Handymen Get an Image Makeover

Companies are marketing a new kind of handymanForget the old image of the scruffy plumber (with the waistband falling down a little too low), who has shown up to fix the leaky faucet. A new kind of Mr. Fix-It has emerged and home service companies are not shy about touting their friendliness, education and even-- their attractiveness.

"On Craigslist, you can get someone for $25, but you don't know who you are letting in your door," says Clayton Jarvinen, who started the Chicago-area handyman service, Call Clayton. "No one promises that you are getting a clean-cut, good-looking guy who knows what he's doing."

But Jarvinen does promise it. On his Web site, the entrepreneur promotes his entourage of "handy man candy" that can do anything from set-up your cable, hang art and mirrors, and put up holiday decorations.

For first-time clients, Call Clayton's rates start at $65 per hour, but other good-thinking services are offering up friendly, manicured handyman as low as $25 to $40 per hour. The typical uniform for these services is not out of the ordinary --jeans and a t-shirt, but customers can also expect cleanliness and good-hygiene.

While television hunks like HGTV's Matthew Finlason and ABC's Ty Pennington have upped the expectations for the everyday fix-it man, others say that clients are now demanding it, too.

Dave Iwaszkiewicz, a co-founder of the New York-based College Educated Movers, says the name of his company was initially a little tongue-in-cheek about his experience of spending thousands of dollars on a college education to end up doing manual labor.

Now, after a few years in business, he admits the perception is beneficial as he's realized customers want mature, reliable help when they look to move. "Customers like to relate to their movers and feel safe knowing who their inviting into their home and letting carry their $1,500 T.V.," he said in an e-mail.

Others express that many times this comfort comes from knowing what your handyman looks like, as well as knowing his (or maybe even her) credentials.

In Los Angeles, Mike Sullivan gained the reputation as the "cute handyman" around the star-studded city and saw the opportunity to recruit struggling actors and models like himself for his home-service business, Handy Hunks.

"Even getting a waitering job [in LA these days] is hard," he says. But Sullivan shares that having a team of workers that know how to get the job done is a first priority. "The guys being attractive is just an added bonus."

He hopes to have his Web site set-up soon with pictures and descriptions of his employees, so customers can "pick their handyman."

These new companies almost completely eliminate the chance that the stereotypical fix-it-man of yesteryear will show up at your door. It certainly makes waiting for the plumber a much more tolerable task.

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