Been in business about 5 years. Do about 85% residential the rest commercial and very little storefront.
Bid Jobs competitively but for what you want. When you bid jobs just to get them you hate it every time you pull up to do it, you are stressed your worrying about how you can drastically raise their price or you stop showing up. Yes I have done that as an exit strategy. (Not proud)
Run your business for your needs and wants not what your competitors do. It is important to know the local market but more importantly finding the right clients and charging what they will pay. Don’t look at the volume guy and think you need to follow his pricing or look at the price gouger and think well if he can charge that then so can I.
Don’t let emotions get the best of you. ^ Kind of piggy backing off the above statement. I get emotional when I hear about someone pricing low, or have a bad week of bids being declined, or get on a high of thinking that every job is gonna be a $150.00 an hr waterfed pole residential and start charging too much.
It is important to have a mix of work. My financial advisor told me it is good to have your elephants but you also got to have your rabbits and your squirrels. I used to have more small commercial stuff and I fell in love with residential and large commercial. I have since learned that it is important to have all 3. For my 2 cents large commercial is a good couple times a year big shot pay day however if you lose one you have just lost a ton of money. Residential is a good income but comes with lots of time and headaches. I need to cancel cuz my sister is sick, you didin’t get the hard water off even though your quote says it’s not coming off, I need to cancel cuz my brother came over & did the gutters etc. Storefront is lower dollar but consistent and helps fill the gaps and keep people working, in my opinion very important for employee growth something I am missing. As an example my competitor/friend just did post construction on the new high school. He only got this big pay day cuz of his small run around work, if he didn’t have a crew of guys he could not have taken that job. You need that small run around stuff (rabbits & squirrles) so when the hospital, college, post construction complex comes up you have bodies to do it. It is hard to build a business when there is no winter work or gaps of time where you are sending people home. Storefront is good filler work and is how you maintain and add employees.
Follow your gut: If something feels off with a customer get out of it
Great post! I especially like your 5th point. Too often business owners think they have to land every sale, in spite of risks or problems. And, early on, this is somewhat true. But in the long run, it pays to listen when your gut is telling you to walk away.
I once turned down the opportunity to have 20 office buildings with at least $250,000 in annual work. They wanted us to do the post construction clean on several of the buildings, and we’d get the subsequent maintenance cleaning contract. I determined long ago to not take post construction cleaning without a signed scratch waiver in place. They refused to sign one, and I walked away. What good is a $250k+ annual contract if you go bankrupt for being on the hook for $15 million in scratched glass?
I also determined from the start that I would never work Sundays, nor would anyone in my company. No Sundays, EVER. For me, it’s a day I honor God. And for my employees, it’s a day of rest they can always count on. Have we been busy enough to work Sundays? More times than I can count. But you’ve gotta have boundaries. Run the business, don’t let it run you.
Don’t drop your price to get a job. You’ll regret it. Every. Single. Time.
Don’t undercut someone else’s price to take their account. I don’t want it happening to me, so I don’t do it to others.
Get a separate phone for the business…not a second number that still rings into your personal cell…an entirely separate phone. This way you can leave the personal phone in the truck while on a job, and leave the work phone at home while out on personal time. Again, boundaries. My wife has been answering our business line for many years now. At first she said she’d just also have it as her personal phone. I insisted she needed a personal phone apart from the business phone. She is very glad I insisted on that. Boundaries.
So much more I could share. 13 years in business, and nearly 25 in the industry.
Don’t worry about what your competition is doing. Stay focused on yourself and your company.
Finding “The Customer” can be tricky as everyone has their own thing they are dealing with. Some properties you look at first glance and think “Hmmm, this should be a good one”, just by the sheer scope of the task at hand, only to find out the customer isn’t willing to pay a fair price for the job at hand; other times you may feel “No way am I getting this without really selling myself”, and the “customer” actually becomes a customer. And yet again there are tire kickers…ehh, keep marketing and it all balances out at the end of the year. BUDGET, BABY!
Some are house rich and cash poor
Some are cash rich and house poor
Some have just the right balance of house to cash and simply say “When can you do it”.
Is it luck of the draw or learning where to target that earns the latter one?
I love the boundaries! I unfortunately do not follow this the best. What I do is push my body to the point of misery and then take some time off and repeat the cycle. However when I work a flat Monday - Friday I am way happier. My business controls me for sure. I have a question for you? What do you do these days in regards to texting. It is great reminders for customers but it opens up another form of communication to monitor. One of the biggest stresses for me as someone that cannot afford a 40k a year secretary is all the forms of communication. I have to take calls, refresh my email constantly, monitor my facebook page and respond to text. I have considered dropping facebook and telling customers we do not text. For what facebook does for advertising it creates a whole other job that a one man show doesn’t need, also texting opens you up to another thing to track and slow communication. Can’t tell you how many times I have facebooked someone or texted them and its 10 hours or 2 days just to set up a bid.
Man I have learned so much , so many things to share . Lots of god stuff already mention . All I can say is that not all jobs pay the same , some will pay better than others . As long as you’re happy at the end of the day is what matters.
And don’t believe all these people on fakebook , they some how find a way to make 100k solo Pt and be on FB trolling people all day
I’ve been noticing that some of the people I work with tend to pick a fight at the end of the day as a negotiation tactic. I think there is a lot of behaviour with businesspeople - myself included - which is self sabotaging and it is important to not let scapegoating get out of control.
I should start telling customers they get a discount if there aren’t candlesticks and plantpots in front of their windows. To put it another way - I must charge more for those who think I’m their personal Marie Kondo of the window sills.
On the point about elephants and squirrels - another way to interpret this is to have a mixture of work across different social classes. Two ways I’ve screwed up in the past by not dialing in who I’m working for - doing too much detail work for a person who can’t really afford that service and not putting down towels for large windows in upper middle homes.