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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im own a Plumbing company, been in business since 2006, around $550,000 in sales.....and still haven't hired any employees

I typically work 100-120 hours a month in the field. Most of my work is for remodelers(65-75%), maybe 4 new homes a year(custom homes) and some service and small jobs for homeowners(25%)

some days I work 12 hours...some 1 hour.....its never steady for more than a few weeks at a time.....

I no longer have any free time to try to get new customers....and the few which I have gotten over the past year ive lost after a job or 2(I assume its over price since the jobs went well).....so im kinda stuck in a rut

I injured my back a few weeks ago and had a disc that hit a nerve making me unable to use my right leg for around 7 days....luckily it was a very slow week and didn't hurt me.

im recovering well, but have decided I cant do all the work myself anymore (age 43)......and by hiring an apprentice I will have some more free time to make sales calls and grow the business more

I have applied with the local union and am in the process of getting my company qualified to train a union apprentice....by Dec. I should be ALLOWED to hire one of their apprentices....

here's the question: what do I do with an apprentice when im only working 30 hours a week or less? how do you grow and hire your 1st employee.....ive wanted to for years now, but the work load is never heavy enough

I make very good $$ by myself, but physically I will not be able to do it myself for much longer....I need to do something
 

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Is your margins enough to hire a journeyman instead of a helper? On jobs that require 2 people, you both could go. If the job is only big enough for 1 person the jman could take care of it himself allowing time for you to find more work or take care of service calls as they come in.

I only have 1 full time employee and find it more helpful and profitable to have someone capable to take care of jobs without me present.

Don't know your situation, but I would think if your doing 10,000+ a week you should be able to swing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
im trying to do this hiring thing slow and easy.....if I hire an apprentice it costs me $30 per hour with benefits....if I hire a journeyman it costs me $60 per hour + a van/tools
im trying to start out slow(im somewhat scared)......if I hire a journeyman and only have 30 hours a week right now then wont we only get 15 hours each?....if I let him do all the work and I stick with sales I would run out of sales work the first week....there's only around 400 prime contractors in my area and 1/2 of them are cheap or have known payment issues....id like some time for sales, but I don't need to spend 40 hours a week doing it

I also cant afford the pay cut to take $80,000 off my profits to pay for a journeyman in hopes of getting more work
 

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Once you hire someone there's no going slow and easy. You have to plan to make the sales to support the extra employee full time and make you sufficient additional profit to justify the added costs and risk. I don't know what things are like in Wisconsin, but around here if you hire an apprentice you better have the work for him, else he'll go to someone who does have it.
 

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Hey, I know you. I'm surprised you didn't find this place a long time ago. Welcome!

I'll let the insiders here help you resolve the decision you need to make, but I can offer some business/marketing perspective. With more of your time available to focus on tasks that bring in more business, you should be able to do just that. There's no doubt it is unsettling because of the uncertainty, but evaluate the results you've been able to achieve with your current efforts and it might help you determine what you can expect by doing more of the things that are working.

Aside from that, get your new web site created and launched! You've put up with too much already.

Note for CT members: My last statement is based on a forum discussion elsewhere because huggy is having issues with a web designer. The two of us have known each other from another forum probably longer than I've been here. Dave, maybe now you'll realize how I keep myself well informed on the trades because you found one of my other hangouts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ive been unable to grow enough in 6 years to hire an apprentice(each year my sales grows 10-15% and this year im feeling the squeeze finally, but not enough to give hours to an employee)....ive finally got it planned to hire someone then go out and find the work....its like what comes first the chicken or the egg.....I have had potential customers tell me they wont go with me because im a 1 man shop....I also don't have the time to make sales calls anymore....

cbscreative: website is supposed to be complete this week and should be live in 2 weeks after revisions......I have great hopes it will dramatically change the amount of homeowner calls for 2014(since im only getting 3-4 calls a week from homeowners right now...sometimes 0)

carpentersfo: since the apprentice is union I don't think he can quit...journeyman yes, apprentice no....because I had a horrible apprenticeship and I couldn't quit the employer...I was getting 0 training for my 1st year, I complained to the union and they did nothing....I can guarantee 32 hours a week....ill have him painting my house and cutting my lawn if necessary to get his 32 hours in...some weeks I have 60 hours, some weeks 8
 

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550 k a year, did I read you right?
With that kind of profit i see no problem getting an expert plumber(good luck finding one),
Paying him 60hr. and giving him a mercedes with a trailer hitch for the tools you will provide.

basically your earning 50k a month, 2500 a day. or 300 dollars an hr.
I sure am doing something wrong
 

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brunothedog said:
550 k a year, did I read you right? With that kind of profit i see no problem getting an expert plumber(good luck finding one), Paying him 60hr. and giving him a mercedes with a trailer hitch for the tools you will provide. basically your earning 50k a month, 2500 a day. or 300 dollars an hr. I sure am doing something wrong
I think he said 550k in gross sales. Still that is a lot for 1 guy!
 

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I am trying to figure out how one guy can do $550K in sales, even if it is gross sales, and not be balls to the walls busy... :eek:
 

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And with only working 30 hours per week.

Then again, maybe the $550,000 is his total since 2006. That makes a lot more sense.
 

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My point being if you file tax returns with 550K and show no help/employee/subs..

rest assured the Tax man will come a knocking...that's an audit waiting to happen.
$550K all by my lonesome? Come and get me!... :laughing:
 

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Warren said:
And with only working 30 hours per week. Then again, maybe the $550,000 is his total since 2006. That makes a lot more sense.
Maybe he's a realtor and not a plumber. Or maybe he installs solid gold toilets. Then that would make sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
And with only working 30 hours per week.

Then again, maybe the $550,000 is his total since 2006. That makes a lot more sense.
1/2 of that $550,000 goes to fixtures/supplies

I grossed $450,000 in 2011, $550,000 in 2012 and will be grossing $520,000 this year...its all true.....last year I kept $180,000 in my pocket and paid $65,000+ in taxes

im very successful.....I do mostly high end remodels....most of the large service companies around here expect $500,000 in sales a year from their employees....I don't see anything special about it

im very fast and accurate...I often get large jobs done in 1/2 the time a normal plumber could do them...I rough 2.5 bath houses w/ sewer in 20-25 hours.....add a 2nd fl bath in 10-15 hours......but the trick I use is I charge for standard plumber hours on each job...so a job may be bid for 40 hours and I complete is in 20.....so I often am making $200-300 an hour....sometimes $400 an hour......I almost run up and down the stairs

I have had $100,000 months.....I charge $116 per hour


I don't want to give up $60,000 of my profit just to have a employee help me.....I figure in need to get $120,000-150,000 in additional sales to break even and make my normal profit......I meet with the union next week to get setup to be able to have an apprentice.....but now my sales have gone to crap....im barely working the next 2 weeks....ive been spending more time on sales...(making phone calls)....so far nothing.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Probably won't get a union apprentice to do that.
I agree....I know if I had employees and I sat in the office all day id need to have 4-5 journeyman to make my current take home pay...no one cares like the owner does....

I know of a good/hard worker who used to be a plumbing apprentice...but he now is a helper for his dad's plumbing business....his dad wants to hire him full time and I don't want to get in the middle of a father/son thing......this kid runs almost like I do...but after 12:00 he slows down to 1/2 pace(id still take him though)
 

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. So much time talking explaining negotiating payroll workers comp etc. I lost my crew to attrition this summer. Made more money and worked about twenty hours a week less.

Most importantly I didnt have to spend two hours a week putting tools back where they belong. Also didnt have to slow down so the employee could get a full eight hours.
 

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The part thats blowing my mind is you have to ask permission to train someone?

wtf is going on here?

just hire someone and train him, make him only a laborer, teach him to be a musician, paint pictures....anything the F you want to do, without anyone giving you permission to train him.

wtf....

So anyhow, buy a second truck, a nice one. Have the new guy drive the tanker to the job, work 1/2 days and leave, come back at 330 and check up on him, work till 5 to finish off the day.

or something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have stayed with the union for health insurance....
yes I was also shocked that the union has to ''approve'' me...and also that it takes 30+ days to do so....I have to go to a meeting and answer questions this next week....maybe they will approve me, maybe they wont...they have a hundred guys on the bench....and even though ive been in business since 2006 they wont give me a guy.....i lose and their members lose....its just stupid.....typical big government stuff

i could hire a laborer...but legally they wouldn't be able to touch plumbing...they would just be for demo and carrying tools....which isn't what i want....+ the cost of a laborer would be similar to an apprentice... ..........so its best to get an apprentice and have someone who's able to do anything....also someone i can train for the future

one reason i want to hire an apprentice is that i don't want to buy a van/tools yet....that's a $45,000 investment......i want to start out slow
 
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