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The Handyman Fix
By Ian Mount

(FORTUNE Small Business) – When the toilet handle snaps, the driveway needs patching, or a ceiling fan has to be installed, why is it so hard to find a reliable handyman? Why doesn't a clever entrepreneur step in to help millions of exasperated homeowners with those small, simple jobs and create a trusted national fix-it franchise?

Not surprisingly, such $100 jobs don't make sense for top contractors who can get multimonth $100,000 renovation projects. But a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard found that of the 580,000 self-employed contractors and tradespeople in the U.S., about two-thirds make less than $25,000. Nearly 70% of Americans own their residences, so the problem seems not a lack of supply or demand, but connecting the two.

While there is nothing like a Starbucks among home-repair franchises, there has been some traction lately. The category didn't exist 15 years ago, but the International Franchising Association now counts eight franchisors with outposts nationwide, including Andy OnCall and Mr. Handyman. (House Doctors is the largest, with 175 outlets in 43 states.) The door is definitely open for expansion. If only we could find someone to fix the hinges.