Best Software for Handyman Business
It’s a tough business. You have to keep your truck running, your equipment cleaned and maintained, and have a little capital on hand to meet customers’ needs. While you’re building your handyman business, learning how to fix homes, and being the guy or gal everyone calls when they need a job done right, it’s a good idea to have the best software for handyman business management.
How To Run Your Handyman Business Entirely From Your SmartPhone
Software and apps can make running your handyman business much easier.
In fact, since I started my handyman business, I’ve operated almost entirely from my phone, only using my desktop for monthly accounting and marketing purposes.
When it comes to managing customers, quoting jobs, taking notes, tracking payments, taking credit cards, or scheduling, it’s all done on this amazing little device they call an iPhone.
No paper what. so. ever. I like it that way. And the best part is that all of this software is so affordable that anybody can use it.
Not only does this technology save me some serious paperwork headaches, it adds value to the customer and makes my business more efficient. I’ve had several customers tell me they like working with me just because I’m tech savvy.
So, if you’re still walking around with a notepad, a schedule book, and a rolex of your customers, it’s time to upgrade. Here’s how to do it so you can save time and look more professional.
Step #1: Get A Smartphone
Personally, I’m a fan of the iPhone. It’s easy to use and you’ll rarely find an app that isn’t on the iPhone, whereas with other phones they don’t have as many apps.
Based on this article in Forbes.com, developers make more money developing apps for iOS. Since it’s more profitable to create apps for the Apple platform, it stands to reason that more quality apps will be released for the iPhone.
Now, my intention isn’t to sell Apple phones. Any smartphone will work. But if you’re trying to figure out which one to get, go iPhone.
Step #2: Choose A Customer Management Software
This is the most important and helpful app of all for simplifying your operation. A good customer management system will not only keep track of your customers, but it can even keep track of you with cool features like notifications that remind you of upcoming appointments and even give you estimated drive times based on the current levels of traffic!
- Track customer information for future reference and easy access.
- Send pre-formatted quotes to customers via e-mail (no need to build your own quote templates)
- Send receipts to customers via email.
- Take payment via email.
- Track paid and unpaid jobs.
- Keep a list of invoices and customer history.
- Schedule jobs.
- Manage Appointments.
Ideally you want an app that will do all of these things in one to keep things simple.
There are two apps that I have used and recommend. ServiceCall and Breezeworks. Unfortunately, ServiceCall is no longer available. Breezeworks is the better option in most cases anyway, and especially if you plan on hiring employees.
(Available for iPhone and Android devices.)
Breezeworks has all the functionality you need to run your business from one simple app.
For example, you can sync it with Quickbooks and even take credit cards directly through the app.
There are several other bells and whistles that can make running your business easier as well. Go here to download it and check them out. You’ll even 50% off your first 3 months.
There is a small monthly cost for this software, but it is the best overall software I’ve found so far.
Here’s another article that goes in more depth about different software options that other pro handymen use.
Step #3: Get a Credit Card App
Credit cards apps are awesome because they turn your phone into a credit card processing machine. There are several to choose from and two of the most common are Square and PayPal.
Personally, I’ve used square because it works and I haven’t had the need to try anything else. All I have to do is plug in the reader to my headphone jack, take a payment, and within a day the money is in my bank account.
However, there are many other options.
Square is easy to setup and the app is free. You just need to pay a small processing fee (less than 3%) each time you take a credit card.
Some handymen don’t like to take credit cards because they don’t like to pay the fee. As a one-man operation you really don’t have to accept cards, but some customers prefer it over checks or cash.
Step #4: Get Familiar With Note Taking Apps
Just like everything else, there are many apps to choose from for taking notes. I use a combination of the native iPhone note app and Evernote.
Evernote is awesome because it automatically syncs with your home computer, tablet, or laptop so you can see your notes on any device. That means you can add a note on your phone while on the job, then pull it up on your computer later that night while writing up an estimate.
This is probably one of the most valuable free apps out there. There are alternatives, though, so go with whatever you like.
- Take job notes during a quote. (you can even include pictures in the notes)
- Keep a running list of supplies needed from the store.
- Keep a running list of customers to follow up with.
- Create checklists for common tasks.
Step #5: Download Google Maps
I always think it’s funny when customers start explaining how to get to their houses, like I’m really going to write down directions when I’ve got a GPS in my pocket.
As far as apps for navigation, Google Maps is my go to. However, I’ve also been using Waze lately since it helps me avoid traffic. If you live in a big city and often deal with traffic, I would recommend using Waze.
You can just use the native iPhone Maps app, but after showing up in a completely wrong part of town once or twice, you’ll probably take my advice and download Google Maps.
- Guided navigation to your customers’ homes.
- Finding local hardware stores.
- Finding local restaurants for lunch.
Step #6: Setup Your E-mail
I’m not sure if being able to check your e-mail from your phone is a blessing or a curse. But, many customers want to communicate via e-mail instead of over the phone so you’ll want to be able to check it from your phone.
If you’re using an iPhone (or any smartphone), you can set it up to sync with multiple e-mail addresses.
So, if you have separate personal and business e-mail accounts you can have them both download to your phone.
Essential handyman software features
There are five main categories of software that most handymen will want.
- Estimating and Invoicing – For sending professional estimates and invoices with ease and even collecting payment via credit card directly from those invoices.
- Customer management – For storing customer information such as contact info and past jobs.
- Scheduling – For keeping track of where you (and your team if you have one) need to be and when.
- Credit card processing – For processing credit cards.
- Accounting – For bookkeeping, profit and expense analysis, and staying organized, so tax time isn’t a nightmare.
You could use endless app combinations to accomplish all of these tasks, and some apps will handle multiple. For example, two of the apps I talk about below can handle everything except for accounting. Most accounting software can handle everything except scheduling. So, you don’t need five different pieces of software to run your handyman business efficiently.
Lessons from the pros
In April of 2021, I emailed some of my email subscribers (a mix of current pros and people who want to start a business) and asked them what business software they use and why. 105 people responded. 85 of those responses were valid, meaning they were currently running a business.
This is a relatively small sample size, but the feedback I received was detailed and informative. Some people wrote several hundred words sharing their journey to find the perfect software. Despite being a small sample size, I found the data insightful and useful. I think you will too.
Here are a few takeaways…
Everyone’s needs are different.
There is a huge variety of software combinations that handymen use. Some use the latest and most streamlined software (listed below), while some don’t use any software at all. I had at least two handymen say they just write things down on paper or use old school paper planners. Some don’t even have a smartphone.
According to my survey, 16% of handymen don’t use any software at all.
Then, other people don’t use software specifically created for the handyman business but instead rely on software like Excel, Google Calendar, Pages, Word, and other common software that comes pre-loaded on most computers.
This surprised me since many of these options are tedious and inefficient to work with. But I think there are two reasons for this. First, some simply aren’t aware of what’s available. Second, some aren’t interested in changing how they’ve been doing it for years.
Either way, I was surprised to see how many people are using different apps in different ways.
Most handymen use accounting software.
By far, the most common category of software mentioned was accounting software, with the majority using Quickbooks.
32% of handymen said they used some accounting software. Of those, 59% are using Quickbooks.
I assume the percentage of handymen using accounting software is actually higher than 32%, though, since some respondents simply didn’t mention it because they thought I was asking about only handyman-specific software and didn’t think their accounting software was relevant.
Syncing with Quickbooks is an important feature.
Several handymen mentioned that they liked the handyman estimating software they use because it syncs with Quickbooks, allowing them to save time on bookkeeping. I always wondered if this feature was actually worth the setup time, and apparently, it is.
If you’re a solo handyman, you can get by with less.
Some of the handymen who responded had tried several more advanced handyman-specific apps, only to decide to downgrade to simpler options (from Markate to Joist, for example). This was because they weren’t using all of the features they were paying for. They mentioned that if they had employees, more advanced features would be essential but overkill for a one-man operation.
The top 5 MOST POPULAR handyman business software options
Based on respondent feedback, here are the top five apps that are actually used by pro handymen every day, starting with the most common and working down. Of course, there are many more, but these are by far the most common based on my survey.
#1 – Quickbooks
19% of respondents said they used Quickbooks. Some pros use it simply for accounting and bookkeeping purposes, while others also use invoicing features to bill their clients.
Pricing: Starts at $25 per month for a basic subscription.
#2 – Wave
This is another accounting software that has one huge advantage – it’s FREE. 12% of respondents said they used Wave, and one mentioned how it’s almost exactly like Quickbooks. The only difference is the mobile app isn’t quite as good. Some mentioned they also used this for invoicing and estimates.
Pricing: FREE (They make money on credit card processing fees and payroll)
#3 – Markate
This is an app designed specifically for running a handyman or other home service business. It’s designed as an all-in-one option, and it has a wide range of features. It handles scheduling, custom estimates and invoices, field tech management, email marketing, and more. Plus, it syncs with Quickbooks.
11% of respondents said they use Markate. All of the feedback about Markate was positive, with one respondent mentioning how he had tried everything and then said, “I finally found the best one by far called Markate.”
Pricing: Starts at $29.95 per month (or $25.95 is paid yearly) with available add-ons.
#4 – Breezeworks
This is another app designed specifically for running a handyman or other home service business and is comparable to Markate. It also has a wide range of features and does pretty much everything except accounting. And yes, it syncs with Quickbooks.
9% of respondents said they use Breezeworks, and the feedback was also very positive.
Pricing: starts at $25.59/month for Breezeworks Solo and $33.59/month for Team, but you can use this link (affiliate link) to save 50% on your first three months.
#5 – Joist
Joist is primarily an estimating and invoicing app. While Breezeworks and Markate handle scheduling and have lots of other useful business growth features and automation, Joist just focuses on doing one thing well: creating custom estimates and invoices. For some smaller operations, that is all they need.
9% of respondents said they use Joist, and all of the feedback was positive.
Pricing: Joist Basic is FREE. Joist Pro is $12/month.
BEST OVERALL handyman business software
While Breezeworks and Markate are both very similar and awesome apps, Breezeworks wins by a small margin since it’s slightly cheaper, and I can personally attest to it since I’ve actually used it.
You can use Breezeworks for everything from estimating to scheduling and even set up automatic text reminders to customers to remind them of upcoming appointments. It will track all of your previous jobs and customer information and even alert you when it’s time to leave. There are a lot more features I could mention, but I’m not going to for the sake of brevity. It’s a great app that can be used for a solo handyman or a business owner with several techs in the field.
You can save 50% on your first three months of Breezeworks through this link.
Markate wins an honorable mention here since it also received positive feedback and is very similar to Breezeworks. I’ll be testing Markate soon, and I’ll update this article once I’ve personally used it.
BEST FREE software for a handyman business
Best free #1 – Joist Basic
Joist Basic is an estimating software for sending custom estimates and invoices, allowing you to keep track of your customer information. The Basic option is great to test out the software, but if you want to add your logo to your estimates and use some of the other features, you’ll need to fork over $12 per month.
Best free #2 – Wave
Wave is free accounting software that makes money from credit card processing fees when you invoice your customer using their system. Since you have to pay credit card processing fees anyway, this is a great option for any pros on a budget.
Some pros use a combo of Joist and Wave, and some just use one or the other. It’s up to you and your needs, but it’s pretty cool you can use such powerful software for no cost.
Best free #3 – Square
Square is primarily a point of sale software that allows you to accept credit cards, but they’ve recently upgraded their software to include other features like scheduling and analytics. The software is free, and they make money off of credit card processing fees (which you have to pay no matter what system you use to process credit cards).
BEST handyman ESTIMATING software
Winner – Joist Pro
This software is designed to do one thing really well: create and send custom estimates and invoices. It has all kinds of features that help make this easier and faster, so if you are sending a lot of estimates, this is an excellent software to test for your handyman or other construction business.
Best handyman ACCOUNTING software
Winner – Quickbooks
It’s hard to beat software that has been a market leader for fifteen-plus years. Although Wave sounds like an excellent option based on the feedback from pros and the fact that it’s free, Quickbooks is still the most popular and most refined option. It’s the one that most people use, and it’s most likely what your bookkeeper uses if you decide to hire one down the road. Based on the feedback from my readers, it also has a much superior mobile app compared to Wave.
And that’s it!
As you can see, running your business on your phone is simple and cost effective. Obviously, if you have employees things get a little more complicated. But for the one-man show, it’s really easy to manage your business straight from your smart phone.
Do you want to start your own handyman business? First thing would be to prepare your business’s startup capital. Having the right tools for the job is essential in order to make sure that your job will get done smoothly.