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.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.