The economic downturn may have been the best thing to happen to Craig Postlewait’s business. Knowing he needed a new strategy to survive the slowdown, Postlewait started a handyman service. “A lot of people were competing for the larger jobs, but no one was handling what the market was offering,” he says.

Smart. But even Postlewait probably never guessed just how smart.

Today, he says 25 to 30% of his large-project customers start out with the handyman service. “People get comfortable with us through the handyman service and when they’re ready to do the big project, they already know us.” It works the other way as well: larger project customers end up using the handyman service.

But whether the project is big or small, Postlewait never just sends a person out to do a job. “I make an appointment and I go look at it,” he says. “Some might say, ‘That’s crazy!’ but what I find is the whole purpose is for me to build a relationship, and I can’t do that if I just send a guy out. I find a lot of clients don’t even know what they really want. Sometimes they don’t even know what the options are.”


-- Postlewait says the most critical piece of his business is his full-time office manager who handles customer communication. “People are used to not being communicated with well in this business,” he says. “I hear a lot of guys say, ‘I can’t afford an office manager.’ But if they actually saw the value that person brings by taking care of clients—that’s the best relationship you can have.”

-- Postlewait has gone to a four-day workweek as a way to attract and maintain top talent without having to pay top dollar. Rather than 5 workdays, crews typically work 4 10-hours days. “People like to do things other than just work,” he says. “The thing they can’t find in this industry usually is extra time.”

-- Pendulum relies on good, old-fashioned lawn signs for much of its lead generation. As soon as crews arrive, signs go up. In some neighborhoods there can be eight to 10 signs out at the same time. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘I don’t even have to check your references. You’re working for six of my neighbors and I’ve been in their houses. I know who picky they are, so if you’re doing work in all their houses, you must be the right guy.’”