Saturday 22 December 2007

I have sold 0800handyman to The Zockoll Group

Reason for recent lack of blogging is that I have been frantically pulling together vast quantities of detailed paperwork to support the sale of my controlling stake in 0800handyman to the Zockoll Group. This sale is now complete, and I am now delighted to report that, after nearly seven years, I am handing over the reigns to new owners.

The Zockoll Group, and Jim Zockoll in particular, is (are?) responsible for establishing the only national brand in the domestic maintenance sector, Dyno Rod (now owned by British Gas, but founded by Jim Zockoll in the 60s). They have been a minority shareholder in 0800handyman since 2002, and now own a majority of the business. They are joined by one of our franchisees, Paul Geoghegan, who is now a director and shareholder of 0800handyman Ltd.

When I founded 0800handyman, or RedJacks as it was then, there were two businesses that I had ambitions to emulate. Kwik-Fit was one, and Dyno-Rod was the other. Both have succeeded in building strong, national brands, in sectors which have historically been plagued by poor service. That is exactly what I have been working towards with 0800handyman. We aren't there yet (we certainly don't have a national brand), but are a long way along the line. If you searched for "handyman" on the internet in 2001 you would not have found much at all. Now you will find dozens of companies all (I like to think) trying to emulate what 0800handyman is doing.

The existing team will continue, of course, and I would like to thank all of them publicly for giving me the opportunity to work with such a diverse and stimulating group of people.

I am looking forward to observing the progress of 0800handyman from a distance, and I sincerely hope that, in 10 years time, 0800handyman will have done for home maintenance what Kwik-Fit did for car maintenance and what Dyno-Rod did for drain clearance.

I have some ideas for new ventures, I'll start a fresh blog for those when there is something concrete to report. I'm sure you won't need to hunt too hard to find me.

Need any odd-jobs doing? Check out 0800handyman.

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Rubbish collection, junk removal, blogs, e-mail newsletters

My friend Jason Mohr, who runs a business called Any Junk? (doing junk removal for households in London, Bristol and Birmingham), asked me the other day if they could have a mention in our email newsletter, in return for giving 0800handyman a mention in theirs.

But we haven't sent an e-mail newsletter for ages, because I've started to think that e-mail newsletters are too intrusive. A blog seems to be better, and those people that are really interested in what I have to say can subscribe to the RSS feed. As long as you don't mind sometimes waiting a few weeks for me to post (although, to be fair, I generally post several times a week, but just haven't for a while now. Back now.)

So I said I'd talk about junk removal and rubbish collection on my blog instead. Any Junk? seem to be doing a pretty good job in their sector doing what what we have done in ours: adding some professionalism, great service, efficient back-office systems (they use the same software as us, fancy that), and strong branding to a previously haphazard, one-man-band-dominated, sometimes dodgy, fragmented sector.

Just like in the handyman sector, the Americans are way ahead of us with junk removal. Jason has modelled his business, I think, on Got Junk?, the market leader in the US. If anyone is thinking of setting up a service business in the UK, checking out how they do it in the US is often a good place to start.

Junk removal has the added advantage of being able to play the green card. Some reasonably high percentage of everything they collect is either sold on or recycled, saving space in landfill. Jason manages to persuade everyone his business is so green that the taxpayer should actually pay for some of it - they were recently awarded a grant to buy four new trucks outright. I'm not sure if that is supposed to be public knowledge, but given that it is public money, it ought to be. And it is now. I am very cynical about taxpayers subsidising commercial businesses -- I think it is cheating -- but no doubt there is a strong economic argument for using tax money to keep junk out of landfill, blah, blah.

Anyway, if you need junk collecting or rubbish removing, do check these guys out, we've used them ourselves and they are excellent, and the chap the runs it is a good egg:

Need any oddjobs doing? Check out