Needing Some Business Advice

 
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Old 12-12-2017, 09:57 AM   #1
 
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Needing Some Business Advice


Hello,

My husband and I own a carpentry business in Florida. We've owned our business for over two years now although he has probably 20 plus years experience in the construction field.

A couple questions for anyone who can give advice.

How many hours per week do you spend on paperwork, contracts and bookkeeping? Do you, the contractor, handle it or do you have another secretary? I have been trying to help my husband but I also homeschool and it's been a challenge. We have really learned our lesson about not having the proper contracts and change orders signed and in place and I want to improve this but there is so much paperwork it seems.

Also what do you do with customers complaining about your prices? Do you break down how much it costs for insurance, overhead, and all that? I think most people do not realize what being a licensed contractor entails.

Thank you to anyone for advice.
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Old 12-12-2017, 06:00 PM   #2
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


Read Michael Stones "mark up and profit: A contractors guide revisited"

As far as a secretary: Yes I have an office manager that handles all of the paper work including billing, typing contracts, paying bills etc. I couldnt dream of handling all of that in addition to the other countless things I have to get done. Start out with a part time (maybe 2 days a week) if you can't afford a full time employee at first.

As far as my pricing. My clients take it or leave it, once my price is set I dont adjust it for anyone (unless of coarse we reduce my scope). I made the mistake of allowing people to sway my prices in the very beginning and it wont ever happen again. I was a young inexperienced contractor then.

As far as what constitutes overhead, profit etc, read the book I mentioned above, it will help.

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Old 12-12-2017, 06:03 PM   #3
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


Sorry I misread your last question.

No I absuletley do not break down over head expenses for anyone. Its none of there business. I rarely even break down or line item the various costs of the job unless Im being paid to do so. That book I mentioned actually has some good info on this as well. Good luck
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Old 12-12-2017, 07:45 PM   #4
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


I don't break down my prices either. If I screw up one piece of the puzzle I make up for it with the rest, but no way am I going to only do the piece that I was low bid on. Another reason is that it can be more efficient to do the whole project either because I'm already there, or because I can work a second thing in while i'm waiting for the first thing to dry. For instance I could put a coat of paint on a wall, hang a door while the paint is drying, and then put the second coat on the wall.
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Old 12-12-2017, 10:14 PM   #5
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


It sounds like your plate's full. But organization and having a good file system is important. And everyone's going to complain about the price. You could give the work away and they'd still complain. So don't put too much thought into those comments. And don't try to justify the cost. Otherwise, you'll give them ammo to try and knock your price down.
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Old 12-16-2017, 04:35 PM   #6
 
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


Thank you so much for your responses! It is appreciated!
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Old 12-17-2017, 07:06 PM   #7
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


Make sure you are charging for your time, When you are busy with business, you should be charging enough for a substitute homeschooler/ teacher...... which could also be used for respite days. I would think you need to schedule "alone" time for the more difficult portions of your weekly bookwork.

As your skill levels improve (take certification tests as benchmarks/proof) charge more an hour, while taking fewer hours in total for same amount of work product...
Worst case you end up as CPA or close to it over the next several years.

If your kids are old enough have them help with the sorting and billing as a lab activity or even pay them as their work product improves....

Can you find another homeschooler that has similar values and equal or better teaching skills to swap days off within a 10-15 minute radius of your home?

Sign up for night classes in accounting/business and Internet based education services.


As Mr . Covey says in his life organizing system, put the big rocks in your jar First, then the less and less important.
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Old 12-17-2017, 07:34 PM   #8
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fouthgeneration View Post
As Mr . Covey says in his life organizing system, put the big rocks in your jar First, then the less and less important.
Covey doesn't have systems, he has snippets of ideas. Interesting to read his stuff, but you walk away having to figure out how to run a business or personal life.
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Old 12-17-2017, 10:29 PM   #9
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


I struggled with this before my solution was to hire someone.
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Old 12-18-2017, 05:09 PM   #10
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


I'm in the field 4-5 days a week depending on schedule. I probably spend 10-20 hours a week in the office depending on estimates and change orders. I tried going "part time" so I could work just 40 a week. It took my best horse out of the race. Charge for you time in the office, I just build it into my pricing. If you can't charge for you time, how can you hire someone to lighten the load? Owners need to charge for their time if they plan on growing.

Complain about pricing? If they don't I assume I missed something. If you can provide the service and quality you can charge what you want. It takes time and reputation to get there, but set yourself apart and the competition dwindles. I have gone up 100% to 150% on my bathrooms. It's too much babysitting and the inspections are a pain. I did the more bathrooms this year than the last 3 years combined. I got glowing reviews and a ton of referrals, already lined up 2 for early next year.

Also, be honest. If it takes 8 weeks then tell them 8 weeks. Everyone seems to tell the customer what they want to hear, then they get bent out of shape when they can't deliver. You set the expectations at contract time, they expect you to meet them.
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Old 01-06-2018, 08:49 AM   #11
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


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Old 01-09-2018, 06:51 AM   #12
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


I have an office manager who deals with bookkeeping and all the paperwork. If you want to continue helping your husband, you should do it full-time (or part-time, depending on the amount of the work he does) or hire someone to do it instead of you. Your working hours shouldn't be free or cheap and you should be aware of all the expenses you have.
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Old 01-09-2018, 07:45 AM   #13
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Re: Needing Some Business Advice


yes I believe you need a a full time book keeper. It may seem like a hassle now, but you will be glad to have the paper trail later when things go bad. And pricing is something i feel like customers will always complain about until they get it for free lol

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