Press Release April 2005
OXFORD GRADUATE TURNS PLUMBER NIGHTMARE INTO MILLION POUND BUSINESS
AN Oxford graduate has turned a struggle to find a decent plumber into a million-pound business.
Bruce Greig, 29, launched 0800handyman after waiting at home for three days for someone to fix a leaking pipe.
In the end, he did it himself and from that moment of DIY sprouted his business plan for a professional handyman company which turned up on time, did the job well and didn’t charge the earth.
Three years on, the company is on track to double its turnover to more than £1million this year.
The company, whose head office is in Battersea, London, covers much of the capital and also has six franchisees operating in Harrow, Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Devon.
In the next 12 months, the company will expand to include as many as 50 franchises across the whole of the UK. Franchises soon to be launched include Brighton and St Albans.
Bruce, a psychology graduate from St Hugh’s College, Oxford, believes the business is successful because of the growing number of professional couples, families and young singles who do not have time for DIY.
Bruce said: “More and more people are working longer hours and having less time to spend with their wives and girlfriends and families.
“They end up compiling long lists of jobs around the home that never get done or take forever to complete.
“People have a traditional view of tradesmen that they don’t turn up on time, are surly and drive a dirty van. We aim to be the opposite of that.”
The majority of Bruce’s franchisees and handymen are graduates themselves, many of whom have given up successful, well-paid jobs in the City to join the company.
Apart from an interview and a test of their practical skills, all potential employees have to undergo a multiple choice personality test to assess their levels of motivation and trustworthiness. Ninety per cent of applicants fail to make the grade.
The most common call-outs are for drilling expertise to hang pictures, mirrors and notice-boards, carpentry such as assembling flat-pack furniture and electrical jobs.
More unusual assignments include requests to cut a chopping board in half so it would fit in a family’s dishwasher, fit miniature light bulbs in a doll’s house and connect home stereos.
The company charges £30 for the first half hour and £20 for each half an hour after that.
Paul Geoghegan, a former Holland & Barrett export director, has the franchise in West London, covering such well-heeled parts as Richmond and Twickenham.
Paul, 52, said: “I spent 25 years travelling all over the world but had been wanting to do my own thing for a while.
“This sounded like the perfect opportunity. It’s the chance to be my own boss but within an established company.
“People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are working flat out with their careers. They don’t have the time or the inclination to get out a drill to put up a shelf.
“A couple of weeks ago I installed a light fitting for a busy City executive. It had been on his “to do” list for months because he wanted to spend his spare time with his family and not up a ladder.”
Probably the company’s most bizarre assignment to date involved one of Paul’s handymen who was asked to free a wealthy woman from Richmond who had trapped her toe in the taps of her bath.
The company, dubbed “Kwik-Fit for Houses”, has just hired its first “handywoman”. Angie Foulds, 27, will run the South Devon franchise with husband Greig (correct), 28, from their home in Torquay.
Angie, who still works as a nurse at Torbay Hospital, said: “There is a different demand here to London. This is a very big area for retirement and holiday lettings.
“The elderly, in particular, want to know that they person they call out is not going to rip them off.”
Bruce’s handymen get around in London on branded scooters and in other parts of the country in liveried Mini Ones. All employees were a company uniform and are expected to look clean and smart at all times.
Bruce, who lives in Winchester, said: “We are tapping into a growing market in which people don’t want to be bothered with doing jobs around the home.
“Apart from professional couples and families, more and more people are living alone, particularly young singles.
“In the next 12 months, we will be introducing 0800handyman to people all over the UK.”
· For more information, call 0800handyman on 0800 426396 or go to www.0800handyman.co.uk
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