Small Business Tax Center
Small Business Ideas, Grants &
Plans to Start & Run a Business:

Small Business Grants
Network in Cyberschmooz Community Ask Questions Questions and Answers Share Tips Small Business Ideas List Your Business Business Advice from Idea Cafe Experts Coffee Talk with Experts Starting A Business Business Plan Biz Planning | Sample Plans Small Business Ideas Idea Name Your Biz Name Plan Your Biz Plan Financing $ Starting a Business Do It! Running your Business Marketing Tips Promotional Merchandise Marketing Tips Marketing | Sales | Customers Human Resources HR | Employees | Contractors Legal Forms & Tax Information Legal | Biz Forms Managing a Business Managing | Operations
Financing Resources Financing Your Business E Commerce & Webhosting eCommerce Take Out Info Trade Publications FREE Trade Publications Business Books Biz Books Your Own Business Small Business News Small Biz News Gen X Biz Gen X Biz Work at Home Work @ Home Business Information The Fridge - Biz Info on Ice Destress Send Awards Send Awards & Greetings Yoga At Your Desk Yoga @ Your Desk Fun Guide Guide to Find FUN Online About Idea Cafe Press Idea Cafe has received Idea Cafe in the News Idea Cafe's Kudos Kudos for Idea Cafe Advertise on Idea Cafe Advertise on Idea Cafe Privacy Policy Privacy Policy Contact Idea Cafe Contact Idea Cafe Link to Idea Cafe Link to/from Idea Cafe Join Idea Cafe
Search Idea Cafe Site Directory Site Map Online directory to business resources Biz Web Guide

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

color business bar

Featured Biz Question

Hi, I used to own an apartment building and there were times when I would have used an apartment repair and preparation business. My question is, does anyone out there do this kind of work, and if so, how do you approach it? Thanks in advance.

Answer from our Guest Expert Mark Bower of Aberdeen Mobile Home Repair

Rental Repair Business

Dear Idea Cafe Schmoozer,

Part of my construction business does involve doing repairs on rental units. However, working for landlords and apartment owners isn't all it's cracked up to be. Grab a cup of coffee and I'll tell you my story.

For some reason, most folks who want to become freelance "handymen" or start their own repair business, often think of offering their services to landlords. While there's nothing wrong with that, let me just say it's a real tough way to enter the market. Now I realize you were an apartment owner in the past, but for the benefit of others who weren't, here's a quick lesson on working for landlords from a freelancer's perspective.

Working With Landlords

You have two types of landlords -- owners and managers. If you're dealing directly with owners, they generally own only a few rental units and like to do a majority of the work themselves. They only call in a handyman if they have to -- and they call because they're either swamped with work and need help catching up, or they have a job that's big and extensive or beyond their expertise. If any owner has a great amount of rental units, they then normally have a hired handyman on staff and only call a contractor for the same reasons just mentioned.

If you're not dealing with the owners, then you're usually dealing with a rental manager. A rental manager may manage property for one owner, or for many. If he manages enough rental units, he also probably has his own handyman on staff. Otherwise, they call a handyman for almost everything unless the manager has a brother-in-law in the business which he's trying to keep happy. If your goal is to do apartment repairs, then contacting rental managers may bear more fruit than contacting owners. Owners who hire managers are used to being billed for anything that needs done.

Perfectionists Need Not Apply

Owners and managers want the job done right, but they also want a simple, inexpensive solution. They also want you to remember that time is money. I have a father-in-law who likes to do handyman repairs, but he's a real perfectionist. He'd never make it working for landlords. Landlords don't want a perfectionist, unless you're working in the Trump Tower or some other high-class building. For instance, if you're called to repair a hole in a wall caused by a door handle, the perfectionist would go through the steps of patching and painting. The efficient apartment handyman would purchase
an oversized handle stop and stick it over the hole and be done in 5 minutes. It'll look great and you'll be commended for your efficient work and for coming up with a solution for preventing it from happening again.

Several years ago, I had a manager call me about a leaking garage roof. The roof was in bad shape, but the owner didn't want to spend a lot of money. His tenant was on the verge of leaving and the manager needed a solution fast. The manager had already called a roofer, and got an estimate for '"doing it right." Needless to say, the owner wasn't willing to spend that kind of money on an old garage. So I told the manager that if he could spend $400, I'd give him a new roof, including labor and materials. The owner gladly agreed to $400. Several days later, I gave him a new roof -- I simply screwed on 7 or 8 sheets of corrugated metal over the old roof and it hasn't leaked since. It wasn't perfection, but the owner was ecstatically happy and I made the manager look real good. Plus I made about $200 in the two hours it took me to do the job. I'm now their #1 go-to guy for handyman work.

Stay efficient, do it right, be smart and your phone will continue ringing. But beware of the downsides of the biz.... continued

Page 1 - 2


Small Business Tax CenterIdea Cafe HomeSign UpBiz Grant CenterCyberSchmoozCoffee Talk with ExpertsPeople in Biz ProfilesStarting Your BizBiz PlanningRunning Your BizFREE Trade PublicationsMarketingFinancing Your BizHuman ResourcesLegal & Biz FormsManaging Your BizeCommerceYou and Your BizGen XWork@HomeThe FridgeDe-StressSend an AwardSend an eGreetingYoga @ Your DeskWeb GuideIdea Cafe in the NewsAbout Idea CafeAdvertise on Idea CafeContact UsPrivacy PolicySite MapSmall Biz News

Copyright 1995-2024, Idea Cafe Inc. Downloads are for personal use only, not for resale to others, and may not be reprinted in any form without written permission from Idea Cafe Inc.

DISCLAIMER: We hope whatever you find on this site is helpful, but be cautioned that it may not apply to your own situation, or be totally current at any given time. Idea Cafe Inc. and all of its current and past experts, sponsors, advertisers, agents, contractors and advisors disclaim all warranties with regard to anything found anywhere on this family of websites, quoted from, or sent from Idea Cafe. and its related sites, publications and companies. We also take no responsibility for comments published by others on these pages.

TRADEMARKS: The following are Registered Trademarks or Servicemarks of DevStart, Inc.: Idea Cafe®, Online Coffee Break®, The Small Business Gathering Place®, Take out Info®, Biz Bar & Grill®, Complaint-O-Meter®, A Fun Approach to Serious Business™, CyberSchmooz™, and BizCafe™.



About the Expert

Mark Bower
Owner of Aberdeen Home Repair

Mark Bower
Mark is also a lecturer and consultant. He spends hours a week reading and learning about his industry and about running a business. He strives to be the best, to always be on top of his game. more