Is There Anything Honey-Do-Men Can’t Do?
The Somers Record Interview with Owner Darrell Babboni
August 2020 by Bob Dumas (Editor)
When Darrell Babboni started a small business out of his mom’s house in 1997 doing home repairs, he had no idea it would grow to the size it is today.
Now a multi-million-dollar business with 38 employees, 21 trucks, and completing over 1000 job last year alone, Honey-Do-Men, a Home Improvement and Repairs company, has a brick-and-mortar headquarters in Carmel NY. Babboni says the pillars of success are simple; the company was built on ethics, values, and morals. The company, which services all of and only serves Westchester and Putnam counties, is now in the process of developing a franchise network that would take the business coast to coast as early as next year and will be filming a pilot for a possible series on cable TV.
To simply call Honey-Do-Men a repair and remodeling company is somewhat of a disservice. It would probably be easier to list what they don’t do than what they can do, but let’s give it a try. Exterior services include roofing, gutters, siding, windows, doors, driveways, deck, patios, and fencing, to name a few. Interior services include bathroom and kitchen remodeling, flooring installation, tiling, painting, refinishing, custom carpentry, plumbing, electric, diagnostic repairs, new additions, and a full array of small handyman services. And that only touches on a small portion of what this company can do and the services they offer.
Babboni calls it one-stop shopping for homeowners. But it’s not just about the quantity of the work Hone-Do-Men performs, the array of services it offers, or the quality of the jobs it performs, it’s mostly about the customer service. One of the many things Babboni and his staff focus on and what he sais is missing in the industry, pride in craftsmanship. The other, customer service. Maybe that’s why over 68% off the job they do every year come from repeat customers and direct referrals.
If you talk to Babboni—who also aspires to become a motivational speaker someday and has been featured on shows like “Time Square Today”, “Ask the Experts” on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, as well as spoken at the United Nations Building on Entrepreneurs in America—you will feel his passion for the work and for the industry. He loves what he does, and it shows in everything he and his company have accomplished. Where does this drive come from? His humble beginnings, as with a lot of success stories, is where it all started and what drives him to be the best at what he does.
Darrell Babboni was raised by a single mom, Barabara Babboni, who worked as a court clerk in Yorktown for 6 years. Darrell would go on to graduate from Somers High School in 1996, obtained the prestigious award and rank of Eagle from the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) Troop 235 Yorktown also in 1996, graduate from Westchester Community College in 1998, incorporated his company, Honey-Do-Men, right here in Westchester in 2001, and in fact still resides in Somers to this day. “As local as local gets,” he would say. And the journey, he said, “has been an interesting one”.
Darrell Babboni gives as much credit to being raised by his mom as he does to being raise by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as the “Mormons”. Located at 801 Kitchawan Rd Ossining, he attends, and has attended services on a regular basis. Babboni says that he is the person he is today because of his mom and gives her 100% credit for any success he has ever had in his life. “Without her and without God, I don’t know if I would have ever know what success is”
As for his company, Honey-Do-Men, that all began by doing simple home repairs to help out around the house. Because his mom couldn’t afford to pay someone to make the home repairs that were needed, and in fact, as they struggle to even put food on the table at times, and with an absent father as well, Darrell had no choice but to do the work needed himself and admits, “I probably broke more things than I fixed.”
That struggle and journey would latter lead to and inspire the creation of the “Good Samaritan Program” which gives home repair and improvement jobs away for free to a homeowner who can’t afford it and to Nonprofit organizations that show extensive goodwill in supporting our local communities.
It also inspired several other giving back programs Babboni would create such as the “Honey-Do-Men Entrepreneurial Scholarship” Program started over 7 years ago. It awards up to 4 graduates $1000 each who show an Entrepreneurial Spirit. Uniquely, it is not an award that has a financial needs requirement or based on race. It is purely an award based on merit and accomplishments. It also does not have to be used for college. Babboni believes that you don’t have to go to college, although he does encourage it, to be successful in life.
Babboni’s skills in the home improvement field are all self-taught, and although he went to college and got a degree in the performing arts, he quickly discovered people were willing to pay more for those self-taught skills than the ones he learned in school.
“It was the late 90’s, I was working out of a Honda Civic DX stripped-down hatchback with the seats folded down, a milk crate full of tools, gutter parts, and a backpack blower,” he said. “I was working out of my mom’s house, using her computer. My ladder was strapped to the roof of my car, only I didn’t have a roof rack, so it was scratching up the paint pretty bad. But these are the things you do and have to make do with when you are first starting out.”
In 2001, while doing a chimney repair for a client, he noticed the gutters needed cleaning. He offered to do the job for fifty bucks, but the client said no.
“But I got to thinking, I bet a lot of people would pay $50 to have their gutters cleaned,” he said. “So, later that week I went to the PennySaver building there in Yorktown and took out an ad: ‘$50 to clean your gutters, any house I can reach and with a walkable roof.’ I got about 20 calls, sold all 20 jobs. So, the next week, I went and took out another ad, got another 20 calls, sold another 20 jobs. That’s when it hit me. This wasn’t just a good idea, it was good business.”
At that point, Babboni focused strictly on gutters and bought his first truck. Over the next five years, he started hiring people to work for him, bought more trucks, started building an office staff, started winning awards, and had this to say, “Over the first 10 years in business, I think our worst year, was a 30% growth. It was like society was pushing me to grow more than I was pushing my company to grow. There was a hole in the market, we found it, and filled it.”
“I found the best gutter guys were roofers. They would get off the ladder and work from the roof,” he recalled. “The jobs went faster and were more profitable. But the thing with roofers is that its something that’s just in your blood and they kept pushing for me to go into roofing. So, in 2005, I caved and said, ‘If we are going to do this, then we are going to go all the way and do it right.’” It only took 3 short years before the company was named Master Elite by GAF, the countries largest roofing manufacturer, and a title that’s given to less than 3% of all roofing contractors nationwide. “We were on track to win almost every award you can think of, and we’ve never looked back”
In 2010, Babboni decided to get back into handyman work and four years later started Honey-Do-Men’s general contracting division.
“We can now fix, repair, install, or replace almost anything inside or outside your home. My goal was to become a one-stop for homeowners to call for anything they need. ‘Who do I call?’, ‘Who can I trust?’, ‘Who is going to show up?’, ‘Who is not going to try and sell me things I don’t need?’. These are questions that plague every homeowner and I wanted to give them ONE place they can go and ONE company they can trust for anything around the house. And that’s what we have done and accomplished here at Honey-Do-Men” he said.
In addition to providing an extensive selection of remodeling, repair, and maintenance services, Honey-Do-Men also ensures each customer has an outstanding experience, Babboni said. From the moment a customer contacts them to long after the project has been completed, they will receive a level of service that is an “exception to the standards in the home improvement industry.” For example, they background check their employees, send reminder notifications, and a photo of the person you will be meeting with. Show up on time, provide free estimates, run one job at a time no multiple jobs. Follow-up after work is completed, and if the client ever experiences a problem with the work they’ve performed, they will return and make sure it is completed to satisfaction.
“I stand behind my work and every job my companies does.” Babboni said. “In the past 24-years I have been doing this, and the 19-years my company, Honey-Do-Men has been in business, there has never been a job I didn’t go back on if there was a problem. And I think its that commitment to the job and to the customer that has ultimately propelled the success of the company”
“It’s about attention to detail and taking pride in your work and I back it up,” Babboni said.
A key differential I found when interviewing Darrell Babboni and talking to him about his company, Honey-Do-Men, is that they are diagnosing the problem to find out what the cause is, not just repairing the damages. Diagnostics is really his strong suit, noting it doesn’t help to fix something if you don’t know what caused it in the first place, and address that, otherwise, the problem will just keep happening.
“It seems [other contractors] just want to replace everything; they don’t want to fix it or take the time to find out what caused it to see if it can be fixed. They just want to tear it all out, charge a tone of money, and put in all new instead of taking the time to see what the problem is and if it can be repaired” he said.
In fact, the company’s:
Mission Statement is, “Raising the bar and the expectation levels between the homeowner and their contractor”
Slogan is, “Do it Once, Do it Right, so it doesn’t have to be done again”
Moto is, “If you mess up, man up, and fix it”
Those are the cornerstone of Babboni’s business model, something he hopes to expand nationwide when he begins to set up franchises in April of next year.
Besides the TV pilot, “More than just a HoneyDo-Man” or “Can this Home be Saved”, (they haven’t settled on a title for the show yet), and the book he is writing, “God Pushed me off a ladder”, Babboni is also creating instructional videos for his website, www.HoneyDoMen.com, and YouTube channel which are FREE and designed to help customers with diagnosing their own problems on their home, and to help educate them on what the causes and possible repairs are and also things to look out for that may have been done to your home or might be done by your contractor. It will be called, “Commonly Cut Corners By Contractors”
Looking back, Babboni notes he had a little bit of luck and perhaps some divine intervention to get him to where he is today and has a strong faith in God. As for the business, “I was lucky—I found a huge hole in the market; no one wanted to fix anything, everyone just wanted to tear out and replace” he said with a laugh. “Fix the floor, fix the roof, fix the siding, fix the gutter—that guy didn’t exist, at least no reputable guy. As soon as I started advertising, the phone went nuts and it was more that society that pushed me in this direction that I did. I have a personal motto, ‘Think fast, move faster.’ And So, here I am.”
Call 914-837-0411 to find out more or to get a free estimate.