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What To Do, What To Do?

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Old 06-19-2008, 12:32 AM   #1
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What To Do, What To Do?

Hello group. I'm new here and have lurked around and read many of the posts and think this would be a good group to get some feedback from. I've been in the construction business for 4-5 years now (I'm 24) and I suppose I have all around general skills as a handyman type but prefer and do best with carpentry and woodworking. I've either always worked for a company or contracted on my own.

My father also has worked in the home repairs handyman field off and on most of his life - however we were never super close while I was growing up (didnt live with him) and I have never worked with him or seen his work before. He recently had a fixer project changing a large number of fixtures, faucets, etc where he needed an extra hand and asked if I could help him out. I did and it went well. He mentioned that we should go into business together as a "dadada and son" kind of outfit. I thought it would be worth a shot.

Here's my problem. I would never claim to be a master expert or anything as I dont have years and years of experience yet, but I take pride in my work and am a little anal or perfectionistic about stuff. Turns out my pop is no where near that. I hate to say it but he is the kind of contractor I used to be called in after to fix what they have messed up. I try to tell him something is not being done correctly or whatever and he's like itll be alright I know what Im doing. I find I am spending a large amount of time going behind him and cleaning up spilled glue or paint or caulk or trying to make something look as good as I can after he has worked on it. Or even totally redoing something when hes not looking. On top of that there are a number of jobs we have been called back on to redo whatever he thought he had fixed/repaired/installed good enough.

The bad thing is I know he is freakin' thrilled with the idea of us working together and he is always bragging to relatives and customers etc. He seems happier than I have seen him in a VERY long time. I dont want to smack him in the face and say hey you're a hack, I'm gonna go work on my own, but I dont want to end up with a bad reputation either. I dont think he could keep up his business or income on his own. He is prone to depression and I am concerned that if I break out of this family business he'll go down that road again. What would you do in my situation?
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:39 AM   #2
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Let him sell the jobs and run the business end of it...you do the work


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Old 06-19-2008, 12:41 AM   #3
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Your respect for your father shines through. I have no words of wisdom for you but if you don't mind I am going to say a prayer for you tonight.
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Old 06-19-2008, 12:45 AM   #4
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Thanks for your replies. And yes I can use the prayers! Chris, should I even mention that I manage the business end and handle all the officework. advertising, etc too? He's not computer savvy.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:07 AM   #5
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

You sound like a son to be proud of,
sorry things are like they are.
Even sorrier that I can't offer any
good fix.
All I can say is that you can't change
anyone that doesn't want to change
You either have to accept what is
or find a way to walk away.
At least you've found a place to vent
where there are others who have
had to work with or for guys like
your Dad.
Good luck kiddo!
Put your location in your profile!
(Sorry....it seems there really are dumb questions)
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:25 AM   #6
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

and please don't let your father comes in here to read this... or he'll be heart-broken!
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:26 AM   #7
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Speaking from experience--working with family is either the best of things or the worst. There's really no in-between, and it can be extraordinarily uncomfortable when issues like you describe come up.

There are diplomatic ways to say just about anything. If handled poorly, you can hurt his feelings and pride--and potentially cause a rift in your father-son relationship, as you no doubt know.

As with any partnership, you're best chance for long term success together is to have clearly defined expectations for one another--for EVERYTHING. Be up front with him--but instead of making it about his quick & dirty work, make it about you. Tell him how important it is for you as a craftsman to do things as perfectly as possible (and how long-term you will be able to charge more for what you do because of delivering superior quality.)
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:20 AM   #8
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Friends are friends family is family and business is business. PERIOD I know it sounds cold and I feel your pain but this is your lively hood and sometimes you have to use your head and not your heart. The other thing is in one of my business classes the teacher(private business owner) said anyone who proposes a partnership gets an automatic F most partnerships never work out I have seen people that have been friends since childhood hate each other now because they went into partnership together. If you do go into partnership do like Chris said and I would incorporate so that everything is listed and the corporation has a value so if one person wants to leave there is a buy out option. Now that's the practical way the moral side is a bit different. You may upset your dad now by not going in with him but it may be less of problem now than in 6 months or a year or two years if things go bad and you want out then
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:42 PM   #9
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Wow you in a bad spot mate but you better fix it now before it surely gets ugly.Partnerships are BAD and family partnerships are worse. It's like 2 different animals tryin to pull a load. You are going to have to be firm but gentle. My dad worked FOR me for a while but I was always in charge and we made it work temporarily but it was only temporary. Maybe you could let him run the show and you could be in charge of the warranty dept. cause thats prolly the only way it will work. Best of luck to you and remember the Lord said "if any man lacks wisdom let him ask".
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:15 PM   #10
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Originally Posted by ChrWright View Post
Speaking from experience--working with family is either the best of things or the worst. There's really no in-between, and it can be extraordinarily uncomfortable when issues like you describe come up.
Sometimes I feel Im in the middle, I work with my dad and hes not as bad as the OP but he gets hard headed. He has a idea in his head and wants to do it that way, end of story. Lets say there is a $2000 job, $1000 labor, $1000 material. He gets a idea in his head and will spend whatever it takes to do it, like $2500. That doesnt work out really well and I get screwed on it alot.
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:34 PM   #11
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

The odds are stacked way against you and you are throwing up so many red flags you might get charged by a bull.

Tell him you want to keep your independence so you can explore other options down the road and you'd be happy to partner up on a job now and then.

Don't go into business with him. The odds are very low that it will be succesfull, and if it doesn't work, it will go down as one of the worst mistakes of your life.

Good luck!
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Old 06-23-2008, 12:21 PM   #12
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

You are also (I assume) at different phases in life.

I just think it's tough. It's easier if dad starts the biz and son comes in at a young age and learns from dad. Someday taking the biz to a new level.

On the other hand if you're both adults you're also both at different stages in life. You're ready to burn the midnight oil and he's happy going at his own pace doing things "his way."

It's tough. You might want to do what I did...

Go on your own and run your business as you need to. Then when you need his help or he needs yours you can combine your skills. (And use his only where you know it won't drive you crazy)

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Old 06-23-2008, 01:17 PM   #13
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Find the diamond in the rough and Exploit it, it works i have done it myself!
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Old 06-23-2008, 06:09 PM   #14
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

I kind of got the feeling after reading your post that you should maybe stay out on your own and do your own thing w/o dad. Or do what was suggested earlier and have your father run the business end of it while you do the actual labor. Your father, as u said "might be a hack", but that doesn't mean that his experience in the field isn't something that you may need one day. Good luck.

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Old 06-23-2008, 06:24 PM   #15
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

Be a man and sit down and discuss your concerns with your father. I highly doubt that he is going to cry.

Don't be an ass about it and you could even present it like a business model. Something along the lines of: "good enough, just isn't good enough for our long term goals". Any homeowner can do a "good enough" job, but people call you to do a "professional" job. Get it into his head to do the best job possible at all times, especially with finish work. The better your work, the more you can charge, the more people will pay, and the more people will call you back for future projects and not break out the yellow pages.
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:13 PM   #16
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Re: What To Do, What To Do?

I have a similar situation, tho not with family. My business partner and I have been good friends for about 30 years. He's like your father. I'm like you. I am all about organization, planning, forethought, perfection, craftsmanship and efficiency. He, just let's everything slide, because, it's good enough. He once showed me a piece of cove base (vinyl base trim), that he free-hand cut, looped around a corner, with the corner edge cut-thru from the backside. This, he thought was "good enough". My response: "That looks like Sh*t." It hurt his feelings, but that's what it looked like. I am not saying that's how things should be handled. It's just that, I feel your pain.

The reality of things is this, if you are in the remodeling business, you MUST have a high standard of quality & detail. You must work cleanly & neatly. The way you work, how you work, and the level of your work, should never be subject to "fault" by a Home Owner. These are just some of the essentials, that make a successful business in the Home Improvement Industry. If these are lacking, you are going to feel it in the wallet, in more ways than one.

I think that Super-Mike hit the nail on the head with this. As suggested by him also: It's time to talk with Dad. Do you want to be profitable, successful, and be able to pay your bills?...or do you want to be ..."pals"?

You may be able to accomplish more, by encouraging him to take a "different route" in your business. Example: "Pop, now that you are getting on in years, you shouldn't be working so hard. You should be making the transition into doing less of the work, and more of the sales. Let me do that stuff..."

BTW: My business partner isn't allowed to touch anything outside of drywall now. Forbidden. He's the people person/ salesman, I'm the detail guy....It's understood now.


- Build Well -

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst; 06-23-2008 at 07:17 PM.
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