- Chris Golden
Thinking About Calling a Franchised Handyman Service?
You've probably seen those black and red vans with the logo "Mr. Handyman" driving around. Over the last 5 to 10 years, Mr. Handyman has risen to the top of the page when searching for a handyman. The advertising emphasizes their trustworthiness and experience. You might have even thought about hiring them for your home repairs and household tasks. But before you do, you might want to consider a few things.
This particular company is a big corporation with headquarters located in Michigan. According to Wikipedia (you can read their page here), the company sells franchise rights to certain individuals, called franchise owners, for somewhere around $100,000. These franchises operate in the US, Ireland, China, and Canada. The new franchise owner hires a bunch of "technicians" to do the actual work, supplies them with branded vehicles and uniforms, and then sets them up with customers needing home repairs. These technicians' level of experience may vary greatly. The website boasts "All of our handymen have an average of 10 years' experience". Let's think about that for a second. If they have one technician that claims to have 25 years of experience and 3 other guys with 5 years experience they meet this average. And who's going to question their claim in the first place? How can you, the customer, possibly know?
The employees of Mr. Handyman paint a less than rosy picture of the way each individual franchise operates. Feel free to read some of their complaints here if you wish. Common complaints are about hostile management, too few hours, low pay, and upset customers.
This is most likely a result of a business model in which the owner of a home improvement service is just a "moneyman" who may or may not have any construction experience. More likely is that the owner is just looking for a new revenue stream and couldn't care less about providing quality service for you, the customer.
What does this business model mean for you? Well, to start with, expect to pay much higher prices than you would with than an independent local handyman. Mr. Handyman appears to be charging somewhere around $100.00 per hour for their services. That's a lot, even for a very skilled handyman. And it appears that their techs are only paid around $20 of that $100. This results in unhappy workers who may or may not want to do a good job. Furthermore, a quick web search uncovers an apparent policy of overcharging for any materials needed to do their jobs. This practice of "padding the bill" is how they help to cover the considerable overhead of running the franchise. Let's not forget that you are footing the bill for their corporate franchise fee, advertising, umbrella insurance coverage, and all those snazzy vans and uniforms! That's a lot of overhead! And also keep in mind that the reviews of their work quality seems to be mixed (at best). According to Yelp, some customers have reported that they were charged for multiple runs to Home Depot for supplies. Others complain of unskilled techs who had no idea how to perform their tasks.
How does an independent local handyman like myself compare to such a big company? For starters, I have much less overhead to pay for. My advertising budget is a tiny fraction of theirs. I'm also highly motivated to do a good job for my customers as I live and thrive on their good reviews and referrals. I also have much more experience in construction than their average technician. My job isn't just a side hustle for me. I take pride in my work and like doing a good job for my customers. I have their best interests in mind as opposed to bleeding them dry like some kind of vampire hungry for cash.
You don't have to take my word for it. Search the web for more info before you make the decision to spend your hard-earned dollars on your next home repair. If you feel like taking a gamble, by all means call that big franchise. You might get lucky and get a good technician who knows his stuff. Or you might get a guy that's new to the business and needed a new job. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.