Chicago, IL (PRWEB) May 31, 2013
Janet Asbury, a software industry saleswoman, was ready to take charge of her career. So, she launched her own Handyman Matters franchise in 2004 and sold in 2011. Within 6 months, her Chicago-based business was profitable, and Janet quickly grew to a 25-person operation with $1.7 million in revenue. The first female-owned Handyman Matters franchise, Janet’s operation was a multi-year winner of the coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award and a winner of multiple awards at the Handyman Matters National Franchise Convention.
Janet Asbury had enough with the software industry. A former PeopleSoft Sales Consultant, Janet watched her industry become commoditized and her job security become uncertain. For years, Oracle had been trying to take over PeopleSoft, and Janet was never sure if she would have a job in three months. She was ready to strike out alone.
Working with a franchise broker, Janet discovered Handyman Matters, a leader in the home repair and home improvement industry renowned for its commitment to customer service. A homeowner since age 25, Janet’s experience with home repair had been less than enjoyable. “Every time I had work done it was really intimidating,” says Janet. “I thought a Handyman Matters franchise would be successful.”
Janet bought her Handyman Matters franchise in 2003 and launched her business in early 2004. She began with three full-time employees and operated out of her two-bedroom loft in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. The first female Handyman Matters franchise owner, Janet brought an MBA and years of sales, marketing, and finance experience to her business. But, she was new to the home improvement industry.
“The support from Handyman Matters was great,” says Janet. “I talked to the people in Colorado every day, multiple times a day. I felt like they were there for me every step of the way.”
Janet described her business’s growth as “a steady ramp up.” Within 6 months, her franchise was profitable, and Handyman Matters Chicago had outgrown her Wrigleyville loft. Janet began to hire more employees, and the corporate team in Denver supported her with technical interviews, skillset tests, and ongoing training for her team members. “If you have a service, the greatest challenge is your employees,” says Janet. “It is challenging to find tradesmen who do great work and communicate well with clients.”
The handyman industry has always been notorious for poor customer service, unreliable communication, and unsatisfactory results. Handyman Matters, however, flips this paradigm. Franchises guarantee their work with a one-year warranty, ask customers for approval before adjusting anticipated costs, never ask for advance deposits on small to medium jobs, and notify customers if craftsmen are running late. With this model, Janet turned the handyman stereotype on its head and gained distinct advantages in a highly competitive market.
On a day-to-day basis, Janet handled operations, marketing, front office work, finance, and accounting. Her field supervisor managed craftsmen out-and-about and made sure the handymen took on the jobs that they could do best. “People who do well in that environment have the “Swiss Army” skillset,” says Janet. “It’s a job for people and tradesmen who love variety.” Her education and experience in the software industry gave Janet the wide-ranging skills she needed to take on the challenges of entrepreneurship. The support from the Handyman Matters’ team in Colorado helped Janet take on new and unfamiliar aspects of the home repair industry.
As a woman, Janet faced the extra challenge of entering a traditionally male-dominated industry. However, this was one of her greatest advantages. “I saw myself as our typical client,” says Janet. A subset of clients liked using a woman-owned business because they wanted to work with someone “who understood how emotional the project is for a woman.”
In 2007, Handyman Matters Chicago continued to grow despite the crippling recession. “We had some of our best years during the crisis,” says Janet. Before the downturn, people often bought new homes rather than repair their current homes. After the crisis hit, “people were more likely to stay and make improvements,” says Janet. Builders did poorly, but Handyman Matters Chicago thrived.
Janet says her franchise distinguished itself from the local competition in several key ways: “We became the anti-contractor.” Handyman Matters Chicago’s user-friendly website, strong presence on Google, and responsive customer service exceeded client expectations. When Chicagoans called the office, they would get someone on the phone that was polite and helpful, rather than condescending. “Craftsmen showed up early or on-time and wore booties,” explains Janet. “We tried to be the opposite of what people expected.”
Originally, Janet planned to grow her franchise for 5 years and then sell, but she chose to stay in the business for longer. “It turned into everything I wanted it to be. I enjoyed the experience and especially the team,” says Janet.
Janet, however, eventually wanted a change, and by 2011 she was ready for the next challenge. She put her Handyman Matters franchise on the market to see what offers might come in—it sold within 3 weeks.
Today, Janet is evaluating her next step, and enjoying the time off from running Handyman Matters Chicago. Looking back, Janet remembers some of her toughest projects with pride.
According to Janet, a client from South America once bought a very large house in downtown Chicago. Over the holidays one year, the client’s family travelled to their home country—and turned the heating off at their Chicago home. On Christmas day, Janet received an emergency call. The family had returned, and all the pipes in the house had frozen. “Cabinets were falling off the walls,” says Janet, “and the entire house was in pieces. It was a huge, tragic situation. And we were there for them.” Janet and her team tried to get the family back into their house as soon as possible.
“It was a great team that we built,” said Janet. “It was fun being the underdog and it was gratifying to help clients.”
About Handyman Matters
Voted “Best Handyman Franchise” by Entrepreneur Magazine, Handyman Matters has completed over 338,000 projects with quality and affordability always in mind. For the last 15 years, Handyman Matters has provided top-notch service, transparent pricing, and the industry’s finest craftsmen from over 122 franchise locations in 33 states and 3 countries. Specializing in small to medium-size jobs and both residential and commercial services, Handyman Matters’ professionals do everything from small drywall patches to full bathroom remodeling, surround sound installations, and hardwood flooring. Founder Andy Bell, his wife Collette, and a passionate team of experts continue to redefine the home repair industry from the company headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado. To learn more about Handyman Matters, visit http://www.handymanmatters.com/