Have you ever hired a handyman to take care of projects around your house?
Home handyman is a quintessential small business, and often home-based as well. I recently heard a handyman success story that illustrates some important business principles.
A friend used a handyman for a range of construction and fix-it projects at his home. The handyman was good and could take care of almost anything that came up. They had a casual relationship and the handyman could usually find time to squeeze in jobs on short notice.
This, however, changed recently. The last time the homeowner needed help, the handyman had a tight schedule so he couldn’t just “drop by.” They set up an appointment that worked for both sides. When the handyman came by to do the work they started talking and my friend was curious why the handyman’s schedule seemed more inflexible than it had been.
It turns out that the handyman’s wife had lost her job and taken over his scheduling and other administrative tasks. This simple “addition” to the handyman’s “staff” doubled his income – and it doesn’t take up all of his wife’s time.
There may have been a time when the handyman considered adding a scheduler, but he probably thought to himself, “I can’t afford to hire someone.”
In fact, he couldn’t afford NOT to hire someone.
Here are some of the important business and economic principles to glean from this story:
- Division of labor. Businesses are always more productive when they divide up tasks so people can concentrate in a defined area. It works in automobile manufacturing and it works in the service industries as well. In other words, delegate.
- Time management. Parkinson’s Law says that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Undoubtedly the handyman gave himself more than enough time to do a job “just in case” something came up. His wife has been more disciplined. Looking at Parkinson’s Law from the positive side, you can conclude that people will complete jobs within the time you allow them. People find ways to get things done when they have to. This is the essence of productivity improvement.
- Recognize your strengths. This handyman is very skilled and provides excellent service. However, scheduling and administrative tasks aren’t his strong suit. It’s great that his wife has taken over these responsibilities, but the work could just as easily have gone to an assistant. Consider his lost revenue while he spent his valuable billable hours doing work a lower paid assistant could take care of.
- Implement systems. While the handyman was great at building decks, he wasn’t good at constructing an efficient job schedule or administrative systems and routines. Now that his wife has brought systems and order to his business, if she wants, she can hand it off to someone else and find a job to replace the one she lost.
Here’s one more important observation: The smaller your business, the greater impact working with these principles will have. Our handyman was a one-person operation. Adding a part-time scheduler doubled his income. This is how small businesses grow and the easiest growth comes from the first few improvements you make.
Fail to do these things and you are simply leaving money on the table.