How to price handyman jobs is one of the biggest concerns for small service providers. Learn why finding the right pricing model is essential in this article. Plus, explore different pricing strategies and how to decide what to charge customers.
As a bonus, you’ll get tips you can use right away to price your projects, including using estimating software to make the process easier and more accurate.
The Importance of Effective Pricing for Your Handyman Services
Finding the Right Price
Setting the right prices for handyman services is key to getting repeat business. Price a job too high, and most customers won’t return.
Underpricing can be just as bad. If you don’t charge enough for your work, you risk not making enough profit to cover expenses. Or you have to take a much higher volume of work to make up for making less on each job.
The high-volume model of producing revenue can lead to burnout and repetitive use injuries. It can also facilitate errors or accidents that result in liability claims—a situation you want to avoid.
Handyman Pricing Models: Flat Rate (Per Project) vs. Hourly
Most handyman businesses use one of two pricing models:
- Flat rate per job
- Hourly rate for service
Which one is right for you? That depends.
Let’s talk about charging by the hour first. We’ll get into more detail about calculating numerical rates below. But for now, consider when charging by the hour might be best.
If you don’t know how long a job will take, billing by the hour can benefit you. Imagine you are hired to fix a broken door that’s not closing properly. It sounds like a straightforward job on the phone, but when you get to the client’s home, you realize it’s more complex.
You have to remove some of the jamb damaged by termites, which calls for a trip to the lumber yard and setting up your saw. Then, you have to do the jamb repairs before you can even start rehanging the door correctly.
What looked like a one-hour job has morphed into nearly a full day of work. But you’re protected if you give an hourly estimate because you’ll get paid for the extra time.
The reverse can be true as well. You could bill hourly for jobs that take you little time to complete. You wind up spending a lot on administration and travel only to bill small amounts.
Flat Rate Pricing
If you charge a flat rate, you are guaranteed a certain amount of income even if you finish the job fast.
For instance, say you charge $68 per hour. If you finish fixing a broken shower valve in 30 minutes, you only bill $34 for the job. That’s not very much for your effort.
But say you bill a flat rate of $120 (plus parts) to fix shower valves. You make nearly twice that hourly rate if you can get the work finished in half an hour.
You may have some bigger jobs where you mix hourly and flat-rate work. You might charge by the hour to replace a customer’s old kitchen sink because you are worried the time involved is tough to estimate. But you know hanging the curtain rods in their new home will be a breeze, so you can quote them a flat rate for that work.
How Experience Affects Rates
There’s one major factor that can affect your rates: your experience level. If you’re new to the industry or have just started your own company, you may have to charge less at first. This will determine which pricing model you choose.
For example, you opened your business nine months ago, and you don’t have a lot of clients yet. A homeowner is taking bids to have their exterior lights replaced with new models.
It could be good word-of-mouth advertising for you if the job is done well. Perhaps you could take pictures of the finished work for your website portfolio.
You’d normally charge $75 per hour for the work. But you worry about pricing yourself out of the job if competitors bid lower. So, you multiply $75 per hour by 10 hours—the time needed to complete the job. Then, you shave off $150 and bid a flat $600, letting the customer know you’re giving them a deal to sweeten the offer.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re the most experienced person in your area at certain types of work. This might put you in demand. You can therefore charge a premium flat rate regardless of the time involved or related expenses.
How to Set Your Prices as a Handyman
As you decide between hourly or flat-rate billing, there are other considerations you need to think about in pricing handyman jobs:
- Whether you work for yourself or have employees who might take longer to complete some jobs
- Whether or not jobs might require extra time to shop for parts or set up special tools
- Which jobs you are more skilled at, or for which you have tools that speed up time to completion
- The amount you have to spend to secure the work (see more below), including on-site visits for estimates
- How clients respond to different billing models, such as wanting a cap on hourly estimates (“not to exceed…”)
- How your competitors charge, which influences what customers expect
- Whether you need to pay for help from another contractor, like a plumber, electrician, or HVAC specialist
- If you’re working with a repeat or favorite client to whom you’d like to offer an easy or discounted invoice
- If you have seasonal ups and downs to your work and want to adjust pricing accordingly
- If taking a larger job might make you unavailable to other clients, costing you business you need to make up for
How To Determine the Amount You Charge
Whether you price by the hour or give a flat rate, how do you set your price to start with? In addition to experience, what other factors should you consider?
First, you need to consider what it costs to get the client to begin with. This includes marketing and advertising. It also includes site visits and writing proposals or bids.
Next, you want to think about what it will cost to actually do the job. Are materials included, or are you charging for them separately? Do you have all the tools required, or will you be renting machinery?
Other aspects of job execution include:
- Employee labor paid
- Your own salary or wages
- Subcontractors (if necessary)
- Permits or special job insurance
- Travel to the job site
- Meals and miscellaneous costs
For some jobs, you might want to bill extra for “pain in the neck” work that’s complicated or outside your usual scope of tasks. This includes unusual waste disposal or dealing with toxic substances. It could also encompass unusual requests like rush deadlines, working over holidays, and the like.
Finally, you need to add general overhead expenses, such as:
- Headquarters rent or mortgage
- Vehicle payments and maintenance
- Office staff payroll
- Utilities and services you use
- Business insurance coverage
Naturally, you have to consider your geographic area. In most cases, you can’t charge the same in the rural Midwest as you would in a major coastal city.
Your client base must also be factored into your handyman service pricing. Typically, you can charge more to businesses than to homeowners, as they have budgets for repair projects. So, if you work for property managers or apartment building owners, you might price your work higher.
You may also charge more if you serve affluent private clients or do specialty work like repairs in historic properties.
What about bulk pricing? Fixing a broken window for a homeowner is a one-off. But you might repair 20 clogged sinks a month for a mom-and-pop motel in your town. Do you want to offer tiered pricing based on volume?
That brings up another important question. Do you want to have a set “menu” of prices for regular services on your website? Or do you want to price every job individually?
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Estimating Software for Easy Job Pricing
So now it’s time to add everything up. You can take all these pricing considerations and do all your calculations by hand, of course. But if pricing sounds overwhelming and challenging, it doesn’t have to be.
You can use estimating software designed for your industry to generate quotes quickly. First, you fill in the information requested by the program. Then, the software puts it in a formula to create pricing.
Estimating software makes your handyman business look more professional, helping you stand out from the competition. The best software offers:
- The ability to add deposits
- Figuring out payment schedules
- Custom contracts and templates
- Digital signatures to save time
Contractor software saves you money by:
- Making sure all your underlying expenses are included when pricing jobs
- Reducing office staff hours needed to generate job proposals
- Letting you invest your time primarily in billable tasks, not paperwork
No matter what size business you own, this efficiency is vital in protecting your bottom line. Furthermore, it improves your work-life balance, especially if you’re a sole proprietor. Who doesn’t love that?
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The Average Handyman Prices for These 6 Common Jobs
When pricing your own work, it’s helpful to know what the average handyman charges for the same jobs. You can collect this information in several ways:
- Directly asking competitors or their customers
- Viewing online ads and social media posts
- Checking sites like Angi, Thumbtack, and Craigslist
You can also get more statistical data from government websites like the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Here are six common handyman projects and the average of what your colleagues bill for them:
Cabinet Repair: $120-400
This is a fairly simple job most of the time. Variations in price can be attributed to geographic varieties. But there can be complications like matching wood, paint colors, or hardware.
Deck or Porch Repair: $500-2,600
These kinds of repairs can vary greatly, depending on the construction of the deck or porch and the structure’s integrity. Also, you have to factor in weather, selecting and hauling materials, and the need for a permit to do more than small jobs.
Faucet Installation: $120-300
Most of the time, these jobs go quite easily and can be done efficiently. But you can run into trouble if the underlying plumbing has problems, especially in older homes.
Painting a Room: $350-850
A plain, unadorned room can be easy to paint. But be careful of issues such as:
- Lots of trim requiring different treatments
- Excessive masking and protection needs
- Having to move items before you can paint
- Reaching very high areas of the room
- Property owner indecision with colors
- Surfaces that take multiple coats to cover
You probably want to see the room first before giving an estimate. And be specific about what services you are providing.
Thermostat Installation: $80-200
In most instances, this job is easily completed. But like with installing plumbing fixtures, if the connecting infrastructure is faulty, the job can quickly become a nightmare. Also, be aware that some programmable thermostats nowadays have a lot of bells and whistles that make setup time-consuming.
Window Replacement: $400-1,000
You need to make sure you have all your supplies ready and plan out this type of project. If there’s a problem, your customer can’t be left with a gaping hole in their wall. You might need extra supplies for draft sealing or caulking. Matching windows in a historic home can be tricky, too.
What Other Factors Affect Handyman Job Pricing?
We’ve already mentioned some of the factors often overlooked in handyman job pricing. These include traveling to job sites and obtaining special equipment. But they are worth revisiting, because they’re crucial to remember when pricing jobs.
You could have a job that’s only 10 miles from your home or office. But if you have to sit in traffic for a half hour to travel those miles, that time needs to be built into your pricing.
Likewise, you might have to rent a specific type of saw or a trailer to haul materials. That cost must also be integrated into your billing.
What are some other costs that should be included in job pricing?
- Are you partnering with another professional for some aspect of a project? Don’t forget to include the fee for a garage door specialist or window company as needed.
- How about waste disposal? You might charge an extra fee for dealing with something hazardous.
- What about regular waste removal, recycling, or dumpster use?
- Do you include continuing education, certifications, and licensing requirements? You should.
- How about sick time, vacation time, and other times when you’re not working? How do you plan to cover that?
- What about cost of living increases? Your pricing can’t be set in stone. You have to account for rising overhead expenses plus things like employee raises and retirement savings. Did you know that almost half of the households in America, including solopreneurs and small business owners, have no retirement savings? Don’t let that happen to you!
- Did you include your tax payments in your pricing structure?
A final, critical consideration is to account for your profit margins. You don’t want to be breaking even on jobs. You want to be making extra on nearly every one.
Say you need to make $10,000 per month to cover your overhead and other expenses. If you’re only billing $10,000, you’re not making any profit. How can you grow your business or save that way?
Instead, you need to work backward. You need $10,000 to cover expenses each month. You want to bring home $6,000 per month for your own personal income. And you want an additional $4,000 to put back into the business for growth.
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That amounts to $20,000 per month. If you do 50 jobs per month, you need to average $400 per job. Some will pay more, some less. But now you know what you need to track to stay on target.
5 Tips for Pricing Your Handyman Services
Ready to start taking a closer look at pricing your handyman services? Here are five tips you can start using today:
- Consider adding a slight markup if you provide materials. Stay on top of rising costs for items like lumber, plumbing fixtures, and other items that tend to vary in price.
- Buy items you use frequently in bulk, like hardware, door handles, etc. It will save you from running to the hardware or home supply store whenever you need one. This is especially important for items you don’t charge customers for.
- Offer group rates for neighbors and home associations. You can fill up your calendar, plus you save on travel time with multiple jobs in one location.
- Give regular customers the option of a service package. This could include buying five and getting the sixth job free. Or you offer a second service at a discount when they book you for the first one. Customers love only paying for one service call.
- Use estimating software to maximize your money-making time. If you choose an app like Joist, you can get accurate estimates on the go, so your business stays humming every day of the workweek.
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Need to estimate a handyman job?
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