By Paul Mueller
1851 Franchise Contributor
Carmen Hendricks is a TruBlue Total House Care franchise owner in Vienna, Virginia, who has had incredible success in the traditionally male-dominated handyman services industry. Hendricks launched her franchise in September 2019 after her mother experienced some health issues that required a hospital stay. Upon returning home, her mother needed a lot of work done at her house so she could rehab safely at home. It was nothing major, Hendricks recalls — just a tub-to-shower conversion and some general maintenance — but it presented an issue nonetheless.
“I had a really hard time finding people to do that kind of work,” said Hendricks. “The projects were considered too small for most contractors. And then after I finally got my mother home and settled in, I sort of had this Aha moment and realized that there's a real need for this kind of service — handyman companies that specialize in smaller projects with a focus on helping seniors. And I wanted to make that happen.”
She researched a range of franchises searching for any that had both the handyman component and a focus on seniors.
She found just one: TruBlue.
On the surface, Hendricks stands out as a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry. But when you dive deeper into her professional history, she appears even more unlikely to be the owner and operator of a thriving handyman services business.
Hendricks started her career in mortgage banking, and after nearly 20 very successful years, she got burned out and walked away. She went back to school and got a Master’s degree in urban planning. Then, a friend who owned an accounting firm came to her with a problem. He was in trouble. He had just bought a second location and had nobody to run it. He asked her to come help. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, but the next thing she knew, she had helped her friend acquire seven more accounting firms over a five-year span. She was wildly successful, and both the business and revenue were growing. Business was booming.
Then, she walked away to start a TruBlue franchise.
“People thought I was nuts,” said Hendricks. “Why would I give up the security of a bi-weekly paycheck — where I was paid handsomely — to start from ground zero in something I've never done before?”
The answer was twofold: passion and purpose.
“TruBlue has three avenues you can take: yardwork, house cleaning and handyman services,” said Hendricks. “There are some women just doing the house cleaning. I could have done that. A lot of women are. But I was doing this for my mother and people like her. So I went the handyman route, even though there aren’t a lot of women doing it.”
More than two years later, Hendricks is thriving as a TruBlue franchisee, and 50% of her business comes from working to help seniors who are aging at home.
It’s different work for her, but it’s nothing she can’t handle. She’s always been a DIY-er, she says, and in her nearly 20 years of banking, she’s reviewed thousands of appraisals, so she knows the language.
“Now, if someone said to me, ‘Hey, can you drywall my entire family room ceiling?’ No, I'm not the girl for that job,” she said. “But what I am really good at is planning, scheduling and managing a project from start to finish so that when my guys show up, they're absolutely prepared.”
She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, either. Hendricks recalls one winter project where she was short-staffed and she and another handyman installed a corrugated roof on a client’s back porch — just the two of them, alone, in the snow. She’s carried toilets up and down stairs — whatever it takes to help her team and get the job done, she says.
“I just feel like if you're a boss, you’ve got to do the work to prove that you have the backbone,” she said. “I know that I have to work harder than my male competitors to prove myself in this business.”
That’s also something she’s familiar with. Early in her career, she says, when she was working for JPMorgan Chase in Portland, Oregon, they wanted her to manage an office. At the time, Hendricks was ready to move back to the east coast. So when an opportunity came up in the Northern Virginia office just outside of Washington, DC, she took it. When she showed up on her first day, she realized that not only was it an all-male staff, but one of those men had been the previous branch manager who had been demoted.
So there was Hendricks — a young woman in one of the first leadership roles in her young career, coming from 3,000 miles away to be the new boss in this all-male branch, managing the man she had replaced.
And she proved herself.
Not only did she run a successful branch, but that male manager who had been demoted stayed with her for about one year, and the two are still friends today, some 20 years later.
“I’m sort of used to having to prove myself,” she said.
Now, at TruBlue, she says, the support she receives not only from colleagues and contractors — both male and female — as well as a local community of female entrepreneurs and businesswomen who are always helping each other out, has been tremendous. Especially the support she gets from TruBlue, which has helped her as both a franchisee and as a female entrepreneur.
"We have quite a few strong female owners like Carmen who are making a difference in their local communities,” said TruBlue President Sean Fitzgerald. “We’re always looking to bring on qualified female franchise owners who are passionate about what we do and who believe in taking advantage of a great business opportunity and providing a valuable service."
Despite her success, Hendricks is still reminded at times that she is indeed a female in a male-dominated industry. Just recently, she says, she was out doing an estimate, and when she knocked on the door and the client answered, he seemed confused.
“I think he was looking for what he assumed to be the man behind me who was going to do the actual estimate,” she said.
Hendricks introduced herself, chatted with the man, demonstrated her expertise and built not only instant credibility but instant rapport with the client.
“Honestly,” she says, “It’s not about my gender. It’s not about me at all or even my business. It’s about my employees and am I setting them up to succeed, and more than anything, it’s about my clients. I do this for my mother, and for people like her who need these services. That’s why I joined TruBlue — to fill that need. And everything I do in my business is to fulfill that goal.”
The initial investment to start a TruBlue Total House Care ranges from $65,000 to $91,000. For more information about franchising with TruBlue Total House Care, visit www.trubluefranchise.com.
About TruBlue Total House Care
TruBlue Total House Care provides a helping hand around the house — inside and out. TruBlue’s services include to-do list chores, handyman services, house cleaning, maintenance, yard work, emergency repairs, seasonal work, and preventative maintenance, all handled by a personal House Care Manager. TruBlue strives to provide affordable, worry-free living for seniors and hassle-free living for busy adults by providing full-service, trustworthy house care services. TruBlue franchise owners are required to obtain the Senior Home Safety Certification program through Age Safe® America. As specialists, TruBlue franchisees will be able to perform Senior Home Safety Assessments and can make those recommended safety modifications, if needed. To learn what it takes to open your own TruBlue Total House Care franchise, visit www.trubluefranchise.com.
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