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#163751 - 05/16/07 07:25 AM building your business
trevman Offline
Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 47
Loc: canada
I am almost through my first year in business.Im still my only employee,my original plan was to have at least one employee by now.I have done about 80,000 in sales so far. i am slowly gaining regular commercial customers i have 8 , iam using residential work to fill in the slow times between commercial contracts. Iam not busy everyday and somrtimes find this to be depressing. my thought is if i keep gaining customers slowly, hopefully i will be able to grow and hire employees in the next couple of years. Ive bid on some large jobs that would warrant hiring employees but my quotes where way to high apparently, I have never been a estimator but i do know what it takes to complete a job. I have checked into est software but iam not comfortable with it. I use my own paper and pencil method. I operate with all the required lisenses insurance and workers comp coverage.I am hoping that my patience will pay off as i have seen others go big and die and also have seen guys go big and flourish. does anyone out there have a succesfull business with multiple employees going on that could share their story of growth through the first few years.

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Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:
#163755 - 05/16/07 08:45 AM Re: building your business [Re: trevman]
stevecheyenne Offline
Member

Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 38
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
You need to get your name out there.

The best way to do that is to network, and the way I found best to do it was through participation in community groups and youth sports. People get to know you, learn what you do, maybe try you out at their house and think of you when there is work to be done at their business, factory or rental property.

With a little time and luck, some of the people you meet will be GCs, business owners and property managers with larger projects. If they like you (and who doesn't like a guy who volunteers?) you'll get to bid their work and if they really like you then you might even get last-lookie or a negotiated contract arrangement.

Beware the temptation to get too big, too quickly. Small and efficient can make you as much or more money than big and out of control with far fewer headaches.

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#163779 - 05/16/07 05:51 PM Re: building your business [Re: trevman]
BGaquin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/03
Posts: 16
Loc: Sterling, VA
I have been in business 23 years the first years were lean, working by myself, going without pay, getting depressed and questioning my decision. But it has paid off, for me I was slow and steady, now at 20 employees.

One thing I found was on those slow days go see your commercial customers, just to chat.
In the beginning I got lots of work that way and it keeps you in the back of their mind.

Becareful though you do not want to interfere with their work.

Also remember that customers (heck people in general) do not give one iota about what you are up to, your kids or wife, what they do care about is themselves, their kids and wife. Discuss them. NO Jokes, avoid politics or any subjects that are argumentative.

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#164105 - 05/24/07 10:07 PM Re: building your business [Re: trevman]
canuck Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/06
Posts: 27
Loc: Canada
Can't help you with your business but I did recently read an excellent book. Entertaining and insightful about dealing/communicating with people. Might be worth a look.

http://www.amazon.ca/How-Win-Friends-inf...80069508&sr=1-1

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#164110 - 05/24/07 10:55 PM Re: building your business [Re: canuck]
dougwells Offline

Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1228
Loc: kamloops BC Canada
 Originally Posted By: canuck
Can't help you with your business but I did recently read an excellent book. Entertaining and insightful about dealing/communicating with people. Might be worth a look.

http://www.amazon.ca/How-Win-Friends-inf...80069508&sr=1-1




gee i just bought that book in hard cover for $1 at an spca book sale guess i should read it now.

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#164133 - 05/25/07 05:05 PM Re: building your business [Re: dougwells]
LK Offline

Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1721
Loc: New Jersey
Trash all the books, get an old $200 van spray some paint over the rust spots, get a throw away cell phone, so you don't have to be bothered with complaining customers, and take out an add like this http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/sks/346253499.html , oh just one more thing tell them you have been getting some bad checks, so you require cash for payment.

PS don't forget if they want wire nuts with the $25 fixture install that is an extra, basic install is twisted wires with one wrap of tape.

Operating a business as described above will always lead to problems, take the time to plan how you intend to operate your business.


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#164157 - 05/26/07 09:58 AM Re: building your business [Re: LK]
canuck Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/06
Posts: 27
Loc: Canada
 Originally Posted By: LK
Trash all the books, get an old $200 van spray some paint over the rust spots, get a throw away cell phone, so you don't have to be bothered with complaining customers, and take out an add like this http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/sks/346253499.html , oh just one more thing tell them you have been getting some bad checks, so you require cash for payment.

PS don't forget if they want wire nuts with the $25 fixture install that is an extra, basic install is twisted wires with one wrap of tape.

Operating a business as described above will always lead to problems, take the time to plan how you intend to operate your business.


"Lowest price Gauranteed!"

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#164203 - 05/27/07 04:12 PM Re: building your business [Re: canuck]
mrtoolbelt0601 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/01/05
Posts: 4
Loc: Atlanta, GA/Dallas,TX
I am in my 4th year, I went into a totally different direction, I joined the local chapter of the gay and lesbian association. Believe it or not I have got 60% of my steady business from them with little to no problems. I did find out that they have a large % of contractors but many didnt have my unique background (an electrican that does voice/data as well as utility servicing for the times that the local utility company needs a specific situation they wont do). They have a phone directory just like the local phone company, took out an add and have stayed pretty busy. It's a unique situation but if you not worried about stereotypes then its an avenue that could be profitable. Just my 2 watts worth on that.
_________________________
JNS Contracting Plc
"We do it right so you wont have to"

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#164262 - 05/29/07 12:09 PM Re: building your business [Re: mrtoolbelt0601]
ITO Offline
Member

Registered: 11/26/06
Posts: 341
Loc: Texas
Don’t know much about the residential market.

However I do know about commercial work and GCs are always on the look out for small contractors who can get work done for a good price. If you get about 5 or 6 small retail jobs under your belt, you will get your name on some bidder’s lists and then start to grow your business a bit at a time.

Service work in between the contract work is good, but it’s not your bread and butter in the commercial end. Taking on a $15K build out and doing the job for $10k after you paid your own labor is were the money is. They don’t all turn out like that, but enough of them do to make them worth the chase.

If you do enough small retail build outs and remodels and your name will get around, do them fast and keep the GCs happy and your name will get around in a good way.

I do not advertise at all, and only put my name on the trucks because it’s the law. Don’t have a yellow page add, but I am in the white pages. 100% of my work is from referral and being put on bidder’s lists and my other two estimations and I turn down about ½ of the jobs we are asked to bid on.

Work on getting your name to the people you want to work for, and then do a good job. Good contractors are a commodity and once you prove you are one, they work will come to you.

While you are building up your business, do service for malls and retail outlet property managers, and do it well for a reasonable price, they will also refer work your way. Sometimes the first people a GC will ask about contractors is the maintenance staff or property manager of a mall or strip center, so make sure they have some cards to hand out. People are funny, they want to hire somebody they either know or comes with a recommendation, keep that in mind with everyone you deal with.


Edited by ITO (05/29/07 12:11 PM)
_________________________
101° Rx = + /_\

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#164774 - 06/10/07 10:49 PM Re: building your business [Re: ITO]
trevman Offline
Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 47
Loc: canada
I took the advice and called some of my commercial customers to chat and they were suprised to hear that i have not been that busy the next day after i talked to 2 different customers i gained 4 new customers i bid on 2 jobs worth over 15k each and now have 34 pool systems to connect. thanks for the great advice!

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