more work right away, you know. But it was just, I had to do it for my mental state. Because I like working with my hands. And I saw that the income was there. I save the way we did is getting calculated risks. We saved a year’s worth of expenses before I jumped ship. So this thing went south and it just blew up. I would freak out a little bit but then today, I could go back right to where I work. I can I can walk where I was working right now and they’d give me a job that just a relationship we have and and so I can still go back but yeah, it was I have my kids to take care of and my wife. I’m going to save about a year’s worth my wife and I and That way, if anything happens, we’re not freaking out, right, we have a whole year to figure it out. So that’s what I would recommend to people, if you’re doing a part time trying to figure it out, if you’re single, and you’re like, God, just gonna do it fine six months, you know, but I wanted a little more cushion than that. But it was a hard jump, you know, gone to school for seven years to do something I’ve worked in that field for seven years, my income possibility I could probably be making 150 or more at this point, if I was still there, but I’d be behind a desk. So I enjoy what I’m doing now, with my hands. It’s just who I am.

Allen Lee 20:36
That’s good. And I think that that’s one huge thing about this podcast is we want to basically define success, right and successful, it’s different for every person. Some people define it as, you know, a lot of money per year, right? A lot. Some people define it as freedom and things like that. How would you personally define success? Like thinking about kind of your life and kind of where you’re at?

Kevin Moules 20:59
That’s a hard question. I know. Success for me, I know, like, yesterday, I went my kids field trip, he’s a kindergarten. So my wife and I and our two kids and one was in school. So it was cool to be able to, uh, one things are slow. So I didn’t have anything but but at the same time, being able to be like, I can go to that I don’t have to go to the office. I, I wish I could make a little more. I mean, I have this dream in my head of $10,000 a month in passive income is what I would love to do. Because that will give me freedom to like, go farm more. Or think about that a little more, and actually pursue that. So yeah, I mean, success for me. Is it a money thing? I don’t know. I’d like to have more and make more. I’d like to have a little more freedom. But I I mean, there’s days I stay home with the kids, because the wife’s got an appointment, doctor’s appointment, we don’t have to hire a babysitter. I think that’s pretty awesome. I like that flexibility of this business. I’m not tired, I can work my schedule appointments around what I’m doing.

Allen Lee 22:10
Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that that’s one thing I absolutely love too is when my my daughter, she was born in 2018. And she was born with a lot of medical issues. And it was really cool that I was the only guy in the business at the time. But I was able to make every single one of my daughter’s doctor’s appointments for like the next two years, which was awesome. And I think that the handyman business really afforded me that. So I think it’s interesting to think about like, especially from an outsider people listening, they might think, Wow, you were an engineer, like you could make $150,000 Why would you ever leave that? And customers asked me that. Right? Like, why would you do it? You know, it seems like suicide. But I think I think the bottom line is right, you were going crazy sitting behind a desk. And now you have the freedom to actually work with your hands. Maybe you’re not making as much money as you would have. But you have more of that. Freedom, right?

Kevin Moules 23:07
Yeah. Yeah, my customers asked me that question like, hey, so you know, Jason over there got me an awesome handyman website design. And part of it. I’m like one of it’s like, I’m not your average handyman. And people are like, what? And then you read doubts, like, I’m a licensed mechanical engineer in California, like what the heck, this guy’s an engineer. And people ask me like, so I was on your website? Like, you’re an engineer. Like yeah, what the school for seven years? Why are you doing this? Why? So hey, I’m a farm kid, you know, like, we’re doing my hands. And I was behind the desk. And I had to get away from that. And oh, that. That’s cool. That’s interesting story. Would you go back? If I have to, and that’s what it takes to pay the bills. And yeah, but right now, I’m still heads above water still right now. So no, yeah, it’s a good story for people just exactly like, Why would you leave that for a trade like this?

Jason Call 24:04
Whenever Whenever I was leaving my corporate job to start my business, my mom, she said, well, at least he’s employable.

Allen Lee 24:15
Right, right. You know, like,

Jason Call 24:17
it reminded me your story of like your parents like WHAT DO YOU CRAZY went to school for all that stuff. So I had the similar thing. I had so much investment into a career in finance and how to I was working at a good company and and so this this is just a general point of if anyone out there hasn’t started yet. You’re in the early phases like you’re not going to get a ton of like authentic support until you prove that you can you’re getting after it and you’re having some success because yeah, parents you know that they love you so much. They care about you. They you know, they default to that safety of they want a solid paycheck. But anyway, my mom, I’ve never heard her saying like, well, at least you’re employable.

Kevin Moules 24:59
I’ve said here my day As my, my engineering degrees up here on the water just like, You know what, in the day I got a piece of paper. I mean, I got seven years experience. I mean, I can go anywhere in the country right now and get an intro engineering job right like, yeah, you know, insecurity. Other security Yeah, you get laid off Then what?

Allen Lee 25:18
Right? Right?

Jason Call 25:19
So one thing Kevin, you could kind of offer some tips or guidance in the, for the part timers out there because I know a lot of our listeners are either already part time or they’re thinking about starting a business and doing on the side like you did. And since you did it for three years, what would you say some of the highlights there, like maybe some tips and maybe some things to avoid?

Kevin Moules 25:41
Man, it’s tough, y’all, y’all family got to be on board. So my wife already knew as a workaholic, coming from a farming background. So there’s not much downtime in that in that world. And then, just like, I just like to work, and so then having your first kid and newly married and then let’s start this business. So I would encourage people who are doing it part time, you know, if you’re gonna just do it part time, long term, and then just a little, make a little side money, then that’s fine. Like, that’s, that’s cool, you know, and we may you don’t have to push it very hard, maybe do it a couple of days after work. You know, and, and you don’t want to do weekends. So for me, I was trying to make as much money because, you know, I was trying to use that money to invest in real estate and buy rental property. So I was working. I don’t work Sundays. For me, that’s the Lord’s day. So I definitely don’t work Sundays. But every single Saturday, I was pretty much at the door at seven o’clock, I start all my jobs at 730. Here’s my first scatter drops, I’m so every Saturday, I was gone. And probably three to four days a week whenever I could schedule for two years. So it was tough on my wife, and because then the second baby came two years later. So we have three of them, and I was gone. And that was a point where I was like, Okay, I’m making enough revenue, part time, I should be able to double that right full time. I’m doing it part time after work. And so that’s what happened. I kind of double did that first year, obviously, because I already had clientele base built up over three years. So build those relationships with your clients offer a great service. With that, let’s talk about pricing. If you’re okay with that. Journey, bam, put your darn pricing if you’re doing it part time, and I’d sit at my car at lunch and just get sick to my stomach for losing a bit charging 25 an hour, you know, like I didn’t I never charge by the hour. Okay. I don’t know, right way took another like, there’s another guy, Alan knows Dan Perry. We talked about this. He does handyman. I know coaching, but videos and stuff. And that’s where I started out way before I knew about Alan, because he was out there kind of already when me and Alan were starting our businesses in 2016. Dan was already doing stuff. So I learned a lot from him about pricing. And he was an engineer to his background. So I kind of jive with him. And he left because kind of the same thing. And again, I was making 50 on the desk and 25 and, and I would lose bids. And I would like really be hard on myself, Man, I should have charged I should have gave him a lesser bid again, I charge by the job, I just multiply my hourly rate by whatever I think it’s going to take 25 Oh, man, that was stupid. But looking back, because I was like losing jobs and I losing jobs. From my estimates. I’m like, I need jobs, because I’m gonna do this full time. No way wrong way to think about it. Again, I wasn’t really running a business at that point. And I I charge 25 our dollars an hour, but it wasn’t covering my household income or my household. I have a whole spreadsheet of how to calculate exactly what I need to charge per day, and days per year work to cover my business expenses and personal home expenses. Again, single income. So I gotta cover our family expensive and my business expenses. So I know on my spreadsheet again, how many days so I know if I work 50 weeks, a year, five days a week how much I have to make in labor every day to cover those expenses. Again, engineering background spreadsheets, I’m just a nerd. So I figured all that out. So I should have if you’re doing this part time. Who’s your rate? What are you afraid of? Losing the job? Oh, well, you still go back to your day job, you know, the next morning and that’s what I shouldn’t have done. I should have been starting off. You know, Alan’s mentioned this in a lot of his videos like oh, you make 50 at work. Oh, I’ll make 50 as a handyman. That’s great. If you’re doing it on the side, you will do that’ll be perfect, right? But when you’re doing it full time, and then you’re running a business and play that 15, and they ain’t gonna cut it, right, because now you’re covering your family expenses with this business and not your your full time. And so push your rates if you lose the job. All right, try the next color. Maybe the next one, I’ll take that price. I don’t kind of things are really slow right now where I’m at. So I am not really slipping at law, my price, but I’m reducing it a tiny bit, just to make sure I have the income coming in. But not much. I’m not doing what I used to do, like, Oh, that guy didn’t take it. I’ll cut it, you know, 4050 $100 off the next caller. So I always encourage people, if you’re doing this part time, push your price. test that out. You say oh, you know this guy, they charge $100 to chart, hang a TV? Charge $200 If you lose it, okay, well, the next person who calls for a TV $200 Okay, yeah, perfect. When can you be here? Again, I think there’s just the calculated risk, learn what your market will handle while you’re doing it part time. I think that’s a great thing to do. I did not do that. I wish I had I would be have more money in the bank now because I would have been at that rate when I first went full time. And I’ve pushed my prices since I’ve gone full time because, heck, I’m paying $5.50 For gasoline in California right now. So it just it is what it is.

Allen Lee 31:30
Yeah. So so maybe you could dive into a little bit of the mindset there. So I find it interesting that, you know, when we think about pricing, we think, Oh, my price has to be like low enough where people will hire me, right? But even that when you when you gave those quotes for 25 bucks an hour and say was four hours, whatever. So it’s 100 bucks. And people still declined it. Like why do you think those people declined it if it was so cheap?

Kevin Moules 31:56
Yeah, exactly. And I know I’m charging four times that for the same job I voted six years ago, you know, right. I’m not that I wasn’t confident, but just, you know, there’s a lot of guys in Craigslist and I advertise on Craigslist. We’ve heard about advertising buy advertise on Craigslist, three days a week, I get a lot of my business from Craigslist, which is weird, because a lot of people like those are tire kickers. So a lot of them are but most of my pricing is over the phone. What do you got? Send me text, text me some pictures? Hey, you’re probably gonna be looking for $500. Okay, I’ll send you some pictures. So they already got in their mind kind of where I’m at. But there’s a lot of people on there like, you know, 30 years experience 25 An hour like, great. There’s a guy a fence. He’s not a fence contract. He’s a guy in town who does a lot of fences. Hey, hey, what do you charge? Oh, I talked about 30 to 36 of foot. Holy smokes. How do you do that? You know? It’s like, well, I got some guys this and that. Like, man, so alternatively, I was like, Can I send you business for bigger jobs, right? Because he’s got two or three guys, but him find out. He’s a retired fireman. He does it for fun. It’s, it’s, he said boat money, right? So he’s charging way less. He puts out a good product. I trust him. But he’s not trying to feed his family. He’s making 50 60% of his firefighter income. And making this on top. And I’m like, I’m not gonna compete with that. Like, I gotta charge. Whatever, $100 I don’t charge that. But I’m just saying I feed my family and my bills. I don’t have an income. So I have to charge that extra. So why did they turn it down? Alan? I don’t know. Because it just shocks people. And people are still sharp, even now at some of my prayers. What? You know, especially older folks, God bless them. But they’re great. They’re great customers. But one guy called me the other day. And I was like, oh, yeah, that’s probably a security screen door. And something. I was like, yeah, it’s probably going to be at least 300. Oh, my mom was thinking it’s probably going to be less than that. And like, unfortunately, I get a lot of that from retirement folks who haven’t had like, maybe a big repair done on their home lately. And they’re just like, wow, it’s that much. Yeah, I mean, offer a great service. Even the other day, I now after watching things, Alan mentioned that it’s definitely Steven been Alexander talking about a consultation fee to go out. I’ve been doing that for a year or two. That was a huge hurdle to get over. I did not want to lose business because of that again. I was going full time already. And I’m like, Dude, I’m gonna lose jobs. And I do. I do lose jobs. Why? Like landlord coming the other day. He had a huge punch list on a rental. Hey, I want you to come up. Perfect Match. No problem. I’ll go out there $75 We’ll walk through the $75 like, Yeah, but there’s other guys around here like they’ll come out here. No problem, sir. That’s I have no issue with that. You may go with their business. If you have any, you know, thoughts or want me to come out? He’s like, Yeah, well, I’m gonna really take that into consideration. You know, when I’m picking someone I said, absolutely no problem. Yeah, call me back. No problem. Yeah, I have my I have like 50 205 star reviews online. So I tell people, you can go look over there, if you’d like. Yeah, nothing to hide.

Allen Lee 35:25
I think the biggest thing is like, and the reason why those people didn’t accept those estimates, even though the price was so cheap is because there’s not your ideal clients. And that’s a little, that’s the whole thought behind charging a consultation fee is if you tell someone, yeah, I’d love to come out, it’d be 75 bucks come out, and they say 75 bucks, like, I’m not paying you that, you know, well, then they aren’t your ideal client. They’re they’re just looking for a price. They’re looking just to get a piece of paper that has a price and then never hear from you. Again, they’re looking to waste your time. You want to target people that want to work with you and want to value your time.

Kevin Moules 35:59
You know, yeah, and that landlord I knew exactly, yeah, it was a rental turnover. So I knew, if I go over there, it’s gonna be a punch list. I’m going to, he’s not gonna like my price after I go there. Right, right. Price of you know, 567 1000 $1,500 $2,000 You know, do all his projects. And he’s gonna be like, well, that’s too expensive. And I just blew an hour and a half walking around your house looking at this. Amen. That just, that’s what it is. And what I’ve learned, you know, there’s some people can some commercial clients don’t charge that consultation fee, because it’s a commercial client. They’re gonna pay they already work with them. Right? Now, I’m getting paid. You know? i There’s no qualms about that. But pretty much all residential. send me pictures. You want me to assemble furnitures? Send me the link. I’ll look up the instructions. Okay. I did one for this swing set. Like I said, the guy’s like God, no. Okay. Two days later, hey, can you put me on your calendar? Yeah, no problem, man. Right. So yeah, that

Jason Call 37:05
I like what you said, you said, you know, you kind of slightly mentioned, I’ve got like, 150 200 reviews. So it all we and we talked about this quite a bit on the podcast. But to charge a premium rate, like it’s all got to be cohesive, like your your online presence, great reviews, you, you know, you’ve got the logoed shirt, the hat like professional experience, like you need all these things work together to be able to charge a consultation fee to be able to charge a premium rate. And your ideal clients are attracted to that they want to work with a company that’s got 131 reviews on Google. That’s how many reviews Kevin has. Because it speaks to that ideal client. So he’s attracting that. So he’s going to win more of the bids at that premium rate. And I only mentioned this, because I see a lot of posts on the Facebook groups and whatnot, of like, oh, I can’t charge that, you know, there’s no way it’s like, well, maybe not now, but as you build up, you, right?

Kevin Moules 37:59
Yeah. And I would just test things, right. Like, if you’re doing a full time job, I can’t charge that, well, maybe the next call, you just throw out that higher number, like, add another $50 to the job you’ve already been doing for one price. All right, they turned it down the next call for that same job. And that $50 they buy, okay, maybe make that your new one, try to get another 50 Whatever it is, you know, you got to push your rate somehow. You know, again, it’s not by the hour, I do have some jobs that are flat rate. And so they don’t fit in my two hour minimum, I do have a two hour minimum now in my brain, right, they don’t the customer doesn’t know it’s for two hours, I kind of tried, Joseph Miller says half day and full day and I played with that a little bit. But I felt my like between my two hour and four hour would be a half day, like there’s a lot of jobs are in that three hour range. And the jump between three and a half day at three hours in that half day rate, just a quite a big jump and I was losing jobs and like man, I could have done that, you know, so I kind of backed off that a little bit. I still if I do like a fence job that’s going to take a full day I do my full day rate in my head. I have a two hour rate, but then I lose the jobs. Super simple jobs like changing a float valve in a toilet. You know, my comment, I’m losing that I can go do that in 15 minutes, you know, or a door handle 15 minutes, so I decided, You know what, 30 minutes and last $205 I know some guys are watching this like you’re on crack. I am I also live in California. So these aren’t cheap here. You know, again, I have commercial I have no liability insurance on business, all my commercial vehicles on commercial auto insurance because of my business. So that plays more expensive than your regular car you have in your driveway. Everything just really expensive here and so I I’d use that 205 quite often. Oh, you need a doorknob change to a five plus part like, oh, that’s expensive. Yeah, no problem. Okay. And then sometimes I get a call back from it. Okay, let’s do it. And so it’s a job will take me 15 minutes, but it’s not my two hour rate, because the jump is just that much bigger. So it just to keep things going. And then I worked for that client. And hopefully they’ll call me back for a bigger job later on.

Jason Call 40:28
Awesome. I know, one of the one of the topics that we hadn’t discussed in our podcast yet that I know has been talked about quite a bit in the group. I’ve talked about this clients and peers, Alan, you’ve mentioned it, but this lot this, this current calendar year is one of the slower years, as far as people seeing less, you know, like, willing to jump on quotes, especially larger ones. I’ve heard that especially from larger contractors, if you could just kind of talk about this year. And like you, because you mentioned to us before we you know, click the record button, it’s kind of been a slower year for you.

Allen Lee 41:01
Yeah, thoughts on that, too, but I’d love to hear your thoughts, Kevin.

Kevin Moules 41:05
Yeah. So like I was saying earlier, I’m hoping to break 200 on gross income this year. And that’s been starting. Really, for me, my brain was Halloween of last year, I already noticed slowing down, which is kind of normal. It’s winter. If your business setup, right, you don’t have a slow downtime. And so last couple of years COVID I think Alan can say unless the guys ungroup was awesome for our business. You know, I was super busy 2020 21 and 22 till summer kind of the end. And things started down and I was like, that’s interesting. But okay, it’s it’s October, November. But then I talked like some other tradespeople, like in town, like, no guy goes to my church. He owns a glass company that’s been in business for 40 plus years. And he’s like, I had to layoff people already, like, things are really slow. And I’m thinking, This guy’s been in business for 40 years, he hasn’t been the business name has and he’s been an owner, probably 20 years. I’m not going if he’s telling me that. And he’s, they’re one of the top in the area. I’m like, then it’s not just me. Right? And so that was January, and I was like, okay, it’ll kick back up. But it’s kicked up a little, because it’s springtime. But my schedule is definitely not but like how it’s been the last four years or three years since I’ve been four years since I’ve been full time with this business. It is way slow. I don’t even have next week booked out. You know, I don’t I’m not a person that does full, you know, what, books out a month or two. Mostly, I think because I’m doing smaller jobs. I’m not remodeling, you know, I know people wait six months a year to do a remodel on a kitchen because they want to work with that specific person. And even though people may want to work with me, if I was booked out a month, they’re probably not going to hold out a month for a faucet replacement. Okay, I’ll just hire Home Depot. That’s fine. Some people will. But again, we’re out here on the Left Coast of the United States, things are absurdly expensive. And interest rates are absurd. I also invest in real estate people are just holding on to their cash a little more, I think they’re only repairing stuff. Really, if they have to, like I’ve had landlords who have tenant turnovers, okay, they’re kind of, that’s a good time to do it. They’re not gonna wait right? They need another tenant in there, I just did a big job for a new customer. All new light fixtures in the house, new fans, new mirrors, towels, toilet paper and towel bars. And in the back, they kind of did a whole home remodel. And I did all that small stuff. They’re not going to wait for that, right? They need someone in there. So there’s i They found me online and call me which was fantastic. And I was grateful because that was a bigger job for me. But I in general, I think just people are just holding on other stuff holding up their cash. Again, I’m pretty frugal guy. Financial literacy is like a passion of mine. As far as you know, holding money saving it. At the end of the day, I’m not freaked out, I have enough in the bank to not work for a year, and my family be safe again. It’s having that cushion like I had when I started this business, I’m not gonna jump out and put the parachute on the way down. That’s not how I work. So I’m gonna have some paces in the bank in case slow times like this. I’m not freaking out. I’ll go spend some time with my kids. But that doesn’t stop me from you know, getting deemed online and responding to people. I always respond within typically 24 hours of getting a request. So I want Hey, thanks for calling me back. No problem. I think part of this business is a lot of people. I don’t answer the phone. I don’t answer my phone a lot either, especially when I’m in customer halls. But I make darn sure I return every single phone call within a day, even if I can’t do the job. I’m because I’m like, Hey, this is Kevin, you call me? I can’t do that. Oh, thanks for giving me a call back. That way. They’re not waiting on me like, That guy I call they never call back, you see that on two or three star reviews on people’s business pages all the time I call this guy he never called me back. You know, he didn’t call me back. I know, Alan ran into that when he’s starting this business. But yeah, I wanted to address one of my pet peeves. Like, you gotta call people back, if it’s a one 800 Number, and it’s, you know, third party maintenance for commercial. And I don’t really worry about them. It’s a homeowner, Hey, I can’t do that. Call this guy. You know, I have a whole Rolodex of trace people I can send out to my customers that I trust in my home. And they’re super appreciative of that.

Allen Lee 45:50
That’s awesome, man. What do you think, Alan, what’s

Jason Call 45:52
your take on? Because you felt that same thing in your businesses here? You know?

Allen Lee 45:56
Yeah, it’s definitely, definitely one of the slowest years here in 2023. I would say, when me and Kevin started, you know, we both started part time in 2016. And I think at that point, there was there wasn’t necessarily this, we could call an honest handyman or reliable handyman, or integrity handyman or whatever, whatever we’re trying to create here, where you have there was only like kind of what I call chucks and a truck around. So when we started up, we want to do think professional, we want to do things, right, it was fairly easy to get going, right? Because there wasn’t a whole lot of competition. And then that kind of rode us through to COVID. And then when COVID hit man, the housing industry just boomed like, and we got so busy. So I think everyone and their brother and even their mother started up a handyman business. They’re like, Hey, this is great, right? There’s so much work to go around. And there was it was really lucrative for many years. And then like you said, at the tail end of 2022, I think, you know, definitely the economy started catching up. All of the stimulus stuff, I think started pouring in. And we started seeing some of the effects of that. Now we have, you know, high inflation, high interest rates, all that stuff. And so now it’s kind of like, it’s gonna get to a point of survival of the fittest, really. So I think, I think so it’s, it’s a good time and a bad time to start out a handyman business, depending on what type of handyman business you want to start out on. If you want to create a chuck in a truck business, this is a bad time to start. If you want to create like an honest, respectable business is a great time to start because it’s the people that are like you, Kevin, that answer the phone, you know, do the work, they say they’re going to do give a reasonable quote, Those are people that are going to survive through this next season of kind of hardship, because I think all those other people that just started out in business that, like during COVID, that, you know, chuck in a trucks kind of rose. And I think all those people that don’t have the established branding, they don’t, you know, have a longtime reputation, they’re gonna end up dying out here pretty quick. Because work is hard to come by. You know, so I think that people like you are going to keep sticking around. And I think that’s kind of the recipe for this next season of the handyman business. You know,

Kevin Moules 48:05
I hope I stick around. I mean, that’s one of the things that separate like, I mentioned Craigslist for I get a lot of business on Craigslist. So one of the good things they actually did is they charge you five bucks every time you post I listing on on a service, so it doesn’t matter what service you have window washing handyman, whatever, they not charge five bucks. Fantastic. I was so gung ho for that. Why? Because trucks and trucks and like five bucks, right? They don’t want to compete. Yeah, they’re like, I don’t want to pay five bucks on my fantastic five bucks. That’s cheap advertising. That’s five bucks a day, you know, times 30 days. If I do it, I only do it. I do it. Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, Monday, right after the weekend, Wednesday, halfway the week, Friday, right before the weekend, people need stuff done. And the first thing I do in the morning, when I get up, it’s five bucks, 15 bucks a week. And I make you know, two hour, three hour you know, do $300 That cover that really quickly. So I know different guys in the handyman group do like Craiglist sucks in my area. Totally understand. You just got to try it. But yeah, the charging of five bucks definitely separated the guys who are like, I’m just doing this for fun and beer money versus someone who’s like me, and I’m posting three times a week and I have this is what I do. I have my pictures up before and after I list out the services. I don’t I don’t do anything about pricing. I don’t say I’m affordable. Those are some words I learned from Dan’s class back in the day. Like don’t say you’re affordable, because that’s a mindset people and then you hit them with like, whatever price like what? Holy. So I’m, you know, so I don’t use any of that wording, you know, great deals. I don’t use any of that wording and this is my business. This is what we provide. And I’m always one. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t wing it. That’s not how I work. I don’t know how to do it. I’m going to tell straight up, Mr. Mrs. Customer. I know I’ve worked for you for five years. I don’t know how to do that. But you know what? I have a guy. I have a guy. That’s yeah, I know someone. Okay. And I’ll give them a listen. I get this all the time. Man, that guy you sent over there great. They’ll get everyone. Every person you’ve sent to me has been great. Like why? Yeah, cuz I sure as heck wouldn’t want them in my house. And if I want to send them to you, I don’t want them. Yeah, no, no, I’m gonna work and send you people that work like me. And I, they might not be neat freaks like me. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves in this industry. Y’all, if you want to clean it up. I’m talking to you, you got to clean up at the end of the year job. dirty job ticks me off, man. Tell him dude, the retail preacher talking about getting my blood boiling man. That is? Yeah, so.

Allen Lee 50:56
So Kevin, what? What parting advice would you have for people that are listening to us either people that might just be looking at getting started in this, they might have had a business for a few years? What kind of parting advice would you have for these guys?

Kevin Moules 51:10
Man, if you’re interested in getting this business, and you’re working full time, I encourage you guys. I mean, I had a bucket of tools. What can I do with what I got, you know what, make a list of what you know how to do that you don’t have to go spend 1000s of dollars of new tools to do all my tools I bought when I started was all us everything was off Craigslist that I bought. And but I think my biggest encouragement is push your pricing. If you’re doing this part time and going to start off, you know, call around, I called around plumbing companies I call around and what do they charge an hour, you know, I called around just to get a feel what people are charging to come out. And then I kind of threw my number out there somewhere. And then I should have pushed a lot faster. So if you’re gonna do a part time, I encourage you to do it. It is it is be nice to people, you know, be nice. And so you’re like I said, you don’t have to answer the phone right away, especially if you’re working part time. You’re right. I’m not gonna answer my call while I’m working. But when I got off of work, made darn sure that I made you know, call those people back right away and told them Hey, this is when I can come out. This is what I can do. No, I can’t do that. So return phone calls, I think is even more important than picking up right away. I lose business because I don’t pick up right away. I understand that. But on my website, they can go there. They can find me on Yelp, they can find me on all kinds of different advertising platforms.

Allen Lee 52:41
Fantastic. Fantastic. And one thing I want to mention about Kevin Kevin is that YouTube star we recently made a video where we he basically gave us a tour of his U haul he converted a U haul into a handyman van. So for anyone watching here, you can go check that out at the handyman journey YouTube channel. It’s called handyman U haul truck build out. And he he’s got a fantastic setup. So I think that’s really cool. Kevin and I think that alone sets you apart from other people. You come ready with all the work and you’re ready to rock and roll. So that’s fantastic.

Kevin Moules 53:15
Great. Yeah. And I’m pretty much an open book if there’s a handyman. I mean, I’ve had handyman reach out to me from across the country guy from SoCal. I’ve talked to guys in the Midwest, I don’t know, probably through the Facebook group, you know, asking about pricing. I’ve talked their ear off for an hour. I’m like, This is what I’ve done. This is where I’ve advertised This is where I’ve spent money advertising these people suck. Don’t work with these people. Like I’ve already had that experience so why not pass it on? I’m pretty much an open book I have a spreadsheet like I said to figure out I work with I’ve given that spreadsheet on the handyman Facebook page, it’s on there. Anyone watching this on the Facebook page, there’s a you can reach out to me and I can shoot you that spreadsheet there’s been a handful of guys who have used that for their business to figure out again, what’s your family expenses, what’s your business expenses and what do you got to make every single day you want to work to cover that because if you don’t cover it, the thing is again about my financial literacy I love you gotta know where your money’s going gotta know you don’t keep track of it man. It’ll eat you up you’ll be in the hole and you don’t even know it you know, you keep seeing the money coming in. But you know you got a huge spigot, you know, leak somewhere and you find out real quick by using that spreadsheet how your money is behaving and where it’s going. So yeah, anyone wants to reach out to me there, feel free to do so.

Allen Lee 54:37
Definitely. Well Kevin, thank you so much for just all that you do and what you bring to the handyman journey it’s fantastic having you on the handyman success podcast I also wanted to give a special thanks to my co host Jason call. Absolutely fantastic if you guys need anything website SEO marketing related, Jason call is your guy you can get you can get in touch with him over at handyman marketing proz.com And also if you want to reach out to me, you can reach out to me at handyman journey.com. I’m a business coach here to help you guys grow your handyman business. But thank you guys so much for tuning in all of y’all listening to this, we would just be talking to ourselves if you are not here. So we thank you guys for joining in on this and we want to give you guys more content. So we have a monthly webinar that Jason and I do. You can get more information about that over at handyman success.net. Make sure you go check that out register for the next webinar. They’re usually near the end of the month and we would absolutely love to have you attend to those. So thank you guys so much. And we will catch you guys on the next handyman success podcast. Thanks for tuning in y’all