It pays to be practical – when you’re in the right city at the right time and calculating the right price.
When his mother was still alive, Brian Keith Schrier was her handyman. “Even when I didn’t know how to do it, she trusted me to find out,” he says. “I would learn how to do it. When I was young I took everything apart and didn’t keep bringing them back together. I enjoy figuring things out. “
He’s worked in construction and owned a petition management firm that collected signatures for special interest groups to put issues on the ballot, and in 2014, 45-year-old Schrier was at a career crossroads. He signed up for TaskRabbit, the online marketplace that allows users to outsource small jobs to others who, along with other occasional service service apps like Handy and Fiverr, partnered with Amazon Home Services earlier this month to provide handyman services.
Schrier, who lives in San Francisco, spoke to MarketWatch about how he can make up to $ 14,000 a month doing odd jobs.
Market observation: How did you get to work as a craftsman?
Schrier: I had a friend with me who had moved to San Francisco from Missouri and picked up TaskRabbit to do some side work. He had come home and bragged about it. He showed me all the jobs he could choose from and talked about them until it was actually a bit annoying.
Market observation: What do you calculate?
Schrier: I charge $ 150 an hour. I used to do minor home repairs and handyman jobs, but as my rate has increased, I tend to do more of the specific jobs that require higher skill levels: electrical installations, TV mounts, and the like. Some of the other categories like supplies and IKEA furniture assembly, most of the people who do this are asking for cheaper prices so I don’t really get selected for that anymore.
Market observation: What did you start with?
Schrier: $ 20 to $ 25 an hour.
Market observation: Whoa! That’s quite a jump.
Schrier: I worked between 12 and 16 hours a day and got way, way too much work. I didn’t know how to say no to this work. I started increasing this rate to meet supply and demand. I just wanted to reduce my hours. I enjoyed fixing a problem from the ground up instead of putting IKEA furniture together. It is more important.
Market observation: Is it getting complicated?
Schrier: Yes, if someone wants to hang a chandelier but there is no power outlet. Sometimes you have to reroute the electrical wiring for this stuff.
Market observation: So how much are you earning these days?
Schrier: I have a pretty big project in my life right now. I usually work 20 to 25 hours a week. I’ve been working a little more this month. I think I’m at about $ 14,000 this month.
Market observation: Did you say 14,000? Is that a ruble or a dollar?
Schrier: We have a way to review our app. It’s exactly $ 13,976 for 30 days.
Market observation: Impressive. That must have been a particularly big project. You are clearly busy. I recently had a Tasker who makes about $ 3,000 a month, but he only charges $ 38 an hour and that’s in New York.
Schrier: You took me away. I had to fix a door, sand and repaint a railing and hang a chandelier.
Podcast: These workers make $ 100,000 a year
Market observation: Yes, you have to be really careful, especially with expensive items like chandeliers. Does TaskRabbit pay you to do PR for them?
Schrier: No. TaskRabbit has done a lot for me and I like to give back where I can. You have given me the freedom to work when I want to work, to take days off when I want, to choose the jobs I want to do. I made a career change in midlife that was really scary and put me in a great place.
Market observation: Do you have children?
Schrier: I have three children and they are all grown up, go to school and start their own lives …
Market observation: Do People Really Pay $ 150 to Install a TV in San Francisco?
Schrier: At this speed you have the certainty that I will do it right.
Market observation: How did you get so practical? And what is the most common task?
Schrier: I picked it up on the way. I grew up on my father’s ranch in eastern Oregon. TV assembly is the most common task. I am usually chosen for one of the most complicated mounts. Drill in your wall and make holes. I am selected a lot more for this one.
Market observation: I imagine a beautiful townhouse in San Francisco and a millionaire from Silicon Valley who can write complex computer code but doesn’t know how to use a hammer and nail.
Schrier: The tech industry is moving into this city and starting over. I get a lot of younger customers. As for men and women, I find it pretty balanced.
Market observation: Really?
Schrier: Well, I think it’s a bit more feminine.
Market observation: Has anyone ever hit you or flirted with you?
Schrier: I only had this experience a week ago. It wasn’t the customer, it was the customer’s neighbor. As soon as the client left, she told me how lonely she was. It was really awkward. I was just bouncing around the house with various chores. So I didn’t get involved in this conversation. After that it was really fun, but at the time it was more like, “Oh boy lady.” When the client came back, I told her lightly. I didn’t want the client to feel like I was in a bad position.
Market observation: What was the strangest job you had?
Schrier: I was hired to fold T-shirts for $ 70 an hour. I was really blown away that someone had to do this. It was a startup that had to be done right away.
Market observation: Nice job if you can get it.
Schrier: For some of these jobs that I do, the only other alternative is to hire a contractor. They’ll say, “I’m going to hang the TV, but I’m going to charge you half a day of work.” For me, I can hang a TV or reach behind a bookcase for a phone plug in less than an hour, and it’s still cheaper than a contractor. Many moving companies charge at least four hours.
Market observation: Any challenging tasks?
Schrier: I will get a job if the customer is really not in a good mood. It’s a bit stressful. I go on eggshells. I still have this job to do, but in the back of my mind I wonder if their world is that dark, if that will spill over to me in my review.
Market observation: I still wouldn’t call $ 150 an hour cheap.
Schrier: Maybe people have had bad experiences and are simply no longer ready to roll the dice. I get as much work as I want. With that amount of work, I could increase my rate, but at this point I really don’t want to. I’m not greedy, I’ll keep it where it is.
Market observation: And now you have more business on Amazon AMZN, + 0.61%.
Schrier: I have my first actual appearance for Amazon today. The customer’s motorhome has suffered water damage. They want the RV’s roof stripped and weatherproofed and made strong enough so that they can put a couple of garden chairs on top and hang them off. The customer is on Treasure Island.
Market observation: Treasure Island! This is the perfect place to end.
(This interview was originally published in April 2015.)