As demand for your company’s services is likely to increase over the next year(s), many of you will be faced with a choice. Do you keep on trying to be all things to all people or do you narrow the range of project types/size that you do?

We chose to do the latter. We stopped doing small projects, say those under $10,000 or even $15,000, because our method of planning how to get a project done was simply not a good fit for those types of projects. That’s a change from the early 1990s, when we would do “everything from hanging a picture to building your home.”

The only folks we would do small projects for were past clients who wanted to pay us 50% gross profit. If they did not, that was fine, too.

The two key points here are:

  1. We and our past clients had already trained one another how to work together. It is not worth the effort of doing that simply to do a small project for someone you have never worked for before.
  2. Small jobs need to be sold at a higher margin because they consume more time than anyone ever anticipates.

If a past client wanted us to do a small project, we would tell them they would have to wait until we had an opening during which it could be done. And that opening might not appear for several months.
Over time, the range of size and types of projects we did get somewhat narrower. Our website ultimately did have dropdown menus on the Contact page which listed the towns we worked in, the types of projects we did and so on. That helped narrow down the types of inquiries.

If we needed to make a referral to another contractor who did small jobs, we would suggest the potential client go to our website of our local remodelers’ association chapter and also suggest they contact the lumberyard we used. Those were good sources for handyman-type folks. If we did recommend a specific provider I would ask that the potential client to call us to let us know how his/her experience with the provider turned out.

Hang in there. You are in a period of transition. One day, not doing small jobs will be business as usual.