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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have had a pretty busy 2009. That being said, it came with ALOT of stress for me.

I employ one journeyman carpenter, and one apprentice. All specialties are subs. And then myself who runs the business, deals with customers, deals with bills helps on site etc etc etc!

My question is: How many jobs do you guys prefer to take on at one time, and why?

Up until now I see 2-3 at a time as a neccesity to keep the cash flow up, and so I dont have guys standing around when the tapers an painters are at it, but its alot of stress, and even more hours. Need some advice, please.
 

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JumboJack for president!
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id bring in more people to help. You need to spread the responsibility. if you can not afford that then you need to cut back employees to only subs. Or raise your prices so you will make it through the slow times.
 

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At one time my partner and I had 10-14 jobs on the go at one time, ranging from $20,000 to $1,000,000 in scope. Burned us both out, cost us our wives, etc.

Now I work with one man, can control all aspects of the business, have customers waiting for me, and most of all am happy.

The thing of it is, you need to find out what makes you happy, and tailor your business to satisfy yourself. Believe it or not, there are more important things in life than money.
 

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Good Question. Consider turning over more responsibility of the project management to your lead carpenter. If you haven't already...allow him more freedom to interact with the client as a step to help alleviate all the stress on you.

A good businessman is one that can DELEGATE! Maybe you should consider a production manager... What you are looking for is time management. Take a log of your typical day...your typical week. Where is the bulk of your time? What portion of that week can you delegate or hire another to do? For example...do you spend a lot of your time in the truck picking up supplies and delivering them? Consider hiring an entry guy to drive around and grease the skids on the projects.

Too often we like to feel that we are SO important that we have to do everything...it ain't true. We need to spend our time doing the things that have the largest return and allow another to do the rest.

Consider reading the book The Lead Carpenter Handbook by Timothy Faller for some good ideas.

Best of luck.
 

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General Contractor
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I've had as many as 46 houses going at once. Truthfully, I think that's too much. I felt most comfortable at right around 15. That's a reasonable number to keep track of.
 

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General Contractor
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General Contractor
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You actually learn to compartmentalize the specific progress and phase of each house in your mind. Sort of like knowing where 46 different friends and relatives live, and who their kids are, and how old everyone is, and all the names, and sometimes even the birthdays.

See...? You already do it to an extent in your everyday life. Just a matter of expanding your awareness.
 
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What's the source of your stress? More specifically, besides just from running multiple jobs. If we know what the problem is, maybe we can help you narrow it down. If you stay on top of everything with daily lists, your scheduling, bids, contracts, quality control, book keeping. It should keep your stress to a minimum.
 

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Nest Home Improvement
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It really depends on the systems that you have developed with your business. If you have solid systems in place, you should be able to scale up, stay organized and on task and not be stressed. If you haven't already read the E-myth Contractor by Michael Gerber do so. You can get a used copy on Amazon for less than $10 and it's a quick read. It will help you put your business in perspective.
 

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How long have ya been going at it? I think a good background and history really makes a difference. When i first got started and was hiring guys it took me a bit to grasp the necessity of having to operate multiple jobs at any given time to keep the cash flow generating to keep the business and bills sustainable, it was hard to grasp initally since i was used to starting/finishing one job and moving to the next in line...great for 1 guy and a helper, not great for a crew on payroll and subs LOL!! So i eased into it and found it's not really the quantity of jobs, but the type of job and what you keep in house and what you sub out. It's ALOT easier to handle 10-20 jobs if your subbing all the work, vs actually being on site trying to work/job jump 10-20 jobs since that just pizzes off the customers as they see you for a lil bit and then you leave for awhile.

But i also found that during my peak of having a good sized crew and running multiple jobs, i honestly could not be on site wearing bags, my roll shifted expodentially from the guy on site getting dirty and barking orders, to the guy who now had to hunt down work, line up everything to keep a nice smooth flow of work to feed the guys so they would'nt be standing around...there is just no way to effeciently handle ALL aspects (including doing the feild work) along with all the administrative duties and still EFFICENTLY keep multiple jobs rolling IMO. That's alot to ask of any one man...it can be done, but at the expsense of no personal life which then adds yet another dimension of stress to your life that impedes practical decsion making and effeicency on your part since your mind wanders.

So there is no right answer, it boils down to personal preference and company set up IMO. Alot easier to manage many jobs when your not burdened with all the other asundry of responsibilites alot of typical smaller shops must endure since the main guy already wears about 10 different hats as it is. I always thought if i could find a secretary and s salesman to take care of all the stuff i hate doing, i could focus on being in the feild doing what i love being hands on. But i just cant find a salespuke that wants to work for anything under 50% of net profit, and i'm sorry, that's way out of line IMO unless they were positive they could sell a job for 150% more than i could in the first place.

Good luck:thumbsup:
 

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Ciaos mitigator
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you need a superintendent. some one who keeps the employees busy, schedules subs, get the inspections done, ect. all the day to day busy stuff. then you can work on getting the work, meeting the clients to keep them happy, and keeping the money flowing properly.
or you can do it the otherway around. get a project manager to deal with the customers, money, schedules, ect and you can do the day to day busy work.
i have found when you try to be onsite and do the office end of the job, it get to be too much and stuff gets messed up. its best to keep it in 2 parts when you have that many jobs at once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all the advice thus far.

I guess an example would be this:


At one time right now, I am working on a large 2 storey addition, a kitchen and bathroom reno, and a basement reno. I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I have my journeyman working on the kitchen bath, my helper at the addition cleaning up after the god damn subs, and doing punch list items, and trying to pick away at the basement. Im CONSTANTLY (probably 3-4 hours a day, picking up materials for everyone. My taper never shows up or even calls back, likewise with some other subs. I am dealing with a very picky needy customer constantly (addition), and am all the while barely scraping by financially.

I have tried keeping myself better scheduled and organized, but all the construction software I have tried has been very hard for me to use and understand. I have read countless books, but everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to profitably run a contracting company.

I am going into my 3rd year of being in business for myself. Our name is becoming recognized, and I am getting many referrals. Problem is I am so busy, I am not returning my customers calls as promptly as I should be, and not completing my estimates in a timely fashion.

I feel as though things are falling apart all around me, and I dont know what to do!

I thought of maybe just taking one larger job at a time (additions, new builds, major renos) and then to supplement, marketing and establishing a company that does ONE THING specifically (roofs, foundation waterproofing) to keep the cash flow coming, not to mention its an in and out thing that is easier to break down into a science.

Man I miss bangin nails sometimes. Hopefully this gives some more insight into my situation. Thanks for listening to me complain!
 

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Design/Build Remodeling
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We have had a pretty busy 2009. That being said, it came with ALOT of stress for me.

I employ one journeyman carpenter, and one apprentice. All specialties are subs. And then myself who runs the business, deals with customers, deals with bills helps on site etc etc etc!

My question is: How many jobs do you guys prefer to take on at one time, and why?

Up until now I see 2-3 at a time as a neccesity to keep the cash flow up, and so I dont have guys standing around when the tapers an painters are at it, but its alot of stress, and even more hours. Need some advice, please.
My best advice is "Be careful what you wish for..."

We're a company that went from 2 employees ($97k in gross) 1993 - to 18 employees ($4.7 mil in gross) 2001 - to 2 employees ($1.0 mil) in 2005.

We went from 1 project at a time (average project $10K) to 6 projects at a time (average project $210K) to one project at a time (average project $200K).

Your question can be changed to 1 million $1 jobs or 1 job for a $1 million?

You may be the person who likes to go 100 miles an hour with your hair on fire or you might be the person who likes it slow and easy enjoying other things.

Take some time and ask yourself - who you are? Ask your family what they want.

You can configure the biz to anything you want - it is only you alter ego.

We personally made more money from 2001 to 2005 - we hated it! We then had the option (when we reinvented ourselves in 2005) to do lots of projects at a lower rate or do few projects at a much higher rate. We choose to become a boutique service provider - few customers - very high end - lots of golf between jobs (sometimes months).

The number of jobs is not the important question - what you want from your short time on this earth is!

I hope this helps.
 

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Carpe Diem
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I told you - I'll come sell for you - Do you play golf?
Actually that was RS that asked you to sell but if you're gonna be in the neighborhood, let's tee it up! FOREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Although I don't think either of us will have the weather for a good round anytime soon. :sad:
 
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