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A Career In Home Improvement

Home improvement is a vast and varied sector for Service-leavers to examine if they are considering setting up their own businesses.

Our homes are usually the most valuable asset we own and most of us will at one stage or another decide that some part requires maintenance, upgrading or replacement. Little wonder then, that there is a huge range of opportunity based around the home improvement sector.

Whilst it’s true that the trend for DIY does not look likely to disappear, it is also a fact that people are prepared to invest in good quality maintenance services for their homes, either with a view to retaining or increasing value or because they want the assurance of a job well done, that they can then enjoy over the long term. People also regard themselves as increasingly time-poor and beyond that our aging population means that even people that might feel like trying their hand, no longer feel empowered to do so.

Getting into Business

Service-leavers might well have attained practical skills that lend themselves to setting up home improvement businesses but such a move comes with risk. In fact, setting up a business from scratch is always a challenge but some routes to success are more efficient than others.

Looking at the issue through the eyes of a consumer for a moment makes the whole idea clearer. Letting a person into your family home requires you to have trust in them and their business. If they or their workmanship aren’t up to scratch, you’ll want some form of recourse and this may lead you to pre-select a recognised ‘brand’ rather than a ‘one man band’ outfit – and this isn’t helped by the array of TV programmes and so on based around fixing the mistakes of crooks and cowboys that also happen to inhabit the industry (just as they do any other). In other words, it could take years for you to gain the reputation of a local hero – and meanwhile, your cash-flow might start to splutter.

The answer might be to buy into a franchise operation where you gain the rights to use a well known and trusted brand name. This means that your reputation is already assured and also comes with the benefits of a ready-made business plan and support including kit, brand exposure and crucially, training – in how to carry out the job their way, using their methods and to their standards.

A range of options

A quick search of available home improvement franchises uncovers a huge range of different options including (but not limited to): renewables and energy saving products, oven cleaning, fire/flood restoration, pest control, driveways, disinfection (presumably aimed at landlords that have particularly ‘sticky’ tenants), kitchens, general gardening, specialist gardening – such as lawn care, window shutters, heating and fire and security alarm systems.

What may surprise you is that there are relatively few ‘all-rounder’ franchises offering handyman-like services. They do exist but on the whole these don’t tend to fit in with formulaic franchise models that are developed around providing one type of service specifically. A generalised handyman service is largely too broad to train to a particular standard.

Whilst you may think that this would be a disadvantage, it fits in with the way that people looking for a particular service search for tradespeople. If your roof is leaking, you are far more likely to look up ‘roofer’ than ‘handyman’. People have specific results in mind and are looking for specialists that are able to carry out particular tasks thoroughly rather than relying on somebody who knows a bit about this and a bit about that. Having a refined skillset in the modern era is no bad thing, even though it will sometimes be advantageous to have overlapping skills where say, plumbing meets electricity and so on.

Support

As with any business, ‘the skill’ isn’t going to be enough. Although the franchisor will support your venture, either you or your business partner(s) are going to have to, at some point, deal with customers. Given that your business is domestic-focused (as oppose to business-to-business) that will mean that you’ll need to adopt something approaching a ‘bedside manner’. To a certain extent, you’ll need to be able to mind your p’s and q’s if you’re going to work in peoples’ homes.

Service-leavers are often targeted by franchise operations looking to expand. They are seen, quite rightly, as people that have been well trained in being able to follow a plan or a formula. This is a quality valued by the franchisor above and beyond any particular practical skills they have also picked up or are qualified to practice since training is part of the package with any good franchised business.