Spotlight: A Question Over Dinner Launched Handyman Matters Franchise

handyman matters

Buying a home is a huge investment and it comes with a lot of responsibility. Homes require a lot of maintenance and upkeep. So for those who aren’t exactly handy, home ownership can seem a little overwhelming.

That’s why Handyman Matters aims to cover as many home improvement projects as possible. The business has been around for about 15 years, using customer needs to dictate new services and offerings. Read more about Handyman Matters in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does:

Approximately 1,162 different types of home improvement projects and commercial repairs.

Services include plumbing, roofing, drywall and more. The business currently has 120 locations in North America. So they aim to cover all types of repairs in as many areas as possible.

Business Niche:

Covering every type of project a homeowner might need.

Often, homeowners have multiple projects that pile up. And calling a plumber, roofer and other contractors can be both inconvenient and expensive. But Handyman Matters covers a huge variety of different projects. So homeowners can just make one call to cover all or most of their home improvement needs.

How the Business Got Started:

Because of a very particular skill set.

Before starting the business, founder Andy Bell worked in the restaurant industry and found himself traveling about three weeks out of every month. He knew that lifestyle wouldn’t be great for family life. So he left his job in 1997, knowing he wanted to start a business but not having a real plan.

Then, he had a conversation with some friends that gave him an idea. Bell says:

“Over a bottle of wine with another couple a fascinating question was asked. Instead of, “What are you going to do?” I was asked, “What can you do?” Almost without hesitation I said, I can fix a swamp cooler. We laughed and then decided I could call myself Swamp Boy. Which I did. The very next Friday I placed an ad in the classified section of the Rocky Mountain news and the phone started ringing.”

handyman matters

Biggest Win:

Creating a handyman show.

Bell explains:

“We were advertising on the radio around Valentine’s Day and we had created a fun ad to get people’s attention. It started out with slow music, a beautifully moderated tonal voice speaking about getting something wonderful for your sweetheart and then it blasted into a skill saw, drill and hammer noise interrupter and stated “How about you get her a handyman”. A local news reporter heard the ad and hunted me down. He invited me on his show, it went so well we created a weekly show called Inside Job. After several months, they gave the show to me to produce and deliver on my own.”

Biggest Risk:

Developing the company’s own database and software.

Bell says:

“The question becomes very clear early on, and most businesses face this — use a software that is off the shelf or go for it and create and maintain your own? There are very few companies that do what we do, let alone as much as we do, so finding a solution was always a compromise. We took a leap, hired an individual and crossed our fingers that we could build a solution not just for the day to day operations, but the running of hundreds of different companies off of this platform. This decision to control our own technology has made us unique in the market and has created more value for our franchise owners.”

Lesson Learned:

Create a strategy plan.

Bell thinks that having a clear strategy in place at the beginning of each year may have helped him stay more focused. He says:

“I tend to be like most founders and lose focus when a shiny object floats by. This is not only a distraction from the direction of the company, but confusing for employees and franchise owners.”

handyman matters

Favorite Team-Building Activity:

Handyman Olympics.

Bell explains:

“We organized a fundraiser in 2001 called the Handyman Olympics, a two-day competition in Denver where we built 10 bathrooms in a high-profile park among other contractors. We used the money to start a nonprofit to assist the elderly.”

Favorite Quote:

“If you don’t spend all of your time hiring, training and evaluating . . . you will spend all of your time hiring, training and evaluating.” ~ Stew Newbold

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: Handyman Matters


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions
  1. Always feels good to hear from a business owner who has been out there and done that. And it is true that you have to continuously hire people but there is a trick to hiring the right ones.

  2. Great idea you have shared here. A handyman be always like you who are dedicated to their works. Great experience!