Apr 2017
Handymen of the 21 st century

Blue-collar industry in America is fast regaining its position as the premier employment generator for skilled as well as semi-skilled workers. Young and innovative entrepreneurs are now moving away from the saturated Silicon Valley, towards newer business models that involve small teams of up to 10-15 blue-collar workers.

But, how is this different from the ‘handyman’ era of yesteryears?

The difference lies in how this renewed industry is reconceptualising its space. By moving away from the traditional approach to business as being employer-lead, new blue collar entrepreneurs are realising the importance of a customer-lead business model.

What does this mean for a blue-collar entrepreneur?

A successful service industry related entrepreneur has effectively redefined his business and adopted a more white-collar approach towards it. This means that the impetus has now shifted from maintaining instantaneous profitability to long term revenue generation and connecting with customers. ‘Servitization’ of this business model has made it more customer-friendly, thereby ensuring long term returns and sufficient margins all along.

By simply answering the phone every single time it rings, this entrepreneur is able to service customers, secure up-time all the time and create a roster of technicians equipped at handling every kind of machinery. A service industry businessman has differentiated himself by creating a niche for his business in this domain by leveraging the ease of access a simple app provides, amongst other things. A big reason for his success is his ability to recruit 10-20 technicians who know their job and are willing to up-skill themselves on a continual basis.

Monitoring closely his data points, mapping his business and introducing informed risk taking measures in small doses- these are only some of the ways in which he has reinvigorated his business model. He has chosen a brand image that suits the peculiarity of his business with no regard to traditional precedents.

What does it mean for a customer?

Market research shows that people are more likely to call a service technician in cases of installation and/or complete breakdown of equipment. Both these instances lie on the extreme ends of the life-cycle of a device. Therefore, unless customers are incentivised to maintain their equipments throughout their life-cycle, it would mean sale-related margins only for the service industry.

By having an up-to- date blue-collar business on call, a customer can be guaranteed updated service, information on new products and services, a regular upkeep of existing devices and the possibility of customised solutions. Anywhere, anytime, the customer can simply inform the company and the message, thanks to the growing usage of apps and GPS, will reach the nearest technician.

This same customer, in today’s world, is more likely to go for a subscription model of servicing rather than being forced to call a technician when it is too late. A blue-collar business that capitalises on this shift in market trend can have a healthy and growing customer database.

How to make the shift?

Making the shift is easy if you are able to have a 360 degree view of your business model. This means that if you are able to continue a recurring customer relationship, prioritise the end user, account for your financials at every point and be completely in sync with current technology and communication models, you are halfway there.

Ensure that your team size is relatively smaller, up to 20-25, so that you can scale your business accordingly with little to no financial risk. A smaller team also ensures rolling out and testing different quality control methods, organising up-skilling and/or re-skilling on a budget and sufficient impact in the area of operation.

Handymen of the 21 st century are successfully appropriating the business models that work for an informed and savvy customer who is always in a hurry, by giving them what they need in the here and the now-quick, modern and affordable services.



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