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Episode 6: Mike Benner & Always Dependable Handyman Services

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About this episode

Mike Benner, Owner of Always Dependable Handyman Services in Omaha, Nebraska, shares his journey from being a Zookeeper, to venturing out on his own as a handyman, and how he’s grown to have a team of 6.

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Audio Transcription

Hey friends welcome to episode six of the handyman success podcast. Super excited to have you here. My name is Alan Lee with my co host, Jason Call. And basically the mission of this podcast is to hear the story of handyman from all around the world and basically hear their story of success in the in the hopes to teach and inspire. So today we are interviewing Mike Benner here out of Omaha, Nebraska. So, Mike, maybe you want to introduce yourself. Tell us a little about you. Tell us about your business when you started up, and kind of how things are going.

Yeah, absolutely. I’m definitely honored to be here. This is super exciting opportunity for me. So very excited for that. I mean, yes, I don’t know exactly where you want to start. But my name is Mike Benner, I own and operate all of these dependable handyman services. We are out of Omaha, Nebraska. We’ve officially been in business since May 2018. Yeah, just going strong. So I don’t know if you want to kind of get into how I started or where you want to start off? Maybe? Yeah.

How about we start here? So where Where’s your business at? Like, right now as far as I know, you’ve got a team working for you. If you don’t mind sharing, like maybe like your annual revenue from like, maybe projected this year, if you know that or kind of something where that kind of puts a pin in right now. And then we can dig into, you know, may 2018. onward.

Okay, awesome. So right now, we are out. We are about 175,000. Kind of annual revenue for for the year right now. I’m gonna hit 250,000 goal for this year, which is huge. from last year. Last year was just me. So it was a lot lower. I mean, it was, honestly, last year was more like 80,000. So growing and excited. So yeah.

That’s awesome. That’s cool. What added? If you had to pinpoint one thing, what is made that growth possible?

From I mean, a couple things. Last year, part of the year, I was actually doing it part time. And then also, I brought on some technicians. That’s kind of the main thing is bringing on more employees.

So were you getting, were you getting too many leads that you have just turning people away? Because you’re a part time? And then you brought on technicians to the

right now. Okay. Sorry, if you cut out for a second there, but yeah, so I was I was doing it part time. And now, we officially have one part time technician who’s been with us over a year, we have two full time technicians morning, just hired on a customer relations manager. So that would bring us up to six people total in our company.

Wow. So you just hired a CSR this morning? Is that yes. Yep. That’s exciting, man. How did you find that person?

interviews and narrowed it down to one, uh, my wife was doing it before and she kind of stepping into the manager.

Okay, cool, man. That’s awesome. And you kind of broke up there. But so were you saying your wife is your CSR or you have a an outside CSR?

Yeah. So she’s switching out of the role. So as a warning, we hired on another one from another new one, so

gotcha. Gotcha. That’s awesome, man. That’s great. So you’ve been applying some of the stuff that we’ve been talking about? That’s pretty cool. Yeah, yes. Absolutely. What

is your if you don’t mind sharing? What are like the specific tasks that your customer service person does every day?

Yes. So before I was having my wife do it, she was the initial point of contact for for the business, you know, getting information, new customers doing scheduling for me and other technicians. I’ll get into that later, it really worked out have my wife in that role. So she’s stepping away from that role and focusing on other things, and then we’re bringing on new ones, I’m really excited to have her be able to be the first you know, the face of the business when new customers reach out for work requests, you know, be able to get information scheduled the jobs for the estimator and the technician. So super excited for that.

Yeah, that’s a lot of trust. You have to have in that role that’s like that first contact with always dependable handyman service, you know, you’re going to be a good experience.

Yeah, exactly. So yeah, I had a bunch of interviews and I really liked this person, so I’m excited to bring her on. Artificially offer the job this morning. She’s gonna be on Monday.

Man, that’s exciting. Is she local Or is she

a remote? So? Yes, she’s just local. She’s a stay at home mom with young kids. So to be able to work from home for a couple hours every day, so, okay, so that so I know I mentioned six people. So we have me I’m the PC owner operator also working in the estimator role and admission kind of fill in a couple roles there. And then we have three other technicians working. And then my wife does some the kind of thing type stuff. And then six person’s going to be our customer relations manager. So total six, six people in our little company.

Awesome, man, that’s a big,

you know, a lot of growth from last year was just me

that it’s insane girls from last year. That’s absolutely crazy. So, so take us back to may 2018. What, what were you doing before this? And what kind of got you into this?

Absolutely. I always love telling my story. So we’ll even go back a little farther than me that I will go back. Yeah, so we’ll go We’ll go high school. So I’m in high school. And you know, when I’m getting done in high school, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with my life. don’t realize becoming a professional skateboarder is not going to pan out that didn’t really have anything else in my mind. So of course, everyone says just go to college. So you don’t need to know what you’re going to do. Just go to college, you know, for first couple years, get some general and then decide. So a couple years in college, I decide. I’ve always loved plants and animals, Wildlife, stuff like that. So I decided to major in biology. Towards the end of my degree, I realized I really wanted to work for the National Park Service. I wanted to help preserve the last little bit of wildlife in our country. So I got done, it was 2014 graduated college, immediately got a job with the National Park Service, just a seasonal technician. And it was kind of my dream job. The only issue was it was seasonal. So I moved out, you know, eight hours away with a camper with me, just lived there for six months. And when that was coming to the end, I decided I wanted to move back to Omaha because I was engaged that time. So my fiance at the time was living back here. Oh, wow. I want to be back with her and the dogs. So I was just kinda I didn’t have internet in my little camper. So I’ve been playing for any job that my degree would work. And I got my pretty much my other dream job is I got a job as a zookeeper here in Omaha. So moved back to Omaha got a degree in or I got my my job as a zookeeper. Taking care of giraffes and rhinos. Absolutely.

Awesome. Yeah,

it was wonderful. You know, I met some of my best friends that still work there and everything. So kind of living the life, you know, just got married then, and had my dream job right out of college. The only issue is, it’s one of those jobs that everybody wants to do. So there’s people that intern on paid for years, and the field in general doesn’t pay the best. So I’m working there full time. And I always had kind of side jobs. You know, I was a dog walker for a while, I worked at the Air and Space Museum as educator for a while. And we were having our first kid, my wife and I. So when she had her first kid, she was actually working full and part time, she was a cosmetology instructor and doing hair on the side. So I’m working three jobs, she’s working two jobs, and we just had a kid. So it’s kind of like, Okay, this isn’t working and I start picking up more side work. So then she can only work full time and spend more time with the kids. So she, you know, she starts only working full time, and I start just doing random things on the side. I’m just like, anything I can do to help out around the house, you know, financially. So luckily, one of my sister’s a real estate agent. And at the time, her and her husband had a handful of rental properties that they were buying, fixing up and running out. They had one person doing some work and he did all right work at first, but towards the end, she wasn’t very dependable. So I remember Yeah, so awesome. We’ll get to the name in a little bit. So kind of one of my first handyman Jobs was for her. She bought a condo, and it needs a lot of work, you know, new kitchen cabinets, new flooring in the living room, just painting throughout and it was vacant. So every day when I got off work, I would, you know, work 730 to 430 at the zoo, I would just go straight over to this condo and do work. It was awesome. I could work super late, you know because, you know I was there probably one or two in the morning most days. And then the days I was off from the zoo. I was over there working. And at that point I realized, you know, I might be able to kind of make a little business because other people like some of her co workers like Hey, who’s running renovating your condo like who’s doing some work and the Koch brothers doing it? So officially in May 2018 is when I googled How do I become How do I make a handyman business so I just googled it and love it in Nebraska in Nebraska there’s not as much regulations and everything so I was able to register as a you know, a licensed contractor I was able to get my business insurance you know, register the business and do all that. So I was kind of like Alright, I’m gonna start a little business so I was kind of brainstorming like what what do I call myself in my Mike’s handyman and I you know, and I started to think well what do everybody need? What does everybody complain that they don’t have a dependable handyman so I just went with the name you know, always dependable handyman services. And it just kind of stuck from there. So yeah, that was kind of how it started. And it was great from our outs that I had, you know, great luck finding finding business because one of my first jobs that wasn’t my sister was one of her friend who was a real estate agent and she was read she was selling a house that the guy was military and he moved away so the house was vacant so it worked perfect with my my availability in the evenings and I just got to work started doing some flooring in that job switching out light fixtures, you know, some faucets and stuff like that and at that point, I made a Facebook page and I just started advertising on Facebook just right away and started bringing in some some business I learned a ton I was working in I was working out of a Honda Civic when I first started Wow. Every you know, the backseat and the trunk were just full of full of tools and yeah, that’s kind of the start right there. And I don’t know if you want to go through kind of the growth from there. Yeah, I

think that’s a good transition that will tie in the grocery Yeah. So what is that you mentioned you create a Facebook page you advertise on Facebook? Obviously there’s like connections and you’re you have family there so I know that’s a huge part a good strategy like when you first start is like just tell your friends and your family like hey, I’m offering handyman services. Having a sister that’s a realtor I’m sure has its benefits for that too but if you don’t mind kind of fleshing out you know what was your handyman marketing strategy when you when you first started and if you could also explain like if there’s anything that’s been added or morphed you know as you’ve grown now to you know a larger team just more than yourself

Yeah, so I remember at my first job I got that wasn’t like that was just random you know through Facebook It was pretty quick after I made my Facebook page I think I made a post something on the buy sell trade page but it was a single mom that needed a bunch of gates installed TV hung and all this stuff so I was thrilled that because you know first customer that was you know, through my quote unquote marketing on Facebook so I did some work for her and she actually became a great referral so she started there’s this group that was called it was a Facebook group I think it was called West Omaha moms and the know that she made a little post about me and then I had so many people reaching out saying hey, somebody posted your business on West Omaha mom’s in the know and I got funds of working professionals that are just so busy that they don’t, they either don’t know how or don’t want to hang their curtain rods on their days off and that kind of that kind of stuff. So I was kind of marketing in two different areas. I was doing kind of the busy working professionals that needed their TV home or maybe a nursery painted and then also a lot of work for the real estate agents as well there’s referral so that’s kind of initial marketing.

That’s awesome. Okay, for Facebook to just to flesh that out a little bit for anyone because it’s a huge question that we get all the time it’s like what the heck do I do to like get initial traction in your business and so you so you joined like local buy sell groups and would you just make posts right from your your personal page in there or from your business? If you don’t mind kind of explain a little bit more into Facebook’s I know a lot of guys have questions of how to effectively use it.

Yeah, I didn’t do too much at first. But yeah, it was essentially from my personal page you just kind of you share your business page and say hey, I’m offering handyman services. So that was kind of I didn’t do any of the paid advertising on Facebook it was just kind of through those and then as soon as we got a couple customers it was just word of mouth. You know reaching back out to those customers in element please tell all your friends about me so

yeah, so get in with the moms that seems to be a big takeaway. The moms in the no mama Oh yeah. I’m sure they’re in the know, it was not the out of the know, right?

It was huge. Yeah, cuz it was funny, because I didn’t it was another customer that said, Hey, I found you on West Omaha moms, I know somebody made a post about you. I remember running home and tell my wife like, Hey, you know about this Facebook group, West Omaha moms to know, like, yeah, I’m in that group. So we looked at all the posts on there. I’m like, Oh, that’s awesome. I’ve got a lot of people from that Facebook group. So that’s cool.

That’s cool. I’m always curious about the pricing. When you first started out and say you did that first job of that gal, the mom in the know that needed the baby gates, what did you how did you price that job? How did you know what to charge for that job?

No idea. So kind of taken it back. When I first started the business. I also not only that, Google how to become a handyman, I YouTube, how to how to start a handyman business. And guess who I found that had maybe 1000 subscribers at the time on YouTube? I honestly, honestly, handyman services. So I mean, I think you were brand like pretty new at that time. And I watched went back, watch all your older videos. And you gave me a lot of helpful advice. But I’m not ashamed to admit I did not charge near enough when I first started. I don’t think my mind is like, Oh, this is a side job. If I make you know, I’m not making much hourly. And I just thought of the same thing like, oh, if I just make a little more hourly than one making them a full time job. That’s awesome. Right? You’ll learn soon that there’s a lot of overhead with the taxes and insurances. And

so would you. Would you be so bold to tell us exactly what you charge? If you remember for those baby gates?

Oh, I don’t even remember. I mean, I was probably over there for a few hours, or maybe, you know, $100 or something? I don’t know.

Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, the only reason asking because we’ve all done it, you know, and I think I think it’s important for people to know when they’re first starting out that you don’t have to have all the answers. You know, you don’t have to know everything you don’t have to know exactly, you know, and make sure you’re going to be making an amazing profit margin. Obviously, that’s something that you want to work on. And that’s something you need, but we’ve all made mistakes. I mean, I remember I was at someone’s house for like, three hours, I made like, 50 bucks, you know, like, it’s, it’s pretty insane. But we’ve all done it, you know?

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And you’ve got to be aware, too. Oh, yeah. As you we’ve all done that. Definitely. Yeah, as you grow and like you realize, you know, what you charge for the the rate for your baby gates, it’s like, wait, I can’t do this, or else, I may as well be flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Like to be aware of that, though, and to make those pivots and increase your pricing and look at your numbers and your insurance, your overhead and take all that into account? It seems it’s it’s like a process, you know, like, you got to start with, you know, throwing out 100 bucks for a bunch of baby gates. And then it evolves into a science as you grow where I’m sure now there’s a lot more that goes into your quotes, then, you know, the the first mom and the No, which we will use every chance to get good, no,

it’s a great thing. When I first started, I remember I just kind of threw a number out, I picked a number out of thin air because I was making whatever I was making 20 bucks an hour at my job or whatever. And I’m like, Well, you know, if I charge 50 bucks an hour, then that’s gonna be alright, right? Because that’s a heck of a lot more than what I was making. And you do the job. And then you reevaluate the job. And you look at that job, like you said, it’s, it’s a living process of like, you look at that job, like, well, that job really took me three hours, and I charged blah, blah, blah, you know, could I do that quicker, or, you know, do I need to charge more money for it. So it’s a, it’s an ever evolving process. And that’s why I say pricing is really something that you got to figure out for yourself. You’re the only one that can really determine what your pricing needs to be. And it might vary wildly on you know, job to job, you know, so that’s some info on the know, in the know there.

On that note, Mike, if you don’t mind kind of like going from the baby gate story to like, we like to call your pricing journey. So like, how, how, how, if you could kind of walk us through your pricing journey from your first job to now you know, how are you pricing estimating jobs currently?

Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, like Alan, just pulling a number out of thin air when I first started so and I would think you’d be like, Huh, what do you think that’s worth, you know, like, how much what? A hate for somebody to hang a TV? Oh, I would, I would pay some point. $5 then I would charge somebody point $5 and I’m like, hey, wait, I should have charged so much more. So yeah, first for a long time, you know, not charging enough and that was one of the things I really struggled with is not charging enough, I doubt that. But now we’ve we’ve looked at the numbers, we know what we need to make, you know, our hourly need. So now we’re billing closer at minimum $75 an hour, but closer to $100 an hour for for the work now, which is a big difference when I was just pulling a number out of the hat thinking what is that worth? You know?

Yeah, that’s huge.

And is that per man hour, or you just have one technician on the job at one time? Yeah, so it does

change a little bit, when we have multiple technicians on the job, you know, I Deeley it’s per person, per man hour on the job. But there are certain types of jobs where we won’t get as much, you know, maybe, maybe we’ll do 130 for two people working depending on the type of work. But we’re kind of branching out at this point where we’re doing the handyman work, and we’re also doing some larger remodel work. So still figuring out all the pricing on that type of work as well. So kind of two sides of the business, and you have to price them a little different.

So So Mike, do you think you can explain, for our viewers out there, how you determine your hourly need, you know, what does that look like for you? What did that look like? Yeah,

so I took a class from Alan Lee here. So I go, I sat down, and I crunched everything from the business, and also my personal expenses. So everything I needed, and I found out how much I need. And this is when I was just, it was just me, I found out how much money I need to bring in to run the business and to run the household to have what I need. And then, you know, you just figure out your hourly need, we’re a little tricky is when I start bringing on employees, because the overhead goes up. And you know, how much you charge for them. So I tried to charge the same rate as if they’re doing the work as if I was doing the work. So yeah,

huge. Love it, man. Thanks for that explanation. That’s huge.

Yeah. And looking at your personal.

Yeah, I mean, I’m still still struggling with pricing. Everyone does.

It’s a constant thing, dude. Like I was just talking to Jason like we are, we’re still in the in the realm of trying to figure out our sweet spot. I get it’s something that you know, even the experts, they’re still changing it. It’s something that you need to constantly change as your business grows, as the economy grows, as inflation happens, like, there’s constantly things that happen every single day, that’s going to change what we priced for jobs, you know, yeah,

absolutely. Yeah. So we’re always adjusting the numbers, trying to see what works best for our business.

Awesome, I want to point out to something I love that you shared there was, you looked at your personal need, like your personal family expenses. And I think that’s so important. A lot of I know a lot of businesses, they look at their business expenses. And it’s, I think it’s especially important for someone just starting out, if you’re by yourself, like, what do you need to bring in for yourself or your family. So you know, if you’re thinking about starting a business, you need to know what you need to bring in, right. But a lot of people It seems basic, right, but people don’t look at their, I like to look at personal income is like that’s your personal revenue, and you’ve got expenses, and you’ve got net from your personal household. And it’s very, it’s just directly tied to your business, but when you’re doing it full time, so I guess I just want to commend you for for that, and sharing that and encourage people to, you know, not only look at your pricing, and your business and your overhead, but look at your household expenses, and you’re gonna be able to trim some stuff there, I’m sure and to ultimately improve, I think, ultimately, that will improve your business. So. So I think that’s a great point to bring up. They’re

very true. And I think I think that’s fantastic, because there’s so many businesses out there that don’t know their numbers. And that’s really where it needs to start, you know, that could to go back where we both started right? When I started in 2016, and you started in 2018, we just pull a number out of thin air, and we charge that, right? That’s what some people are doing, like even 510 years into their business and they’re doing it because it’s working, right. But at the end of the day, there’s a difference between being busy and being profitable. And you need to make sure at the end of the day, you’re being profitable. And the only way that to figure that out is to actually crunch your numbers. You know, that’s something that we’ve pushed pretty hard, you know, on this podcast is something you got to you got to sit down and I always recommend print out the last three months of bank statements both for years, your personal stuff, and your business stuff. It’s really going to help you out and on the personal aspect anyways, and just highlight all the stuff you’re probably going to find out that you went to McDonald’s like 100 times and you could probably cut back on a few MC doubles. You know what I mean? And that’s gonna save you a couple $100 you know, throughout the throughout the month or what? Who knows, right? It’s very important to know your numbers. Very important.

Yeah. Yeah, and honestly, I didn’t know them for the first you know, two years when I was doing it part time because it was just side money. You know, it was just it was this work on the side. So I didn’t really sit down and kind of crunch the numbers until when I actually left the zoo. We didn’t talk about that yet, but may 2020. And when the pandemic was hitting, had a mid, like, probably third life crisis, and I’m still young. So third life crisis. Where I started to think is this do I want to be a zookeeper forever, you know, I love the job, I love the animals and everything I was doing. But I didn’t like that I was working pretty much full time as a handyman in the evenings and my days off and working full time at the zoo. And they, they, they were having to let some people go in certain departments because you know, they had to close you know, there was a things were shutting down. So I started reevaluating. And I realized, sure, I can make a little more money to provide for my family if I moved up the ladder, but then I’m not working with animals, which is what I wanted to do. So yeah, I left the zoo in May 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, and I didn’t know my numbers then. So I just kind of jumped in. My wife had just been laid off because she was a cosmetologist, and she was a new salon at the time. And they they went out of business. So I just jumped in full, full force by myself in May 2020. And that’s when I really kind of had to crunch the numbers. And thankfully, everybody here in Omaha went in their backyard for the first time during the pandemic and realize their fence was falling over their deck needed stain, they needed a place that built in the backyard for the kids. But I just started doing a ton of outside work last summer. And that’s really when I kind of figured out what I need to charge to make it worth because at that point, my wife was unemployed, I just went full time in that in the business. I didn’t have any employees at the time. So that’s kind of when I figured out what I have to charge and what I needed to make per month to provide for the business and the household. So for the first two years, I was pulling numbers at a at a thinner

that’s a bold move, man. That’s courageous. So awesome job. And that’s a tricky every person we talked to, whenever you make that jump to full time in your business, like it’s a it’s a bold, courageous move, right? And it’s and it can be scary. So, I mean, your wife was just laid off and then you like on purpose left your job to focus on the handyman. Yeah, so that’s, that’s so awesome. And just shows like, Yeah, you’ve done it and just went for it. If you don’t mind like were in May 2020 you’re like, maybe I’m about to leave this job I’m doing handyman business full time. What were what were your pricing your numbers like then were you comfortable in leap? Or was it kind of like invest like knowing that you’re gonna improve it?

It was knowing I was gonna improve it, there was a lot of, you know, kind of just jump in, build the parachute on the way down, just figure it out as I go. I think at the time I you know, I, I’ve been investing buying a lot of tools and stuff, but I was still working out of No, I did have my little nicer truck at that point. But at first I was working out of like, bright yellow, ugly band that I was embarrassed to pull up at client’s house because it’s not what I wanted to represent. But it’s all I could afford. And I got rid of the Honda Civic. But I had this horrible van, where if you stepped on the wrong spot in the back, you would fall through because it was rusty. So there was a lot of you know, I upgraded to a nice pickup truck and a trailer, which was a huge upgrade and healthier, kind of the efficiency of the business. But that summer, I got to give one of one of my friends a huge shout out to see kind of helped me grow. That summer right after I left the zoo, I was just kind of, I wanted to grow the business. But I didn’t know anything about bringing on employees. I don’t know if it’d be worth it or anything. So one of my interns at the zoo, he was supposed to go to Africa for the summer to study elephants. And that didn’t happen because COVID so he actually told me he’s like, Hey, I really want to learn how to build things. I’ll come I’ll come work for you a couple days a week for free if you just teach me and I’m like, yeah, so he was just a couple days a week, you know, and I realized at that point, like having another person being able to help on the jobs made it so much more efficient, were able to get so much more done as soon as he was done and went back to college. At the end when I made a post for my first employees. So I brought my first employee in August 2020 just a couple months after leaving after jumping in full time, so

that’s awesome. What was that employee? Like what role and also how did you how did you find this? How do you what was the hiring process like?

Yeah, so I posted on indeed which was awesome. I had a bunch of sponsors right away. And I had two people, I didn’t want to hire somebody full time, because I was still trying to figure out how to provide for myself full time, I didn’t want somebody else’s livelihood in my hands at that point in my business. So I posted on D looking for some part time people or a part time person, and ended up find two that I really liked. So I ended up hiring them both part time for like two days a week, you know, maybe 10 to 16 hours total per person. One of them is still with us now. He’s been with us over a year, and he’s a firefighter full time. So he works 24 hour shifts, you know, a couple days a week, and then has a lot of time available. So he works kinda nine to three while the kids are in school. So he’s still with us for a year, he’s awesome. That was kind of my first employee. And luckily, it went really well. It didn’t scare me away, I hear horror stories, you know, people with their first employee, but now he’s been amazing, huge help, you know, growing the business. And then one of the guy that hired back in August 2020, he left to go to another job, you know, full time couldn’t compete with the benefits and I was happy to give him a good reference, you know. So at that point I brought on actually I was planning on maybe bringing on one full time person and ended up with bringing on two full time people this year, so I hired them in May 2021. So I’ve only had a full time not even a full year with them yet so

Okay, so after one year full time, you had to you had a full time person and two part time people, like an all in technician like roles.

Yep, yep, exactly. To me. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s been amazing.

And paying paying your your, your family salary, if you will. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Take care of yourself. And your family. Exactly. So sweet.

Man, that’s great. So what would you say have been the biggest wins that you’ve experienced? to get you to where you are, like both in business and personal.

I would say the biggest win would be able to you know, now my wife is at home with her two kids is being able to provide for the family that she’s able to stay home. I would say that absolutely the biggest win I’ve had. As far as the business just I would say the biggest win is just having the right technicians. there helping grow the business. So you know, they’ve been huge help couldn’t do it without them. So the biggest win as far as business goes, so yeah,

man, that’s huge. And then so adversity, like what would you say the biggest struggles that you faced have been?

So I mean, I’m still struggling with it. Like, you know, as we’re growing, I’m still in the technician role a lot, because I really like building things and I like doing the type of work is really just the kind of the estimating and the customer you know, the customer relation personnel, as I call the position, we had my wife doing it, she was awesome at it, you know, doing all the she she set us up with Mark eight, which is a CRM on our phones schedule. We found out we don’t actually work that well, in that role together. There was a lot of just kind of arguing itself. You know, some spouses can work together like that. He found them really working. Yeah, yeah. It, you know, in the evening, they were arguing about why you didn’t respond to this person and stuff. Not very good for for us, right. So she stepped away from that role. And I’ve been doing it also lately. That’s why I bring it on, you know, an actual outside customer alert relation manager is going to be huge. So I would say the biggest thing we’ve kind of struggled with.

So like organized General, like organization of inbound inbound requests.

Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, we’re working on streamlining it. But you know, at first, like a lot of people set up a Google Voice number said, people calling and texting Google Voice number. They were so calling texting my personal number, people calling or messaging on the website on the Facebook, Google page. So just this all over the place with request, which is a great problem to have, you know, amazing problem to have is so many people reaching out, getting all that organized is kind of something we’ve struggled with the most.

Yep, yep, I can definitely understand that. And I love that you brought up the Google Voice number. Since you brought it up. I’d love to talk about it. It’s a very important thing to do. Maybe you want to talk about kind of what Google Voice number has done for you. Like, what do you like about Google Voice?

Oh, I love it. It’s awesome. It’s a dedicated number that people can call and they can send text messages like voicemails. When the wife was in more of that role. It would go to her phone and my phone. So essentially, she would get a text with some information, she would be able to respond, but she couldn’t. She could just tell me Hey, look in Google Voice but I also had on my phone and respond to that client as well. So it’s it was a game changer for the business, kind of having that dedicated number. That wasn’t my personal number. So

yep, I love it. I love it and it’s free. You know, I don’t know how Google does it, I assume that they’re gonna start charging for it eventually,

but I’ll do one thing we’re not sponsored by Google, but I recommend Google Voice

if Google is watching this, you could sponsor us we would we wouldn’t stop you.

Yes.

Yeah. When I first when I first looked into it, they didn’t have my area code. They only had like, the Iowa one though. Like I didn’t get it at first. They didn’t have a 402 which is the Omaha area code and I was when I finally got you know, so thrilled to have it. Yep. 402

Yeah, so anyone out there that’s like I’m going to set this up right now. You’re going to be walkthrough prompts select personal because that’ll set set up the free number for you. Whenever you go the business route you’re getting into their Google workspace which ties in Phone Email and it’s it there is a charge for that so I know a lot of guys I talked to like oh I clicked through and they wanted to you know $10 a month and it’s because they went through the business so just select that personal if you just need one business number just get set up Get going go through that personal route and it is free look at that

I’m learning some I didn’t even know that

I didn’t know they had a pain. Okay, someone just rather one of our clients just brought this up this week. Oh, okay. And I kind of traced back through you know, his his steps like oh, well, it’s because you went with the business click Select personal. So that’s a side note there. If anyone’s like on the ball that listen to this, like on the go and setting it up right now select personnel.

They put this in the you know, moms in the know, Facebook page. Yeah, we need to get handy man’s in the No. Facebook page. That’s our next Facebook page. This is awesome. So that’s what I love about this, this handyman success podcast like even though we’re the hosts like we’re learning, you know, I mean, this is awesome stuff. But I do. Man, I got one question that I want to kind of go back to Mike. And this is kind of a brainstorming question. I know some people probably have you mentioned that you are you have a handyman business and then you’ve been doing a lot of remodel stuff. Do you personally want to start up a new brand or a new business for the remodel side of things? Or do you want to just lump it all in the handyman? What do you think’s better?

So that is a great question that I don’t have the answer to yet. You know, next year if we talk about this again, hopefully I’ll have the answer. But it’s a it’s a tough decision because I have the brand of always dependable handyman services. But we’re also offering some stuff that’s not quote unquote handyman services. So kind of where we’re at right now is I’m still doing a lot of kind of a small jobs throughout the day, I’ll go run and do a little job. But our technician who’s a firefighter full time I pretty much have him set up on more quote unquote handyman projects. And then one of my other technicians who is full time, he has like 15 years of experience in remodels. So he’s pretty much set up on kind of doing more tile work more projects where he’s there for multiple days, maybe multiple weeks and then our newest technician who has not as much experience kind of bounces back and forth so he might be doing more quote unquote handyman jobs you know, hanging blinds one day and then he might be helping out with the tile job or they remodel but that’s that’s new for our business. We probably did our first full house like flooring job which was pretty big for us it took a couple weeks you know to do all new flooring I think in March and then since then we’ve done you know, some bigger jobs we’re doing a lot of tile work lately. We just finished up a job for an interior designer where it was tiling all the bathrooms replacing all the light fixtures and more of a remodel type work where we’re there every day for you know for a couple weeks so I don’t know the best answer if I still keep it all together or if I maybe branch out and have to kind of separate businesses hopefully I’ll have that answer for too long.

Well what would you say? Yeah, what would you say?

I have a lot of experience in these and I’ve had this conversation quite a bit currently.

We just lost the mics I think

what oh, I think it’s just you man oh shit so so yeah. So yeah, overall okay so one thing I want to say whenever you do handyman and you also have the capability to do remodeling, it is awesome because anyone that needs their ceiling fan replaced at some point they’re going to need their bathroom remodeled. And and homeowners they want they want one company, one always dependable company that they can call. And so I recommend keeping it all under one hood. And not only is it going to be simpler from a business management perspective, all under one hood. But marketing wise you have the same marketing assets so it’s going to be easier to manage and also you know you’re not cannibalizing website traffic these between say always dependable handyman always dependable remodeling there’s ways to structure that where it can be under one hood so you know the easiest solution like business name wise is always dependable handyman and remodeling you know instantly bucketing those you know a slower start since it’s kind of new to you I would say to just get it up on your you know, in your advertising on your website, wherever people can kind of see what you guys do and you know, add that into your repertoire putting on your flyers start like raising awareness and upselling or letting your current handyman clients know that you guys do this and then as that gets busier navigate the more you know the more complex bigger changes that you could make in you know business name you know marketing is a whole different set of keywords that are involved with remodeling tiling all that good stuff but I would say it’s definitely best under one hood because you’re not cannibalizing your any marketing assets it’s all the same same Facebook same website all your SEO values and Google My Business So anyway, but that’s that’s my recommendation. One example is look at general contractors that do decks fences, remodels, new construction you know, it’s under one brand that they run that through Yeah, and one example Chris Olson came on the podcast he’s episode three I think it’s three episode three and yeah, he’s a general contractor and we actually work with him and so you know, pretty I’ve seen it with you know, fences decks handyman services all marketed together and you can do it all under one hood it’s just the way you communicate it

so now what well yeah so go ahead Mike.

Yeah, here in Nebraska I mean we are I am registered as a general contractor so it was more of a mental thing at first where I wasn’t confident doing the bigger jobs you know, especially when I was doing it part time and maybe just had a or when I was doing full time maybe just had a part time technician but now as we grow we have the capability to do more of that so i think you’re right some of our best kind of small remodel type jobs we’ve been doing are ones that maybe two years ago I replaced the ceiling fan for them and they saw on Facebook that you know they we might have posted something like a title project on Facebook they’re like oh, three years ago he said he didn’t do that but now you guys are offering that or like that and you know we’ve had a lot of clients like that as well so

yeah and that’s why those you know those general contractor services are great additions to a handyman business specially as you’re you know, figuring out how to scale How do you add more employees and be able to support someone full time whenever you get those bigger jobs they’re you know, like a one week remodeling job you’ll need 52 of those in a year to keep a guy busy so and same with fences deck so it’s it’s also a good Avenue not only just because your ideal clients that are already part of your handyman business they’re going to want that but business wise it it’s nice because those projects are longer and so you can keep guys on them you know you know you know my technician Dave he’s going to be on this bathroom or he’s going to be on this remodel project for the next two weeks and so his time is accounted for you know, we’ve got that dialed in so it’s definitely a good thing to consider if you are you have the licensing and can you know actually do the work of course

so then I think this begs the question

what catch 22 is Yeah, the catch 22 is though you start doing the bigger jobs and you’re booked out for you know, multiple weeks it’s harder to squeeze in those little things so I think that’s why having my technician who is available you know, I don’t usually put him on there quote remodeling jobs, and I’m just leaving him open so he might have availability in a week or two weeks when I might not be available for a couple months. So it’s it’s great having the different individuals with different availability and everything so

yeah, yeah, and especially to because people are more willing to wait for a larger job like someone’s gonna wait, you know, six months for the best remodeler in town to do their bathroom or the best deck contractor do their deck but someone’s likely not going to most people are not going to wait more than a month for home repair. It’s always tricky. 100% so you know Chris Olson is a guest a quick plug here for the handyman success mastermind Facebook group. That’s a group that all of us are in. If Mike’s not in there, we’re gonna get him in there. All our previous podcast, guests are there and you can pick their brain ask them questions. It’s all about business and marketing. But Chris Olson is in that group and he has first hand experience right now. Doing all these different avenues while still having the handyman side too so anyway there’s probably good knowledge in there for anyone listening that kind of wants some more if we don’t dig into it coming up here

so I got one question for you Jason. This has been kind of a wild topic you know, debate as you could say maybe on the moms in the no Facebook group or the handyman in the no sorry um, is should you when you’re starting a business from an SEO standpoint marketing standpoint, because I know that Chris Olson is specific home maintenance right should you call yourself a handyman or should you call yourself something home maintenance what’s better?

What’s better in the eyes of Google’s having handyman that’s that’s you know open up a Google My Business Page you select your category you basically tell Google hey what Google’s asking you what are you it there’s no home maintenance company I am home maintenance Yeah, there is no home improvement there’s no Home Repair Company there’s handyman so that’s from you know being in my my court I would say use handyman that settles it right there Yeah,

I mean when people search on Google right though like handyman in Omaha Nebraska they’re not going to search well they might home maintenance in yeah oh

mohana by Google so smart to it’s it’s it’s they know they can connect it to AI is growing at a an alarming very scary rate and even in marketing I mean Google so they know but nonetheless right now number one number one factor in ranking is the keyword in your business name unfortunately there’s lots of other factors lots of other factors you can do to overcome that like pacifical maintenance has but you know little I know we got off on a tangent here but if anyone has not started their business yet I do recommend using handyman because that’s what the highest volume keyword that’s what Google identifies your business as. Yep. And I’m sure that Mike has seen the benefits of that in his own Google My Business and having handyman in his name. It does it does help especially in the short term.

Yeah, and at first I think handyman is the absolute best thing you can call yourself because people just Oh, hey, man, I’m gonna ask they could do this. So I had people reaching out for things that maybe I didn’t even know I could do. And I was like, Yeah, I could figure that out. You know, just because they assume a handyman can do everything. And I was able to really learn myself you know, kind of learn how to do the work on my own by having handyman people that asked, I was confident to do the work and I was not afraid to say hey, I can’t do that project. But if I was just calling myself you know, maintenance, maybe people would only call me for maintenance. But when I was calling myself a handyman, who were calling me for hundreds of different things, you know, anything around the house? Yes, the most random things at first, which was awesome to help grow the business, I think we call yourself home maintenance, you’re only going to get maintenance jobs, you know, you might not get those really weird ones, which I’ve had in the past so

that’s a good point. And I think handyman means something different all around the world. Like it’s primarily based on well laws has a big thing to do about like here in California, you know, Cal a handyman are pretty limited to the amount of work, things like that, and same with other, you know, parts of the country. So that because there’s some handyman, you know, elsewhere in different states that can do full remodels and things like that, but here in California, you would need to be a licensed contractor for that. So it means different things to different places. So make sure you do your research and, you know, get plugged in and, you know, look that up. I think that’s important. So, Mike, what are your What are your upcoming goals? I mean, last year, you had an annual revenue of about 80k. You said this year, you’re at 175, you’re looking at hidden 250, which is astronomical. Where would you want to be in a year from today or two years from today? Where do you want to be?

So as far as revenue, I want to be as high as possible, you know, but it’s more of a lifestyle goal, I want to be at a point where I’m not working with the tools every single day so that the technicians are bringing enough revenue that I can work on the business and not in the business. And then I would like to grow it to a point where I can take vacations and things can run on their own. It’s been a great year, it’s a couple of really awesome vacations, but they’re still you know, checking all the you know, doing a lot of work from from my phone as well. So it’s more of a lifestyle goal. So whatever revenue I needed to get to, for that, to have the business run on its own, at some point and definitely but for the you know, five years, I want to be working on the business but then also be able to step away time to time and still run on its own.

So what do you have you planned anything or have any ideas on like how you’re going to, I guess, in a sense, like from right now, how do I work less hours and have less stress? Like is there anything that Yeah, I’ve had planned and are working on too. achieve that kind of lifestyle balance with a business that can be very very demanding

yeah I mean it really comes down to having the technicians trained in with the right systems that I feel comfortable you know sending them out completely by themselves and they do amazing work and everything but I also I feel like sometimes I have to be there doing things so just putting faith in them and you know being able to work a little more on the business because right now my ideal thing is I’m working three days with with quote with tools one day driving around doing estimates and one day just catching up on jobs not necessarily scheduling something so I would like to get that I still will always want to build certain things but maybe I’m you know building from my garage, some cabinets and the guys are installing them on site. That’s another kind of goal I have because I really like doing the woodworking Okay, so I think I’ll always still be doing some stuff but you know do what I really want to do.

I’m glad you touched on estimating we got like five or 10 minutes here right? If you don’t how do you estimate you mentioned you have one day set aside every week that you do all your estimates and also kind of piggybacking that is do you provide estimates via like text or do you go to the in person every time or is there a balance there?

There’s definitely a balance um, yeah, first every single client I wanted that face to face time kind of build that rapport even if it was like a little ceiling fan job I’d go out and look at that ceiling fan and realize that’s not necessary you know, so now it’s a lot of it is sending photos and if I can give the quotes virtually you know, either through the messages or just email over an estimate through arcade we’ll do as many of those as possible but there’s still tons of jobs where I want to go out on a measure I want to see exactly what they have in mind and that’s more for kind of the remodel type things like this week I’m working on completely updating a pantry so tore out all the shelves built some countertops a bunch of custom shelves but you have to go see that you have to go measure you have to go knock on the walls make sure you know you can do what what the customer wants so there’s a balance between that I like to if I if I know I went out and looked at that job in person I kind of keep that in mind when I’m doing the estimate like okay I’ve already spent you know 30 minutes driving there so I kind of take that into account they’re free estimates but when you really think about it like okay I’ve already spent time going through that house I might add on a little bit because because of that so if that makes sense.

Yeah and you said do you so for in person estimates Do you schedule those all one day a week or are you kind of willy nilly?

Yeah, it was willy nilly and now it’s it’s one day a week used it used to be whenever worked for the customer I will make that work and now it okay this is the day I have free you know I have Wednesdays open what works best on Wednesday and they you

know and did you have any kickback whenever you’d made that kind of firm switch to a I’m sorry, I do my estimates on Wednesday. Did you notice any kind of downside to that?

Not as much as I thought you know, I thought it’d be a huge thing I thought I’d be like well I’m not you can’t come on my terms but yeah, everyone’s been really good about it so

I was hoping you’d say that because that’s what I was hoping that was the answer because it’s it’s so it’s one of those things where you know, as a business owner you think like oh, I’ve got to be so flexible and meet them exactly where they’re at their best time but you know, you’ve got to guard your schedule and organize your business and to me it’s one of those things that it’s not that big of a deal if someone if they’re going to be a good customer and it’s Thursday well you know they can they can get it on the next Wednesday or maybe even the next Wednesday so it’s not that he didn’t notice that big of a deal. Yeah, good

I think that’s one thing that I learned throughout the years is that like the majority of time you know most handyman or most contractors or whatever they they go after anyone anything that has a pulse right like if someone calls like oh, you know, he’s like you got a pulse and house like you got money I’m gonna go give you an estimate right now like I got to drop everything. But at the end of the day, like when someone calls you for work, it’s it’s as much as they are wanting to see if you can work for them. You should be wanting to see if they are going to work with you. You know, like it’s kind of like an a two way interview you know, you got to make sure that they are the right customer that you want to work with. You know, so I think establishing that first boundary of like, Okay, my estimate day is Wednesday, rather than Okay, I’m coming over right now. Like it establishes some form of respect, you know, that I think is important to establish in that relationship being like, Hey, I am a handyman but that doesn’t mean I’m going to come over to your house at 10 o’clock at night for an estimate you know what I mean? I have I have a family so I think Yeah, a respect is huge.

Yeah, I think I see that a lot and I think it’s an unnatural thing for business owners and and for my experience, especially handyman like are like, you just want to help people and so I think especially new in business, you’re just gut is like I need to go do that estimate like at seven people. After dinner, because I need to, I need to help this person, but you know, you need to help yourself, too, or else you’re not going to help other people. So I think it comes from this internal thing that most business owners have especially handyman to really just be there and help, especially early on when you’re just trying to figure stuff out. And you think that if I don’t go to that estimate tomorrow, then they’re never gonna call me back. And it’s just not the reality.

Yep. Yep, for sure. Mike, would you have any last advice or tips for handyman out there listening to us?

I mean, I guess my advice is, I think the route I went was an amazing way to do it, where I was working full time and part time because I was able to build up such a great clientele. over those two years working full time and part time I had so many great customers that I was able to build up. So as soon as I went full time, I remember I made a post on my Facebook page, which you know, I had quite a bit of followers on the page, I just said, Hey, I’m going full time. I had people just reaching out like, they were just so excited. I had availability that it was almost like they’re finding projects that they wanted done like Oh, he, you know, I want to help him out because he’s making this big step. So I think starting part time is a great way to do it. Obviously you can jump in full time, but being able to build up that that clientele was huge for me. I mean, that’s what really, really set it set it on the right path is doing it that way. stressful.

Yeah, you mentioned you you wrote a few things down. Is there anything that you wrote down that you like kind of had in mind and maybe talk about that you want to drop on us?

Oh, man, I, we, I mean, just not nothing really. I think we’ve kind of went through all that. Here’s a tip I learned when I was just getting started working like crazy hours is this is for all the handyman out there. If you go to Home Depot, the tool rental department because I was working at Honda Civic, I didn’t have any tools my own but for the jobs. If you go three hours before they close and do a four hour rental, you get it for the entire night, they’ll have to return it till 9am. So when I was working till two or three in the morning, I had I only paid for four hours on that tool rental, there’s a

good little tip so increased

close to four hour rental. That’s a heck of a floor scrapers and you know tile saws and yeah, yeah. And if you do it on Sunday, they close earlier so you get longer to here I’ll probably area in my yard and my neighbor or my neighbor’s yard. I’ll probably go get it three and a half hours where they close on a Sunday night and get a bunch of yards air rated.

seeing a trend across the nation of the Home Depot rental lines, they might change the poles that are this one that

is awesome. Yeah, I know. I want everyone’s Yeah, I want to do a little poll. You know, for people that made it this far in the podcast. If you heard about that Home Depot tip, go ahead and drop us a comment in there. Just saying I’m gonna use that Home Depot tip. We want to hear it the people that made it this far. That’s awesome. That’s

Yeah, I know. There’s plenty of guys. Yeah. I’ve seen it work.

That’s for people that do it at night. Yeah. For all those people that are doing their jobs at night, you know, that’s waiting to do it. So for sure. That’s great.

That might be the pro tip on the handyman level that I’ve ever heard. That goes

on the handyman in the know Facebook, saving a little money, man. Oh man,

any man in the know.

Well, to round us out, Mike, this has been a fantastic conversation. I really appreciate having you on you are an amazing person to know. Just an amazing person to have in the handyman community. So excited about that. I got one last question for you. When you were at the zoo. Did you ever get to ride the rhinos?

No, no, no, we’re gonna ride

on. Oh, man. That would be I wish that would be fantastic.

No. So I mean, every single week I would stick my arm up it’s but that’s kind of cool.

That said is a little bit of a different level. But

that was his next question.

That was my next question. Did

you ever I mean, all the way up to the shoulder. So Wow.

Where are you checking for pregnancy photos?

Yeah, so the only way Okay, neither ovaries is going with ultrasound one. And then you can monitor their their ovaries and pregnancy and stuff is going rectally.

Well there you go.

I haven’t I want you to join. Join the handyman page on the access podcast,

zookeeper success podcast. Hosted by my better zookeepers in the No, man that’s good. Oh, there

there’s already Facebook pages like that. I’m just waiting for him to kick me out. I’m not zookeeper anymore.

This is fantastic I think with

what you did with the rhinos there that you should have a lifetime membership to any zoo keeper group

that’s legit right?

Yeah and it just goes to show like your how your life can change you know I thought that’s what I want to do forever and you know I worked there for six years and I loved it but you know just starting to look is this do I want to fight to have holidays off for the rest of my life? Do I want to be able to you know Miss Miss soccer games and stuff with the kids because they’re you know have to work late that night or there’s something going on so it was more of a lifestyle thing

I love it and I think it’s really cool that you’re starting to see that freedom I mean now that like you said you’ve been able to create that stay at home route for your mom or for your wife to be a stay at home mom like that’s huge you know so that’s really cool

yep all right well yeah wrap up here

raising you know we have two kids now and she gets to take them to school. Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Yeah, well hey Mike, thank you again for coming on man. This was awesome I hope I know that people you know there’s so much to learn and gather from this and be inspired from your story you know mom groups start part time you know tons of good takeaways so thank you for opening up you know not only about your business but about your life to You know, share with everyone listening today.

Absolutely Yeah, I hope some people get something valuable out of this so I always like talking about kind of my journey so hopefully you know, and in five years it’s going to be a whole nother play I have big big dreams so it’ll be a whole nother ballgame so

yeah, yeah well we’ll have you back on I think we’re gonna have to follow up with a lot of our guys or a lot of our guests on here to you know follow up with them and see how things progress over a year or two because so much obviously you’re an example that one years difference I mean it’s night and day like just by yourself to now six people I mean that’s that’s pretty awesome man so what’s the last thing

we have one last thing it’s another tip it’s all in the mindset thing you know, we did a job I mean, this is a mindset thing we did a job six months ago and it was the biggest invoice ever sent. And we got done with it and I looked at amount of hours we put in I’m like, wow, we did not make very much so we did pretty much the same job recently and charge three times as much. And it was all just a mental thing. You know, I just hit three times bigger than my biggest invoice and it’s all in your head.

So man, love it. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. Yeah, absolutely. Yep, very cool. Very cool. Well for all you guys out there listening thank you guys so much for tuning in. We got a couple asks for you. Go ahead and subscribe to this channel, like this video and leave us a comment. Whether you are you know listening to this watching it on YouTube. We would really love to hear your feedback and also join the handyman success mastermind group on Facebook and the soon to be handyman in the no

Facebook group. And the zookeeper sucks and

the zookeeper success group, right. Okay. Thank you guys so much for tuning in. We really appreciate it we would be nothing without our viewers. So thank you guys so much and I hope you guys have a fantastic day.