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There are many inqueries as to business setup, experiences and how to handle them. My original thread was supposed to be directed to those that were interesed in start-ups and took off in another direction.
THIS THREAD IS DEDICATED TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF BUSINESSMEN AND WOMEN. Its intent is to expose future or current business owners to the vagaries that may be encountered in real life, not those touted in 'business 101'.
I think that we, as businessmen, have a duty to guide our younger members. If we do not, we will wonder why America went the way of the Romans ( not what I wanted to say but you get the idea).
I will still stand on the paperwork, a national developer keeps piling it on. I now have to file 'material recieved' forms with every shipment plus a summary until the complete order is filled. This used to pay well but, with the paperwork, is becoming less attractive.
Nathan, This might be a worthwile Topic, let's see where it goes.
 

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I think the best advice I can give to new business owners is to keep notes. When I came into the company I work for now there were no notes, not even on colors used or completion dates. If you ever have a call back that info is of paramount importance!
 

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My advice is do what you do best. If you love swinging the hammer then stay small and swing that hammer and stay happy. If you sell best, then let someone else swing the hammer and sell the jobs. If you are the best at working with customers, then let someone else sell, let someone else swing the hammer and deal with the customers during and after the project. If you like paperwork, become an accountant.
 

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Great thread.
Thanks for the insight.

I've been pondering whether the construction/remodeling industry is for me.
I've been working on my home for the past few months. Most of the work has been done by myself and friends & relatives.
I seem to know someone with experience for every project.

There seems to be however, a huge explosion of "contractors" at least in the southern California area. Having noticed this has really kept me away from actually getting involved - my personal experience is sufficient to obtain a license.

How did you alll start in the "Business?"
 

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Hey Grumpy, your advice is right on.

When I was consulting I called that creating systems. In a small business like most construction companies if an owner ever wants his company to out live himself or if he ever wants to sell it, the business has to be set-up to run itself without him.

I found a lack of systems and documentation are what usually were keeping a poorly run one man operation from ever growing into anything else. I hope the company you work for realizes what all you are doing for them.

Along the lines of what you are saying in regard to call-backs, one of the things I have implemented recently is to keep a record for a customer of all materials used on a project. Say years later they break a tile in the kitchen floor, I can tell them exactly who made the tile and even the exact grout color and manufacturer so they can hopefully fix it seemlessly. I'm still working on a way to present this service to the customer so it adds value to my services.
 

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Mike, after a job is completed, I send a thank you note. Included with that note is a 'job summary'. It includes dates, workers/foremans names, paint colors, pattern/run numbers etc. I keep a copy, and they get one. Down the road, if I have to do a touch up, or they need to order more paper, all the info is in my customer file, or they have it too.
 

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Son of a bee-otch! You have always got the good answers! That's an excellent technique, being the copy cat that I am, guess what I'm gonna do?

That is the perfect way for me to add the value of service I was looking for.

:Thumbs:
 

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When I had my business I gave an Operation and Maintenance Manual to the homeowner for all the equipment (that's pretty standard). Other items that were included were tips for cleaning the dryer duct or how to winterize an outdoor bar-b-que area, changing the heating element in water heater, etc. And then about 4-5 times a year we would send out reminders for them to look in their O&M manual and perform the necessary maintenance items. It makes a huge difference in having a client remember to talk about you to others. It decreased out warranty items also.. let's face it - the man of the house likes the woman of the house to think he can do all that stuff.. we just gave him the tools to do it :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This is what I was hoping for!
I hope everybody send out cards over the holidays. Be sure that they are non-denominational and not the cheapest card to be found. When getting started a hand written note inside can go a long way, unless you have thousands of customers, sign them personally.
Save money! Buy your cards for the next year in January when they are really cheap. They don't have to all look alike, nobody is going to compare cards from their plumber. You can set up a post purchase agreement while you are shopping for the wife and lil nippers. Card store owners are business people too, just insist that the cards are generic and double check prior to purchase. Save the Hallmarks for your best customers.
 

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Christmas cards are a waste of your money. I have spoken with a few people who have told me point blank they just throw out the cards without opening them because they get so many. People have asked me if I got their card and I have to hunt through a pile just to answer yes or no.

Be creative like me. Send out Independance day cards. ;) who get's? those?! That's right! Nobody does, which is why they will remember the cards. Another thing is the summer is more active than the winter.

I also send out periodic newsletters once every two years, when I have time and think about it. The newsletter has information abotu caring for your roof and when to clean gutters etc...
 

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Come on now Grumpy, everbody loves getting Christmas cards! You're not a hum bug are you?

Teetorbilt, I'm with you. I think one of the hardest hurdles of marketing is coming up with a legitimate reason to contact a previous customer, Christmas cards are a good idea in my book, if they throw them away, so what, those are the same people that are going to throw away anything you send them. I truly care about my customers so sending a Christmas card is more than just a marketing opertunity to me. I probably will include a scratch ticket in each one this year.
 

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From a business point of view why waste the money if it's going to go right into the trash? Seriously. People get overloaded with christmas cards, that they just don't have the maximum effect anymore.

The best reason to contact a previous customers is a Quality Assurance check. "Mr. Home owner I am just contacting you because I wanted to make sure everything was allright with your roof. We call our customers about once a year to make sure it's doing it's job and keeping the water out... I'm so glad to hear you haven't had any problems. Are you planning any projects this year?" or "Mr. Home owner this is just a friendly reminder that to maximize the life of your roof you should have your gutters cleaned about twice a year and right now is the recommended time." There are thousands of ways to *innocently* contact old customers out of the blue.
 

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Grumpy, I think you might be missing the point, if the only reason you are sending a Christmas card to past customers is just to get in their wallet, then yes, there are probably better things you could do.

However, I send them out because that is who I am and that is the relationship I want to cultivate with my customers. Not everything I doing in my business life is about ROI.

I might even send you a Christmas card if you're not careful.
;)
 

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Yes mike I am sending cards so that they remember me. I don't even send cards to my closest friends or family. I idefinetly have built a relationship with many of my customers who literally tell me how much they love me when we speak. One particular sweet older woman volunteered to finance me if I started my own company. I told her I would call her next year. This actually just happened yesterday.

I'm just not the card and gift kinda guy... That's how my father raised me. I know it's important for business and business is what drives me.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Grumpy, Summer is YOUR busy time. Down here it is winter when the rich snowbirds flock down and the holidays are the perfect time to contact them.
My return address lables are gold on black and quite striking, even if the card gets trashed two things are accomplished; 1) They recognize that I went to the time and expense to send them a card and 2) They have to read the return address to determine whether or not to throw it out and my company name is in their face again.
Did you have a forebearer named Ebeneezer?
 

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Summer actually is not my busy time. Spring is busy, summer laggs and fall is super busy! Winter is super slow.

My point wasn't to send a card at my busy season. My point was to send a card when they (the customer) will actually notice and pay attention to it. Let's see... customer get's 100 cards and glances at yours for a brief second OR customer gets one card and takes a few full seconds to read it over and pay attention to it. Which would you prefer?
 
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