The Mr. Handyman franchise is looking for a startup in Rhode Island

Mr. Handyman wants to come into Rhode Island.

August 26, 2008 // Franchising.com // The franchised handyman service, which says it is the largest employer of handymen (and women) in the country, with more than 1,000 "technicians," hopes to establish three franchises in Rhode Island over the next three years. The seven-year-old company, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has 290 franchises around the country, including locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Todd Recknagel, president and CEO of Mr. Handyman, said the company is beginning its search for people interested in establishing Mr. Handyman franchises in the state. Although it's possible that an existing New England franchise could expand into the state, Recknagel said he would prefer to find a Rhode Islander to establish the business. Average cost to open a Mr. Handyman franchise is $110,000. The company also gets a 7-percent cut of franchise sales. Recknagel estimated the Rhode Island franchises would each employ about four handymen (or women), not including the franchise owner.

Recknagel said the real estate slump actually helps Mr. Handyman franchises. Because people are not building new homes or funding major renovation projects, he said, they concentrate more on maintaining their existing property, which is where Mr. Handyman comes in. He said company sales are up 11 percent over the same period as last year.

"Demand is off the charts. Home maintenance, service and repair is a $40-billion [business] category," he said. Recknagel said the company is designed to deal with all those to-do project lists that are taped onto so many refrigerators.

According to the company Web site mrhandyman.com, common jobs include tub and shower caulking, gutter cleaning, tile work, carpentry, weatherproofing homes, pressure cleaning, assembling household products, and repairs to walls, ceiling and decks. Recknagel said the company will work on some roofing projects, depending on the size of the job and how height of the structure.

Recknagel said the franchises do not undertake jobs that would require workers to be licensed by the state. In Rhode Island, that would mean Mr. Handyman employees could not undertake any major plumbing or electrical work.

Recknagel said cost for Mr. Handyman services averages about $80 an hour, which may seem like a lot. But Recknagel said Mr. Handyman employees are highly efficient, and might knock off 20 household projects in two or three hours. Recknagel said between 60 percent and 70 percent of Mr. Handyman's clients are repeat customers. "Once people use us, they continue to use us," he said.

The success of Mr. Handyman, Recknagel said, indicates that many people don't have the time, or the expertise, for household projects. "A previous generation could fix things for themselves. Now they can't do it, and what's more, they don't want to," he said.

Besides homes, he said, Mr. Handyman is also available to perform maintenance and repair work for commercial clients, ranging from restaurants to doctor's offices to strip malls.

ABOUT MR. HANDYMAN:

Mr. Handyman is a sibling brand within the Service Brands International, Inc., family of brands. M. Handyman is continually ranked among the Top 150 (128) concepts in Entrepreneur magazine's annual Franchise 500Ò, and is ranked the number one handyman franchise in its category. Additionally, the brand is recognized as one of the top home-based businesses, and fastest growing for 2008. There are more than 300 Mr. Handyman territories in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Handyman recently signed an agreement to expand into China. Mr. Handyman world headquarters: 3948 Ranchero Dr., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48108. 1-800-886-6559. www.mrhandyman.com.

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