There’s never ever a shortage of people who need the crafty multi-skills of a handyman for property maintenance, creating many exciting opportunities when you’re looking at opening your own handyman business. From fixing a hole in the wall to tidying up a client’s yard, no two days are ever the same in this fast-paced industry. That’s because there will never be a shortage of home repair jobs that need doing.
With so much going on it’s important to make sure you have all the right steps in place to establish your handyman business so you’re good to go and can hit the ground running. Our guide is all about focusing on the vital basics you need to consider before assisting your first clients, to help make your business professional, confident and ultimately a great success!
Before we get stuck into what’s involved in starting a handyman business, let’s consider the pros and cons of starting a handyman service business.
Pros of starting a handyman business
- Complete autonomy: Enjoy the freedom of setting your own schedule and dictating what your income will be.
- Enjoy variety, every day: When you operate your own handyman service business you are free to set your own agenda and plan every day how you want.
- You set the pace for of your operation: When you run your own handyman business, you set the terms for every working day. This offers an incredible sense of freedom, provided you’re disciplined and keep it responsible.
- A true sense of pride: Being a self-made man or woman offers a real sense of pride. It’s a true badge of honour to succeed from scratch with your own business.
Four reasons why starting a handyman business may not be right for you
- Lack of security and stability: Yes, you’ll be able to set your own wage when you run your own handyman business. But you also need to make enough money to pay yourself a decent wage. And that’s after covering all your recurring business expenses.
- Greater responsibility (and liability): As the owner of your own handyman business, you will need to get comfortable with carrying both great responsibility and potentially great liability.
- A competitive space: Don’t let the word “small” lull you into a false sense of security. Small business can be super competitive, and you’ll be going up against established handyman operations.
- More admin duties: Owning a small business means you may well spend as much time on paperwork as you will on the tools. And as a sole operate you unfortunately won’t have the luxury of neglecting either.
Here are top 12 tips that can help you set up your own successful handyman or property maintenance business.
Step 1 – Starting from the plan up
To succeed with a property maintenance business or a home repair company, a business plan is the fundamental blueprint that will underpin your handyman business. Consider it as a roadmap that details where your business is, where you want it to be in the future and how you’re going to get there.
Details like your financial position, goals for the future, market analysis, overview of the business and its activities are just some of the key things that you will need to include in your handyman business plan. If you feel a bit lost and unsure you can always contact professionals like your accountant or a business coach to provide guidance.
Step 2 – Choose your business structure
A key part of your journey to becoming a handyman business owner is choosing your business structure. There are four core options: Sole Trader, Company, Partnership or Trust. Each has its advantages, so carefully consider which is the right fit for you.
Step 3 – Set up your banking
So that you can start accepting payments from your clients and get those tills rolling, you will need to set up a few things with your banking. Keeping your business banking sperate from your personal banking is typically recommended, especially when it comes to having to process financial details come tax time.
In addition to having a business account you may also want to look at the methods that customers will be able to conduct payments with you. Have a think about if you will need a portable payment system so they can pay you on the job or will you include your banking details on your invoices for them to transfer into your account?
Have a chat to a business banker about the different options which will suit your business best and weigh up the associated merchant fees that may be applicable with these business banking services. You don’t want to be forking out for features that your business may not need.
Step 4 – Licences and compliance
Working within the handyman industry means there may be a few legal requirements like licences and handyman registrations to have in place before you can pick up those tools. It’s important that you check the specific requirements for the type of work you will be performing as well as the state you are working in to make sure you are a correctly certified handyman.
In Australia there is no one handyman licence that covers you for work you do anywhere in the country. Instead, licence requirements and certifications are determined by each state or territory, and the critical details can vary.
As such, handyman licenses can be a little hard to decipher, especially if you ply your trade in several states.
So, let’s take a closer look at handyman licence requirements for each Australian state and territory, which will come in handy should you take on property maintenance service jobs in several Australian states. We will also touch on how handyman insurance (the term used for business insurance* products that can help handyman businesses reduce their exposure to business risks).
Handyman certifications and licence requirements in NSW
Handymen and handywomen contractors providing their services in NSW are required to hold a valid handyman licence under two key circumstances:
- if their residential building work is valued at $5,000 or more (including the cost of GST, labour, and materials); and
- if their work involves air conditioning, refrigeration, electrical, wiring, plumbing, gas fitting, and the reconnection and disconnection of fixed electrical equipment.
If you intend to start a handyman business in Sydney, it’s worth remembering that the above jobs require a specialised licence, which can be applied for in person at a Service NSW office. A benefit of holding a specialised licence is that you will often be able to increase your pricing for certain handyman jobs.
Handyman licence requirements in Victoria
In contrast to NSW, in the state of Victoria registration and licensing requirements for handymen and handywomen are often determined by the specific nature of their work and the specific details of each job.
If you are thinking about starting a handyman business in Melbourne or elsewhere in Victoria, here are a few examples of how the Victorian government administers handyman licence requirements:
- Demolition, re-stumping, re-blocking and structural work can only be done by registered (licensed) building practitioners.
- Plumbers, drainers, and gasfitters must be licensed or registered with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) before they can carry out plumbing work. The VBA must issue them with an identification card and a certificate of compliance for any work that they charge $750 or more for, or gas fittings and work on below-ground sewer pipes regardless of the value of the job.
Electricians are required to be licensed by Energy Safe Victoria, which issues Certificates of Electrical Safety when electricians perform work in domestic premises in the state. Licensed electricians in Victoria are advised to carry their licence with them whenever on the job.
Handyman licence requirements in Queensland
Do you intend to start a handyman business in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland? If you plan to work in the building industry in Queensland, there may be a good chance that you will require a valid licence. However, there are some instances where you will not need to hold a licence.
In the Sunshine State, the Queensland Building And Construction Commission (QBCC) generally requires that sole traders, trustees, partners, and companies hold a currently valid QBCC licence to carry out (i.e., contract for) building work that is valued over $3,300. If you take on jobs that are valued over $1,100 that involve hydraulic services design you will also require a currently valid QBCC licence.
Any jobs in Queensland that involve the following types work (of any value) will also require that you hold a QBCC licence:
- plumbing and drainage;
- gas fitting;
- termite management – chemical;
- fire protection;
- completed residential building inspection;
- building design – low rise, medium rise and open;
- site classification; and
- mechanical services.
Handyman licence requirements in South Australia
To start a handyman business in Adelaide or anywhere in South Australia, handymen (individuals and businesses) must be licensed as building contractors, (and that includes subcontractors) if they run a business that carries out or organises building work for others, or for the purpose of selling or leasing land or buildings.
In the state of South Australia, sole traders typically apply for a contractor’s licence and building work supervisor registration at the same time due to the fact that both are required to contract work in the state.
However, exemptions are considered for certain partners in the business who don’t actually organise or do the work. These individuals are no longer required to hold a contractor’s licence and can apply for an exemption – for example, as an administration partner.
Handyman licence requirements in ACT
Are you thinking about starting a handyman business in Canberra, or elsewhere in the ACT? If so, it’s worth noting that in the Australian Capital Territory handymen and handywomen are required to be licensed under the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004. In order to receive a builder licence in the ACT, you will be required to meet the state’s minimum eligibility requirements.
You may benefit from having several licencing options if you meet certain criteria, such as if you have previously held a relevant licence. This process may also take into account what class of licence you intend to apply for, as well as the level of handyman training you have completed to date.
Handyman licence requirements in Western Australia
When it comes to handyman certifications in Western Australia, the following handyman trade professions are required to hold a licence that relates to the work and services they offer. Unlike other Australian states, in Western Australia different organisations and governing bodies administer the various types of trade licences and registration, as follows.
- Builders, building surveyors, and painters are required to register with the state’s Building Services Board.
- Plumbers are required to be licensed with the Plumbers Licensing Board.
- Electrical professionals are required to be licensed with Building and Energy.
- Gas fitters are required to be licensed with Building and Energy.
- Demolition work (high risk) requires a licence issued by WorkSafe.
- Pest controllers are required to be licensed with the Department of Health.
When starting a handyman business in Perth, in most circumstances only a registered building services contractor is permitted to contract for, or carry out, builder work as described in the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 where the total fee or charge payable exceeds $20,000.
Handyman licence requirements in the Northern Territory
Are you mulling over starting a handyman business in Darwin?
Well, if you are looking to ply your trade as a builder, handyman, or a building certifier in the Northern Territory, you must first apply for your NT registration. This requires that you register with the state’s Building Practitioners Board.
Handyman licence requirements in Tasmania
Starting a handyman business in Hobart or anywhere in the state of Tasmania requires you to talk to Tassie’s Consumer, Building and Occupational Services. This organisation oversees builder licences in the following three specific classes:
- Builder (General Construction): A licence for general builders who manage or carry out demolition, construction, alteration, addition, relocation or repairs.
- Fire protection services builder: A licence for specialist builders responsible for managing or carrying out fire protection services work.
- Demolisher: Like the title suggests, this licence is for specialist builders who manage or carry out demolition of existing buildings, structures and building work. Importantly, a demolisher cannot perform any new building work.
The requirements can change from each state and territory, so check with your industry provider for up-to-date details.
Step 5 – Accounting & Bookkeeping
Ensuring that you have the right practices in place when it comes to accounting, is something you need to implement from the very start. Fortunately, these days there are plenty of programs available to help streamline and make the accounting process a breeze.
The trick is to stay on top of it, to make sure you have a consistent invoicing process, that all your receipts are kept in a central space and can be easily accessed, and that you have a good control over your finances.
You don’t want to be going in blind, having no idea where your business is tracking. You’ll want to consistently know what is working well and what needs improvement. Having these systems in place as well as the help of a good financial professional like an accountant. Accounting is one of the key things to creating a successful handyman business start-up.
Step 6 – Spread the word, open for business!
Once you get all the nitty gritty and formalities out of the way it’s time to let your customers know that you’re ready to get handy! It’s now time to show off what you can do when it comes to property maintenance, home repairs, home remodelling, and home renovation.
Here are some of the basic ways you can start out small with your marketing to get the word out there.
- Set up a Facebook page: You can even add the functionality for customers to message you directly if they have any questions
- Run some ads to help boost your online presence.
- Word of mouth – one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, but it still works!
Step 7 – Grow your handyman business
Now that you’ve learned what’s involved in starting your handyman business, including any legal requirements, let’s look at a few key actions you can take to help increase your chances of long-term success as a handyman business owner, regardless of your handyman structure.
Step 8 – Market your handyman business
Make no mistake – every business can benefit from marketing, so much so that you may consider learning the marketing basics as part of your ongoing handyman training. In fact, with well-considered and compelling marketing you may in time increase the pricing of your property maintenance services.
A part of your marketing, focus on clearly defining your target audience (your ideal customer); this is the type of customer you want tailor your handyman services to. Will you focus on homeowners, or small businesses? Perhaps you will target industrial businesses. Once you decide who your target audience is, focus on ensuring your marketing addresses their specific needs and frustrations.
As you gear up to offer your property maintenance services, consider putting some time and thought aside for thinking about how marketing will help grow your business. You may consider the following three marketing activities and to help your new handyman business get some quick wins on the board:
- invest in Google Ads;
- create business accounts on social media and share helpful handyman tips and tricks;
- advertise your services in the local newspaper.
Step 9 – Purchase essential equipment and handyman tools
The old adage goes that a handyman is only as good as his tools, and as a handyman you will need more than a few. As you amass an arsenal of quality (and often expensive) equipment and tools that you will put to use every day in your handyman business, also consider how your business would fair if your essential handyman tools were damaged or stolen?
BizCover can help with that by making handyman insurance such as Tools of Trade insurance easy and affordable for handymen. With BizCover you can even get your Tools of Trade insurance online and get covered in just 10 minutes.
Step 10 – Pricing your handyman services
On the critical point of pricing your handyman services, you will benefit from deciding whether you will be affordable or will charge premium prices. Whichever you choose, it will impact perceptions about your business.
Step 11 – Contracts and agreements
Hiring employees or contractors can be a great way to grow you handyman business and keep it running a business day to day while you strategise on how you will expand your operations.
As an employer, it’s essential that you develop and maintain great relationships with your employees, and the first step in doing just that is having formal employment contracts for each individual that your handyman business employs. You will also benefit from agreements with key suppliers.
Contact BizCover today for a quote and get your handyman insurance* sorted in a flash. We don’t believe in filling in mountains of paperwork or using confusing insurance lingo, just drama free insurance in the click of a button.
Step 12 – Insurance for your handyman business
Putting in all that hard work to starting a handyman business, it makes sense to have tailored business insurances in place to protect it. The process of insuring your handyman business doesn’t need to be complicated or hard. These are some of the basic types of insurances you may need to consider.
Public Liability insurance*
Public Liability insurance is designed to provide protection for you and your business in the event a customer, supplier or a member of the public brings a claim against you due to their being injured or sustaining property damage as a result of your negligent business activities.
Business Insurance is an insurance package designed to provide cover for your business contents, stock, tools and commercial premises when an insured event occurs (such as fire, storm, theft or even accidental damage). A Business Insurance package can also cover your portable equipment, glass and for loss of revenue due to business interruption in specified circumstances. In addition, cover is available for public liability, tax audit, employment practices and statutory liability risks.
Personal Accident and Illness*
Personal Accident and Illness insurance can provide cover should you become permanently disabled or pass away as a result of an accident. Cover can also include a weekly benefit for loss of income if you are unable to work as a result of an unexpected injury or illness (even if it occurs outside of your employment).
Choose BizCover to make handyman insurance simple
It can take a lot of time, effort, and staying power to build a successful trade business. And if you’ve done all of that, then you owe it to yourself to protect what you have created. And BizCover is here to help by making business insurance easier than it ever has been.
When renewing or reviewing your handyman insurance, check out your options with BizCover. Compare competitive quotes from leading Aussie insurers online and get covered in just 10 minutes. Give us a call on 1300 920 871 to find out how BizCover makes insurance for handymen easy and business fast.
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