In 1997, after a fifteen-year career in the food and
beverage industry, Andy Bell decided it was time to look for
a career that offered a better work/life balance. Even as he
and his wife Colette were starting a family, Andy also embarked on
a career as “Swamp Boy,” a one-man operation which saw him
repairing swamp coolers, a skill he’d picked up during his years of
What he quickly learned was that homeowners were impressed by
the mere fact that he showed up on time with a professional,
courteous demeanor. It was apparent there was hugely
underserved market in the home
repair and remodel industry—a need for consistent and
reliable service conducted by trusted, friendly craftsmen with good
From this realization was born Handyman Matters, a single home
repair business conducted out of Andy’s and his wife’s
basement. “The first and most important key to our success
was simply showing up,” Andy declares. “That’s how bad the
reputation in our industry had become. “The fact that we were
there, and when we said we would be there made a huge impression on
The single business, begun in 1998, was so successful so quickly
that the idea to open a second location was a logical
decision. Then, with two offices working overtime to
accommodate customers, Andy decided it was time to look into
franchising the business, providing the blueprint that had been so
successful for him to other individuals looking to run a business
utilizing the same principles of respect and customer
Now 18 years into the home repair and remodel franchise
business, Handyman Matters is an industry leader with over 135
locations in 25 states.
Franchise Expo: Tell us about the Handyman
Andy Bell: Our goal is to change the
face of this industry to a more positive one, with marketing safety
and reliability as our #1 job.
FE: How and when did you become involved with
AB: Originally I entered the field with
a one-man operation called “Swamp Boy” in 1997. Having come
from the food and beverage industry, which requires a bit of
multi-tasking and multiple skill sets, I had become well-acquainted
with the necessity of repairing swamp coolers in the restaurants I
managed. Eventually when I decided to leave that field and
start my own business, I settled on a swamp cooler repair business.
Almost immediately, I found clients asking me to do
additional home repair projects, which led to the recognition that
there was an enormous customer base underserved by an industry with
a justifiably poor reputation. The following year, I began
Handyman Express, which transitioned into Handyman Matters.
FE: What was your background prior to joining
Handyman Matters franchise?
AB: I had worked in the food and
beverage industry for 17 years.
FE: What are some of the advantages in being a
Handyman Matters franchisee?
AB: The name comes with a reputation for
doing quality work and operating by a set of inviolable ethical
standards. More than fifteen years of working within the home
repair and remodel industry has allowed us to establish proven
policies and procedures and to incorporate proprietary software
that allows franchise owners to begin operating with confidence
immediately. We provide experienced franchise support
directors who are readily available to assist both new and
experienced owners when questions or concerns arise.
FE: Who is your ideal franchisee?
The ideal franchise owner is that
individual who comes to us understanding that a successful
requires a balance between work life and home
life. I want owners who believe in the Handyman Matters
mission and values, and who will follow the simple doctrine of
earning and keeping their customers’ and their employees’ trust.
We provide the road map; all a successful franchisee needs to
do is to follow it.
FE: Tell us a little about the home
AB: Unfortunately, but rightfully so,
our industry has a shaky reputation, at best. Somewhere along
the way, it became “the norm” for craftsmen to keep their customers
waiting or to not show up at all. It’s “hit or miss” as to
whether a homeowner will feel comfortable allowing workmen into
their house, and the resulting work runs the gamut from excellent
to utterly unacceptable. Fortunately, though, as with most
things in life, there is a natural attrition rate—survival of the
fittest, so to speak. Prior to the economic recession that
began in 2009, Handyman Matters was one of thirteen national home
repair franchise opportunities. As the country finally began
to emerge from these extended financial woes around 2012, only five
of these franchises remained, and Handyman Matters now leads the
FE: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve
learned in growing this franchise?
AB: We cannot rest on our laurels.
Like most fields of endeavor, the home repair/remodel field
is a living, breathing thing, and it faces new challenges every
day. Technology advances at an astonishing rate, and we
cannot simply keep pace; we have to stay one step ahead of it, if
not three! I’ve learned we must take risks, and we’ve taken
a lot of them. They’ve led to spectacular successes, and to a
few resounding failures. But I learn something from every
mistake, and in fact, some of those have taught us greater lessons
than we’ve learned from our victories.
FE: What advice do you have for someone looking
to acquire a franchise?
AB: As I said earlier, we’re looking for
people who want to strike a balance between a work life and a home
life because these are typically the happiest, more successful
individuals. Come with an open mind, a determination to hire
the best office staff and craftsmen and to treat them with respect,
as well as your customers. I want owners who are excited to
share in our vision and who want to contribute to it; I want to
hear their ideas and suggestions, as well as for them to listen to
FE: In your opinion, why do you think that
Handyman Matters would be a great opportunity for
AB: Look at the statistics:
According to the United States Census Bureau, there are now
over 126 million housing units in the United States, and of that
number, over 95 million were built before 1990. Today, these homes
are nearing 30 years and are needing the necessary repair and
maintenance to maintain their value. The average consumer holds
onto their home for at least 13 years. However, with the
housing market continuing to rise, people are choosing to do
repairs and remodels to their homes rather than move into
larger, more expensive homes. As a result, now is the
best time to be in this industry.