Heard of a few established solo guys who want to hire employees but never see it happen.
Is the transition from solo operation to a business with employees that much different?
I believe it is, this is where the consistent price structure, larger equipment costs, higher insurance, more taxes and the assumption that your time is free, not billable, becomes reality.
A solo guy can be driven to work fast, skip breaks, pay attention to quality and not realise that downtime between jobs is something that changes with employees. Solo guy can claim the well known $100 per hour so why not more of these guys who want employees make that step?
Would your current business structure accommodate employees and still be profitable?
I tried it this year. We parted ways amicably. You have to make sure your prices sustain it.
There was a point for two weeks where I was finally getting on top of all accounts. Getting on the road at 530am but getting home by 3pm. Really got into a good groove with him and one day we hit 1575, with powerwashing though. That wasnt the norm. But it could have been had circumstances been different.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able too without some major changes in the way I operate… It’s funny you posted this because I feel I’m at a a crossroads and can’t really ignore the fact that I can’t keep up any longer.
20% of your clients generally produce 80% of your profits. last couple years with our other business we focused on this principle. we aimed to make the 20% the 100% by weeding out lower accounts and accounts that were more difficult and stressful.
something magical seems to happen in that again you face the 20/80 rule. we’ve grown organically and our growth has been sustained and more trouble free and more lucrative in less the time.
once we get comfortable with window cleaning and wfp work we will begin the same process.
I for some bizarre reason have a hard time sticking to my price list and consistently under charge . I have become far more consistent though,a work in progress. I’m also in a bit of pain at the moment because of a failed knee replacement so I’m thinking into the future and wondering the next step.
The situation seems to me the classic small business owner situation. What’s the standard example used? A chef in a restaurant is a GREAT chef and thinks he should open his own restaurant. He does so… and 1-3 years later he is out of business and at a worse place than he started financially, mentally, and spiritually. He would have been better off staying a chef and hiring a General Manager to run the restaurant the chef owns.
From lurking on these forums I gather most on here are solo operators or are solo and have a “helper”. Neither of which constitutes being a business owner, sorry if I offend. The idea of being a business owner sounds great to many but taking the leap is difficult for many many reasons. You will make LESS money and work MORE hours the first few years than when you are solo. When people realize that they don’t want to, or can’t, make the sacrifice.
Once you start hiring people “off the street” (not family or friends) you really begin to understand that owning a window cleaning business has nothing to do with window cleaning. And that is probably hard for most solo operators to swallow. I think a lot of solo operators in this business like the personal touch they can give to their customers, which is great. But once you hire and grow and can’t devote a large amount of time to dealing with customers… I think that puts off a lot of solo operators who like that aspect of being solo. Nothing wrong with that but it is something you will most likely have to sacrifice if you are to hire and grow.
Being profitable while hiring is possible but you need proper pricing structure. Proper inventory controls. Proper and ongoing marketing and branding. And so forth. The first step is to stop obsessing over tools and techniques.
I have spent around $3,500, Plus another $5,000 for my vehicle. If you’re doing small storefronts only, start-up expenses are extremely less. if your into doing storefronts, residential, power washing and gutter cleaning, it gets expensive, there’s a lot of little things that cost money.
My wife is having a hard time understanding this. Yes you can go the very cheap route and get the basic equipment and tools (and also all the safety equipment) but the job is going to be way harder, way longer and put way more stress on you. I can’t see me doing that to myself so the way I went is more expensive.
Now for me I can’t see having employees under me nowhere soon, just a helper here and there. I’m just a simple guy wanting a simple life, I’m trying not to complicate it.
It seems the transition to being the boss in the office is quite the opposite of being the solo guy.
The way you price, market and brand are vastly different. The jobs you pursue are different.
Then you have the employee aspect. They aren’t YOU. They don’t care about the same things, don’t care as much about the equipment, the quality, or if you are making money. It’s just a job to them.
Personally, because “systems” are SO IMPORTANT, I think you are farther ahead to either be one or the other. If you are going to have employees, it far easier to do it from the start, rather than transitioning later. I can see exactly, why some just buy a franchise. Your mentality is much different comparing solo and business people.
yes you can.
i believe most solo window cleaning companys dont really understand profit or management. maybe they didn’t ever have a managment job before, or have any formal education in business so when they attempt to hire, it goes sour because they didn’t understand some key concepts to begin with.
but obviously u can stl make a profit when hiring employees because there are many successful companies with employees.
if your goal is to get big, then i think you should hire (expand) as quickly as possible. but, u have to make sure your profits (prices) are there to sustain the growth.
as an example, you got 1 job that pays $80. it takes you 4 hours (jist to keep the math simple). so ur making 20$/hour… (im not accounting for business, overhead, accruals-just keeping it simple)…or… u hire someone at $10/hr and the 2 of you get it done in 2 hours. you have just bumped your pay up to $30/hr vs only $20/hr by yourself. so in that simple example you made more money by hiring someone. in addition, you now have an extra 2 hours to go do another job.
so yes, u can make profits in spite of hiring someone. if you dont hire someone, then u can’t grow. there’s only so many hours in a day!
There is a key issue, IMO, when you go from solo to employee. I think THAT is the hard transition. When you have someone on the payroll, you are expected to have so many hours of work for them a week. Keeping your schedule full enough for someone other than yourself can get challenging, especially once you get in off peak times. Solo guys have a hard enough time marketing to keep themselves busy.
Even when you get to the point that hiring someone seems to make sense, you still have to keep enough work rolling in to actually KEEP them busy and making money, all the time. You will lose people when they can’t get a consistent paycheck. Even if they say they are good with knocking off early, they will not be happy when the check is short.