0800 Handyman: Oxford Graduates Search For Plumber Leads To Star-Studded Success

0800handyman - the 'odd jobs' firm to the stars - has built up nine franchises since launching its first two years ago. Now it wants to treble that within ten months. Bruce Greig, the Oxford graduate turned handyman who launched the company in 2001, is looking for more graduates and career high-flyers to buy a franchise and help build the company across the UK.

For Bruce, it was a frustrating search for a decent workman which led him to launch his own company of professional handymen. For some of his franchisees, the chance to escape the rat race and become their own boss was enough to lead them to take the plunge and set up in business themselves.

Now, with National Franchise Week just a few days away, the Oxford graduate is seeking more dynamic businessmen and women to become successful franchisees across the UK.

'I realised there was gap in the market after spending three days waiting for various plumbers to fit a new sink in my kitchen,' said Mr Greig, 30.

'The only one who turned up - late - wanted to charge an extortionate amount and insisted on replacing the existing brand new pipework. In the end I bought a few bits of copper from B&Q and did it myself.'

From that moment of DIY sprouted a business plan for a company of professional handymen who turned up on time, did the job well and didn't charge the earth.

Four years on, 0800handyman's turnover has topped £1million, Bruce has been shortlisted for the London Young Business Person of the Year award and there are plans to expand 0800handyman from nine franchises to almost 30 within the next ten months.

Call-outs range from opening jars of sugar to assembling flat-pack furniture while his list of satisfied clients includes:

  • TV presenter Cat Deeley, who called 0800handyman when a door handle dropped off, leaving her locked out of her bathroom;
  • Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry, who hired the professionals to hang a painting for him; and
  • Jemima Khan, who turned to Bruce ahead of boyfriend Hugh Grant when a heavy rug needed moving at her London home.

Bruce, a psychology graduate and former marketing consultant in the City, believes his business is successful because of the growing number of young professionals without the time or the inclination for DIY.

'It's not that people don't want to improve their homes,' explains Bruce, who is a member of the British Franchise Association. 'It's that they don't want to do the work themselves any more.

'People still want to spend money improving their homes. They just don't want to spend valuable time at home with a paintbrush in their hand when they could be spending it with their families and children.'

The majority of Bruce's franchisees and handymen are graduates themselves, many of whom have given up successful, well-paid jobs 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 company charges £20+VAT per half hour with a call out charge of £10 - £20, depending on the area.