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New Here, Need Some Help

 
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:24 PM   #1
 
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New Here, Need Some Help


Hi All,

I am new here, but I work for Stone Mountain Fence and Deck Centres in Thornhill On. Canada. The boss posts on here as Stone Mountain. I am his oldest son, who not only sells, but is the production manager now as well.

Its been almost a month now that I have taken over the duties of production management, and my eyes have opened up immensely. I have been working in the business most of my life, working from shop boy when I was 15 y/o, delivery and clean up when I was 17 and 18, and started selling when I was 22. Now I have the esteemed role of telling people they are not getting their deck this week, or next.

I have put forth a plan where we do not rely on subs anymore. It is becoming increasingly difficult working with subs. They don't want to help out getting even a few boards from the local home depot or lowe's, even refusing to pick up bags of concrete we order from our supplier down the street. To top it off, they treat us like a bank and come in during the week (even mondays, after friday was pay day) wining they need money. My father is an old softy, but I don't take it. They also tell me they are going to the job site, but never show up.

My plan is to start hiring carpenters as employees. Let them show up at 8:30 in the morning, pick up a company truck (that is GPS tracked, with geo-fences set up), get what they need, and go to the site. Come back to the office and drop off the truck at the end of the day and go home. Even with cell phones there is no guarantee they are where they say they are.

I want to ask my fellow contractors on here if you are seeing the same thing, and those who only have employees how its working out.

Thank you,

Adam

Last edited by Double-A; 08-07-2008 at 11:35 PM. Reason: screwed that up, was trying to merge threads. doh!
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:45 PM   #2
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


Did your boss tell you not to double post.


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Old 08-05-2008, 07:46 PM   #3
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


1 fence, 2 posts?
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:20 PM   #4
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


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Hi All,

I am new here, but I work for Stone Mountain Fence and Deck Centres in Thornhill On. Canada. The boss posts on here as Stone Mountain. I am his oldest son, who not only sells, but is the production manager now as well.

Its been almost a month now that I have taken over the duties of production management, and my eyes have opened up immensely. I have been working in the business most of my life, working from shop boy when I was 15 y/o, delivery and clean up when I was 17 and 18, and started selling when I was 22. Now I have the esteemed role of telling people they are not getting their deck this week, or next.

I have put forth a plan where we do not rely on subs anymore. It is becoming increasingly difficult working with subs. They don't want to help out getting even a few boards from the local home depot or lowe's, even refusing to pick up bags of concrete we order from our supplier down the street. To top it off, they treat us like a bank and come in during the week (even mondays, after friday was pay day) wining they need money. My father is an old softy, but I don't take it. They also tell me they are going to the job site, but never show up.

My plan is to start hiring carpenters as employees. Let them show up at 8:30 in the morning, pick up a company truck (that is GPS tracked, with geo-fences set up), get what they need, and go to the site. Come back to the office and drop off the truck at the end of the day and go home. Even with cell phones there is no guarantee they are where they say they are.

I want to ask my fellow contractors on here if you are seeing the same thing, and those who only have employees how its working out.

Thank you,

Adam

Adam,

Welcome and congrats on the impending nuptuals!

As someone who knows a bit about your company and has subbed a few jobs for your Dad, let me give you some of my input.

As a sub under the way your company operates, I was paid to build a deck (or whatever) under the understanding that all materials are supplied/delivered and all garbage, etc., is removed by your company. So, not being paid hourly and by the job it is expected as a sub that everything that is needed will be on site. So, I can see why subs would give you a hard time for going to pick up a "few boards" or whatnot as the time and gas to do so is all on their dime. I know you compensate them for the material costs but it is their lost time from the job site that would seem to be why they "refuse to pick it up". If you switch to having subs converted to employees, then that issue goes away and they will be directly compensated for the time and gas spent getting what it is they need.

As for treating you "like a bank", I can only say that people treat you the way you allow them to - if you front them money once, they're going to ask for it again, and again... Now, if payments for a subbed job are structured as "progress" payments then that would be fine. For example, a job that takes 3 weeks+ should have some sort of progress payments put in place. For a job that takes less than a week, then I would say pay them out upon completion.

As far as someone telling you they are going to the job site and then not doing so - well, I wouldn't have them as a sub for long. If they lie to you about that then how do you know they built the deck to your specifications?

As for proposal for having all your carpenters set up as employees, I would suggest that you be careful about how restrictive you are in how you set things up. If I was told I was being tracked via GPS by a potential boss, I wouldn't take the job and I'd tell them to take a long walk off a short pier.

You may want to consider the logisitcs of your proposal as well. For example, it may not be very time or cost effective in situations where your employees have to drive further to your office from home than it is from their home to the job site. You are likely to get into people wanting to be paid for ALL their travel time and mileage - I know I would want that. Also, people are likely to ask to "just take the truck home since it's closer" - do you want to get into that whole scenario?

Anyway, just a few thoughts and ideas for you to consider. I hope I helped a little.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:12 PM   #5
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


Keep reading the post above.

Put yourself in others shoes. Including the "old softy" you speak of.

You have only worked on one side of the fence so to speak. It's all about perspective isn't it?
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:53 PM   #6
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


I think you need to rethink this some more.

Consider that you want your carpenters to start at 8:30 AM, run materials and put in a day's work, all based from the shop. Fine and dandy. But, have you considered overtime and vehicle insurance? Your rates in the US are determined by who the drivers of the vehicle will be and their ages. This means that every time you hire or fire someone, you have to notify your insurance company. Not a real problem at the moment, but how do you budget for it?

Also, your scenario is a business model for a service company running service calls more so than it is for a contractor. In the service business, 6 productive hours a day is considered outstanding for field personnel. Are you willing to stretch your schedule out to allow for lost time on the job each and every day for material runs and pack/unpack, load/unload trucks, and the inevitable Chinese fire drill that will ensue with someone needs the 3/4 ton truck to haul the trailer, but didn't think about that until they loaded the 1/2 ton up with todays crap?

What about tax withholding, insurance, etc? I know nothing of Canadian laws, so you'll have to ask around for the answers. Perhaps Pops knows. Have you run the numbers vs. subs and seen a savings?

Now, let's assume nothing of your plan is implemented. The only thing we change is the quality of your subcontractors. You start hiring real companies with real employees that have budgets and stick to them. What happens if you ask your suppliers to deliver and support you the way you support them with your loyal and local buying? What if you add 10% to your prices starting tomorrow to cover the added expenses of having material shortfalls expedited out to the job? How about you ask your subs to make damned sure they have all the material they need for the day or the next morning before they cut that last board? How about you tell your subs you will pay them by the schedule and not by the emergency?

The horse you have now is a good one, it just has bad habits. Break those habits and teach it some respect for your expectations and it will serve you better in the future than it has in the past.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:59 PM   #7
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


Dude, you have some of the most insightful posts! Damn good advice given, Double!

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Old 08-06-2008, 12:41 AM   #8
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


I have employees that do the bulk of my work. It's been fine. Much easier to keep a handle on the quality of the work that you sell if you are directly in charge of all the persons that create that work.

Of course, I require subs on occaision and many times it is a inconvenience because you may be at their mercy. Other times it can be very beneficial to have experts in a field that we may not be experts in ourselves.

Often times, I am the subcontractor and I don't know how many times (too many) I've been scheduled to start a job and that day comes around and they are not ready for me. That sucks. I've also been the victim of the old "checks in the mail" excuse for late payment. I don't do their work anymore.
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:27 AM   #9
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Dude, you have some of the most insightful posts! Damn good advice given, Double!

Mac
Thanks Mac.
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Old 08-06-2008, 09:27 AM   #10
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


I'd be more inclined to hire a runner to get those misc. items out to your subs jobsites before hiring hourly carpenters. That & hire some new subs.
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:15 PM   #11
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


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I'd be more inclined to hire a runner to get those misc. items out to your subs jobsites before hiring hourly carpenters. That & hire some new subs.
That's an excellent idea. A company I once worked for was having a similar problem. All the subs would have to take time out of their day to go run for materials. In urban areas it is a p.i.t.a. Traffic, stress, time, gas prices, and then dealing with the customer when you got back on site. Sure, we always got reimbursed, but I'd much rather get the job done quickly and move on to the next. All this was alleviated when the owner hired a teenage kid to deliver supplies on site. Productivity went up and everyone was happy.
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:58 PM   #12
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


Ya stole my idea!

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Old 08-07-2008, 01:15 AM   #13
 
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


wake up is middle of summer and still same s.h.i.t.with payments. nothing changed and nothing gonna change.think about this.
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Old 08-07-2008, 03:57 PM   #14
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


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wake up is middle of summer and still same s.h.i.t.with payments. nothing changed and nothing gonna change.think about this.
Are you out of your medication?
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Old 08-07-2008, 04:41 PM   #15
 
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


Hey Adam,

I'm in a similar position as you. My family owns a swimming pool company and I being the eldest son have almost all of my fathers responsibility. We do almost all of our work in house. This way we get to regulate the time spent on each job as well as take in the profit that we would otherwise be paying a sub.

There was a time when we used subs for almost everything and I had the same experiences you spoke of. When it comes down to it, they don't give a **** because they get paid no matter what and you're left with any warranty issues or screwups they might be responsible for. I'm not knocking all subs here, but I have definately run into the bad ones.

I can tell you that since we have hired our own skilled labor our profits have increased, our job time has decreased and our overall customer satisfaction is the best it's ever been. The only suggestion I have is to make sure that your on site supervisors are competent and take thier jobs seriously. You will find that with the increase in employees it's harder to manage them all, and make sure that you have a good system in place that delegates responsibility so that you don't hear "it's not my fault". I hate hearing those words more than any others

Anyways, I hope this helped to give you some insight on in house labor. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

Sean
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Old 08-07-2008, 06:05 PM   #16
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


An employee should be picking up boards and bags of cement, you shouldn't be asking subs to do that, so it sounds like you'll eliminate that problem for your company. You'll also be able to dictate an employees hours at the jobsite which you can't do with subs, once again another plus for using employees. Your quality control should be easier since you can train employees how you want things done.

It sounds like employees will work better with the way your business is ran.
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:25 PM   #17
 
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


In our industry most of us have employees. I have always believed in doing the hiring when I needed someone. I guess I have a better way to get across what I expect.

I also give them a one page letter that they sign that points out there job discription. I make it easy to understand and pull know punches.

I have had long time employees with me for years because of this. The biggest thing I learned as I grew my company was to have enough field supervision.

I would use 1 super for 10 crews. I made them 100% accountable for there crews and the job and bonus for a perfect job.

They moved around all day long from job to job and everyone knew how much work that needed to be done daily.

This helped with cash flow big time and a client that was always better to deal with because of the supervision onsite.

I had a purchase agent and a permit girl 2 shop guys that staged the jobs bookeeper and the best phone girl on the planet and 1 service truck.

So just add 4-5 supers and 40 guys in the field and there you have a 6-8 million company.Priceless
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Old 08-07-2008, 09:39 PM   #18
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


Ahh, another desperate plea for help, yet never to return to hear the reply.

Adam, a simple thank you to those who have replied to your question('s) would go a long way. That and...

...aw heck drunken post......
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:40 PM   #19
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


OK, I've merged two threads into this one. It was a double post.
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Old 08-08-2008, 02:06 AM   #20
 
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Re: New Here, Need Some Help


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Ahh, another desperate plea for help, yet never to return to hear the reply.

Adam, a simple thank you to those who have replied to your question('s) would go a long way. That and...

...aw heck drunken post......
you are so right i see it happen all the time.

Maybe he is busy picking up the cement bags for his subs?
<Shurgs>

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