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New Contractor Looking For Info

 
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:29 PM   #1
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New Contractor Looking For Info


Hello

This is my first post on the CT forums. Iíve been reading posts for months and itís been an amazing resource.

I thought Iíd tell you a little bit about myself and my plan to get started.

I currently work as an analyst in the IT industry and would really like to make a change. Iím not a carpenter but I have completely renovated my own home (framing, windows, doors, trim etc.). Iíve also dealt with a number of contractors.

High level overview of my plan:

Iíd like to start a small residential window and door replacement company with a focus on customer service and offering high quality products and workmanship at a reasonable cost. My plan is to purchase a cube van and tools and spend almost all of my time on the marketing and business side. Iíd market aggressively market with radio ads, vehicle graphics, door knockers, website and SEO and any other venue that I have time to explore. I would also handle all aspects of the business from sales to operations and coordination but I would have installers doing the work (casual employees or subs?). I envision having the truck stocked with all materials/tools and on-site ready for my crew to handle the installation.

The niche I see is between the small craigslist guys that offer cheap rates and the large companies that have high overhead and are significantly more expensive.

I am aware it will take time to build business and close sales so I donít plan on full time employees out of the gate but rather piecework employees or subcontractors. This is actually an area Iíd like insight into.

Below are some questions that I have:

Should I use casual employees or subs? What are the benefits or downsides of either?
Any workers comp/insurance implications on whether I use casual employees or subs?
What is the best way to find employees and subs?
My goal is to keep my focus as narrow as possible to start out (residential window/door replacement) Ė would I need to offer siding? Would it make sense?
Do you see any fundamental flaws in my plan?
Any information on tools? Would scaffolding be required (I assume it would be if I was to offer siding)?
Any other tips?
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Old 05-11-2015, 12:49 PM   #2
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


One issue I see is your margin. If you are having employees or subs doing 100% of the work, most of your gross is going straight into their pockets. Then you have to cover your own overhead, advertising (expensive according to your plan), and other expenses. My guess is what's left over isn't going to be enough for you to make a living unless you're doing huge volume. Especially if your selling point is that your price is lower than the large companies.

GC's who use 100% subs on their jobs almost always are coordinating multiple subs per job. Typically, these jobs are much larger than a window install. Because of the complexities involved in this, they can justify only doing, "the business side" and have a markup that lets them earn a living. I'm not sure you can do the same with your proposed idea.

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Old 05-11-2015, 02:15 PM   #3
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


I'd recommend you get some hands on experience doing these installs before you start selling them. There is a lot more that goes into Windows and siding than you might think. Being able to sell that to your client, and not missing anything crucial in your estimates only comes from lots of real life experience.
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:17 PM   #4
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


Just started building a budget. Figure out what your expected cost of doing business is. Then figure out what kind of volume and overhead you need to get you there. It sounds like you need to be doing .5-1 mil out of the gate. That't a lot to sell for a first year business.

It will be harder than you think to get good guys to do the installs. It takes a lot of training. Having people work inside of someones home isn't easy. You will have guys in every room in peoples home. There is a lot that can go wrong.
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:54 AM   #5
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


Another Homeowner wants to be a contractor... Got to love people who put a few windows into theirs own house, think thats all there is to it.

If you want to start installing windows and siding, go and work for someone doing that and get on hands experience, learn the tricks of the trade and everything that is involved. Without that you will never survive and if you start a huge marketing campaign, you will get more work than you can handle and instead of quality, you will start hacking things up, not making good on contracts, etc... Seen that happen plenty of times, not to mention when contractors you hire catch a whiff that you pencil neck and don't know any better, they will take you for everything you got and before you know you be on Craigslist bidding against low bidders to make payments on your box truck.

Stick to IT or quit and go learn the trade all ins and outs only then you might make it.
With that said, why you want to quit IT and do this, around here every 2nd house being sold to an IT guy or someone who has something to do with that industry?
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Old 05-12-2015, 11:04 AM   #6
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


I could see your plan working, but only if you could find yourself a REALLY good lead guy to hire that you trust and can build your business with you.
That said, you need to know how the install game works on any style house to be able to accurately sell and compete.
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:02 PM   #7
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


I agree with Greg24k, & think you need some/more experience. You talk about bigger companies having tons of overhead, but the things you mention (radio, graphics, etc) & yourself are the "big overhead". If you want to market yourself as a high quality company, then great; but don't think you won't less overhead than the next guy.
Just my 2 cents, but doing things the right way (licensing, insurance, advertising) seems to make you have more overhead than the next guy
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:44 PM   #8
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


[QUOTE=greg24k;2982225]Another Homeowner wants to be a contractor... Got to love people who put a few windows into theirs own house, think thats all there is to it.

If you want to start installing windows and siding, go and work for someone doing that and get on hands experience, learn the tricks of the trade and everything that is involved.

I will add work, it takes serious work blood sweat and tears. Like having a bad day and a window gets broke being installed and when it breaks the client standing right on top of you asking how many times youve done this. Honing your skills is so important and you will be hard pressed to find someone to do the job the way you would because at the end of the day its your company not theirs and its the job for them not a huge sacrifice of being the shop keeper floor sweeper complaint dept accountant and the list goes on. We all are good at what we choose to be good at but in my opinion you have to pay your dues in anything and in contracting unless you can show what you know you will not get any respect out of those that do this day in day out they will laugh at you when you turn and walk away.
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Old 05-19-2015, 02:32 AM   #9
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


My opoinion is to start small and get bigger when you are ready. Advertising is not as important as repuation and networking for a contractor. It take times to build these things.
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:15 AM   #10
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


I call Bull Chit.... There are so many problems with this.
So in theory, "I'll start a Company, piece work everything, make money while ridding around selling; maybe even play a little golf......
All this, in a trade that I've only play around with. If it were only that easy. Makes me wonder why a LOT of these contractors are out there swinging hammers with their guys (that's if they can afford to have guys). IMO. Go Commercial. The average HO don't have the money. They will want every third window free. Your subs will eat your profit; then be like "we're not making $" and go down the road. {I know, I pieced for over 10 yrs.} It all about $$. Bidding? From a book? Workers comp? Do your subs need it? What happens if you can't find subs. Are you ready to spend 75-80 hours a week, getting the job done? What happens when you lose $$ on back to backs. Your wife going to be OK with that? Get Real. NOT that simple. I've been at it for almost 30 yrs. It's just not that simple.
Hum, I put a bandage on my daughter, I'm going to open up a medical office...

Last edited by music9704; 05-19-2015 at 04:23 AM.
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:38 AM   #11
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


[QUOTE=AccurateCut;3011474]
Quote:
Originally Posted by greg24k View Post
We all are good at what we choose to be good at but in my opinion you have to pay your dues in anything and in contracting unless you can show what you know you will not get any respect out of those that do this day in day out they will laugh at you when you turn and walk away.
It actually Pisses me off when some people think its is that simple. AccurarteCut is right, No Respect.
Joshua is not giving it, and sure as hell not getting it.
Hunny, if you only knew.
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Old 05-19-2015, 08:26 AM   #12
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


I think a few pictures of what the OP---HO, DIY'er, IT Guy---did to his house would be nice. At least then we could see if he has any innate skills at what he proposes to do.

What few IT, Tech HO's I've run into here in Silicon Valley all seem to fit the mold of the OP. Trade work is really simple, actually way beneath them as far as a job or career goes.......Because they are so smart and have things all figured out.......especially if you sit all day in front of a computer and get paid six figures.....at least until you are outsourced to China or India.

Most of these guys are pretty smart, but only in a very thin sliver of life and knowledge. They are extremely naive and presumptuous about everything else......Their ego is tied to their paycheck and the fact that they hang around with others just like them. They believe that having an advanced degree in computer science, engineering, statistics or finance makes them an expert on everything.

Funny though, they don't want to pay you more than minimum wage for your work.....in which they want to buy all the materials (cus they know more than you)......and....they would do the work themselves, but they just can't find the time away from the "important" work that they do.

Sorry for the rant, but this guy really fits the profile, and, I noticed he posted once then gave up.....which is probably what would happen in a short time if he actually tried going into business for himself.
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Old 05-19-2015, 11:37 AM   #13
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


Quote:
Originally Posted by cwatbay View Post
I think a few pictures of what the OP---HO, DIY'er, IT Guy---did to his house would be nice. At least then we could see if he has any innate skills at what he proposes to do.

What few IT, Tech HO's I've run into here in Silicon Valley all seem to fit the mold of the OP. Trade work is really simple, actually way beneath them as far as a job or career goes.......Because they are so smart and have things all figured out.......especially if you sit all day in front of a computer and get paid six figures.....at least until you are outsourced to China or India.

Most of these guys are pretty smart, but only in a very thin sliver of life and knowledge. They are extremely naive and presumptuous about everything else......Their ego is tied to their paycheck and the fact that they hang around with others just like them. They believe that having an advanced degree in computer science, engineering, statistics or finance makes them an expert on everything.

Funny though, they don't want to pay you more than minimum wage for your work.....in which they want to buy all the materials (cus they know more than you)......and....they would do the work themselves, but they just can't find the time away from the "important" work that they do.

Sorry for the rant, but this guy really fits the profile, and, I noticed he posted once then gave up.....which is probably what would happen in a short time if he actually tried going into business for himself.
That is a very spot on summation, sir!
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Old 05-19-2015, 12:17 PM   #14
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


A wanna be truck ass!!!


The only way I can see this guy making out is to become a window supplier . Then pay employees to install. If he can sell the window with install cheaper then the client can buy the window he may have a chance. But he'll need to find some damn good employees at a low wage. Window installs can sometimes make the pros stop and scratch their heads!! Or ! He could hire illegals ! I know siding contractors that do this and do very well.
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Old 05-19-2015, 12:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Window installs can sometimes make the pros stop and scratch their heads!!

Exactly, I say they are like a box of chocolates - you never know exactly what you are going to run into with a window replacement.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:16 PM   #16
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


I know a guy that started a garage door company back in the late 80s.
It was just him and a beat up old Ford truck. One door at a time .

Now he has a fleet of trucks [nice trucks !!] His warehouse is next to the tracks his doors come in boxcars at a time. Even the builders cant buy a garage door for what he can supply and install. But! This ole boy paid his dues ! He worked his ass off to get where he's at now.

Back when he started out ..Most builders installed their own doors . Around here there were no garage door companies . He found a niche!
When the boom hit ..This guy took off ! Mostly hired college boys ..Paid them well! All the guys wear uniforms clean cut kids ! And don't blink When they pull in the drive ! Or you'll miss the whole process!! FAST! And Don't even think about working in the garage when they show up!
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:30 PM   #17
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


We getting spam posts now from HA????Some one tell me how to report this chit?I get enough of there crap in my inbox and phone without seeing it here too.
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Old 05-19-2015, 05:08 PM   #18
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We getting spam posts now from HA????Some one tell me how to report this chit?I get enough of there crap in my inbox and phone without seeing it here too.
In Tapatalk :Select the post, then select the 3 dot menu bar at the top right, select "Report".
On the website there's a flag in one of the corners that'll open a dialogue box.
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Old 05-19-2015, 05:37 PM   #19
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


It is a curious thing that this topic came up when it did.

I have been doing all my own computer hardware and software maintenance myself for many years now including putting together system and networks for my home and for some friends.
I was thinking of starting a small IT business and to market it somewhere between the Craig's list people and the big companies.

Think I have a chance to make good money and make my customers happy with my services thereby getting good referrals and better paying jobs and clients?













Naaahhhh!!!!


Andy.
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Old 05-19-2015, 05:43 PM   #20
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Re: New Contractor Looking For Info


The niche between CL hacks and Newpro or Renewal by Anderson is actually the norm.

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