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Discussion Starter #1
We have had the opportunity with some of our more regular customers to get involved in some larger jobs and have always passed.

We are currently taking another look at some bath remodels. In fact, one of our regulars is begging us to redo her bathroom. We do not get involved in licenced plumbing or electrical work, both of which will be needed here. I would like to have the guys I've been referring work to for years do the parts of the job I can't but don't know how to approach them on maintaining some of my standards.

Do you ever set any requirements for your subs beyond doing a quality job. I'm talking more customer service oriented items here.

Thanks in advance for you input.
 

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Mrhandy said:
Do you ever set any requirements for your subs beyond doing a quality job. I'm talking more customer service oriented items here.
Mrhandy,
I'm not sure that I understand your question. But I'll see if maybe I can help. I would only use a sub that I would hire to do work on my own house. If he's not good enough for me, then he's not good enough for my customers.

Left to their own devices, a home owner will not hire the best sub, they will hire the best salesman. Big difference many times. Many subs do fantastic work, but you wouldn't want them to come in contact with your customer. LOL. They can be a "little rough around the edges" if you know what I mean. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's exactly my question. The electrician I have used is excellent and I always hesitate to refer him to certain customers because his tendency is to work on his own time in his own way and he marches to a different drummer. he does do excellent work, having put a new service in my house as well as my in-laws, however if you look at him...

Should I just keep looking till I find someone who more represents my vision, or take the quality work and try to soften the edges. I think I already know the answer, but his work is first rate.
 

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Mrhandy said:
That's exactly my question. The electrician I have used is excellent and I always hesitate to refer him to certain customers because his tendency is to work on his own time in his own way and he marches to a different drummer. he does do excellent work, having put a new service in my house as well as my in-laws, however if you look at him...

Should I just keep looking till I find someone who more represents my vision, or take the quality work and try to soften the edges. I think I already know the answer, but his work is first rate.
I had a helper working with me on a bathroom rehab. We were working with an interior decorator. The decorator was very snotty, very snooty, and very prudish. The helper and I had to remove a large cast iron radiator. The decorator said to my helper "There's a dolly in my van if you'd like to use it". My helper just let out a big laugh and replied, "Are you $#ittin' lady? By the time I move this radiator I'll be too tired to blow it up!" She didn't speak much to us after that.

Your situation is a judgement call. I think that if you talk to your customer about it, you will find that he or she will make allowances for this guy, just as you have.

You are talking about a sub. A sub is not enough. You need a list of subs for each trade. Then you can match the sub to the customer, and more importantly to the type of job. I think that maybe you're a little too worried about this. If you're going to make these larger jobs happen, you're going to have to cope with this situation from time to time. Sometimes your best sub is busy, and you have to work with the cards that you're dealt.

As a general contractor, your primary role is to get the job done. It is important to be professional, but this is a construction job, not a Sunday school class.

At times I have subs on the job that have as many as 10 employees. They don't all look like royalty believe me... :eek: :eek: :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think that soda just came out of my nose thinking about the "dolly".

Good advise on the multiple subs, I'm just trying to remember the guys that have helped me out in the past and would like to return the favor as I move forward, but I guess the customer must come first as always.
 

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Mrhandy said:
Should I just keep looking till I find someone who more represents my vision, or take the quality work and try to soften the edges. I think I already know the answer, but his work is first rate.
You're running into the problem that diffrentiates a General Contractor and somebody who runs a service business with perfectly little compartmentalized units running around doing extremely specificly defined work. If you want to be a GC and run remodelling jobs they are nothing like having a handyman you have working for you go out and install the same model garage door opener that he has installed 100 times before under the exact same circumstances 100 times before. Part of the job of being a GC on a remodelling job is to be there and see what is going on and getting your hands dirty everyday. Because you are doing it that way controlling a subs 'image' isn't an issue because you are there as the go between, between the client and the sub. If you don't want any part of that then you need a lead carpenter system in place for him to do it for you. A handyman working for you and a sub who works for himself are going to have nothing in common and you will not have the control you are used to.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
My largest issue is that I only wish to sub the parts I have to. I have over thirty years in construction between working for my father's frim and my involvement in the restaurant industry. I know the virtues of hard work and the hands on experience. I can and do handle just about every trade. However, the difficulty I have is that my guys can handle everything except the licenced work due to the licence. If it was my bathroom, I would do the plumbing and electrical and have my guys finish it off, but I am trying to develope a business model.

I'm just looking for advice on how to maintain the same image standards when utilizing subs for the parts of our projects we can't legally do. My companies manpower has a combined 150 years experience, but we are not licenced in NJ for electric and plumbing. These are the trades I need to involve to get into some larger jobs. It is not really my choice to do this work, however my customers are demanding it. What I do know is that I must maintain the experience they are used to.


Thanks for the guidance.
 

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If you don't like the reality of the situation as it stands and it sounds like you don't, if you don't want to supervise in the field and you don't want to go the route of the lead carpenter then my advice would be to get a license electrician and a licensed plumber on staff and do enough bathroom remodelling to make it cost effective. If you can't or won't do that then welcome back to reality. Installing garage door openners and changing light bulbs has little to do with doing a remodel as you are finding out. Sometimes the smartest guy is the guy who realizes sticking to what you can do and doing it well is more profitable than trying to be all things to all people. The next time somebody calls you about a remodeling job, just tell them the truth, "We can't do remodeling, do you have any lightbulbs you want changed for $80 an hour?"
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Mike Finley said:
If you don't like the reality of the situation as it stands and it sounds like you don't, if you don't want to supervise in the field and you don't want to go the route of the lead carpenter then my advice would be to get a license electrician and a licensed plumber on staff and do enough bathroom remodelling to make it cost effective. If you can't or won't do that then welcome back to reality. Installing garage door openners and changing light bulbs has little to do with doing a remodel as you are finding out. Sometimes the smartest guy is the guy who realizes sticking to what you can do and doing it well is more profitable than trying to be all things to all people. The next time somebody calls you about a remodeling job, just tell them the truth, "We can't do remodeling, do you have any lightbulbs you want changed for $80 an hour?"
Oh boy, you must be right. I'll just stick to light bulbs. Thanks for your advise.
 

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No problem. Don't forget garage door openers.

Why don't ya call corporate and have them send you the manual on doing bathroom remodels?

Sorry you don't like the advice, but often we don't like the advice we are given because we don't want to admit it is true.

I do remodeling and I am looking at a handy man service, but I wouldn't even think of mixing the two work forces or jobs. There is definitly a defined line between which type of projects are best suited to which business.

The hype and garbage that all handyman love to think is that they can do ANYTHING. That what sets them apart from the other handyman companies is how versatile and professional they are, and they can do anything from hanging X-mas lights to a $100,000 kitchen remodel. They can say that crap all they want, but the reality of the situation is that you do some things well and others you are streching way beyond your comfort zone. If you truly have your customers best interest in mind, you would consider that perhaps I am not serving their best interests by trying to do everything, instead of doing a scope of work really well that my business is set up to service.

The very issues you are facing with this scope of work are demonstrating the limitations you have. Somebody wants a garage door openner installed - you don't face these limitations - think about it. Like I said we sometimes don't want to face the facts because we don't like the answers.

Besides anybody who knows how to run a business is smart enough to know that you better serve your business by continuing to do more and more of what you do well, thereby increasing market share. When companies start looking to the fringes to increase revenue that is a sure sign that there is a problem. Do you think Mcdonalds needs to rent DVDs because they are on a mission to serve their customer base better, or because they have maxed out thier potential for growth in the USA and need to look to alternative methods of generating sales and revenue.

Stick to your core and do it better and better than anybody else.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Mike Finley said:
No problem. Don't forget garage door openers.

Why don't ya call corporate and have them send you the manual on doing bathroom remodels?

Sorry you don't like the advice, but often we don't like the advice we are given because we don't want to admit it is true.

I do remodeling and I am looking at a handy man service, but I wouldn't even think of mixing the two work forces or jobs. There is definitly a defined line between which type of projects are best suited to which business.

The hype and garbage that all handyman love to think is that they can do ANYTHING. That what sets them apart from the other handyman companies is how versatile and professional they are, and they can do anything from hanging X-mas lights to a $100,000 kitchen remodel. They can say that crap all they want, but the reality of the situation is that you do some things well and others you are streching way beyond your comfort zone. If you truly have your customers best interest in mind, you would consider that perhaps I am not serving their best interests by trying to do everything, instead of doing a scope of work really well that my business is set up to service.

The very issues you are facing with this scope of work are demonstrating the limitations you have. Somebody wants a garage door openner installed - you don't face these limitations - think about it. Like I said we sometimes don't want to face the facts because we don't like the answers.

Besides anybody who knows how to run a business is smart enough to know that you better serve your business by continuing to do more and more of what you do well, thereby increasing market share. When companies start looking to the fringes to increase revenue that is a sure sign that there is a problem. Do you think Mcdonalds needs to rent DVDs because they are on a mission to serve their customer base better, or because they have maxed out thier potential for growth in the USA and need to look to alternative methods of generating sales and revenue.

Stick to your core and do it better and better than anybody else.
It just may be that I'm hoping to find some Men who don't need to be watched every minute to be sure they shave and look like someone I would let into a customer's home. Perhaps you have already given up on that hope. That is sad.

What we do we do very well. The success of my company has allowed me to attract first rate men who were not good businessmen, but believe me they have the skills. What I'm trying to do is satisfy my customer's requests. They apparently don't like the guys that you like to hire. Your subs have left the door open. I'm trying to close it.
 

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Mrhandy said:
... Perhaps you have already given up on that hope. That is sad...

...They apparently don't like the guys that you like to hire...

...not a very good way to solicit help here. :rolleyes:
 

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I hope that nobody takes this wrong, but sometimes being blunt is better than being diplomatic:

Use subs that get the f******* job done. Customers LIKE that experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
mikesewell said:
I hope that nobody takes this wrong, but sometimes being blunt is better than being diplomatic:

Use subs that get the f******* job done. Customers LIKE that experience.
I agree Mike.

I just don't get the responses to my questions. If no one would like to offer advice or help, I understand. If anyone assumes that because I run a franchised business and I am therefore an idiot or have no right to work at anything except lightbulbs they are very wrong. However, the question is not about what I should be doing or not doing in my business. That is for me to decide. I'm just trying to get some perspective on what the experts on this board think.

Every question I ask I get attacked. No one in the industry seems to acknowledge there is an image problem. That is what our customers are telling us and I would like to do something about it. I am getting the impression that not everyone is welcome on this board, so sad.
 

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Bob,
Many times in my posts, I have said, "the customer left to his own devices, will hire the best salesman, not the best contractor".

What can I say?

None of these guys would be a good choice for ambassador to North Korea. Contractors do not represent a cross section of the population, they're a different breed of cat.
 

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Okay, first off it is fun to take a shot at you, I admit that. Secondly if you think that saying you guys install light bulbs for $80 an hour is an insult to your expertese, then STOP SAYING IT YOURSELF! :cheesygri

Mrhandy said:
I just don't get the responses to my questions. If no one would like to offer advice or help, I understand. If anyone assumes that because I run a franchised business and I am therefore an idiot or have no right to work at anything except lightbulbs they are very wrong.
Here is the f'n answer to your question again. But like I said you don't like the answers.

1) Do what a GC on a remodel does and supervise the work and be the buffer between the client and the subs.

2) Bring on a lead carpenter system and have your lead carpenter do #1 for you.

3) Hire a license plumber and electrician. Employees can be told and made to wear uniforms, cut their hair, brush their teeth, not scratch their balls in front of the customer and not take giant ********************s in their toilets and forget to flush.

- SUBS CAN'T. The very nature of a sub-contractor arangment just looking at the IRS requirements doesn't allow you to control them to the degree you can with an employee.

Moral of the story once again - you can't do everything. You have 3 choices on how to do what you want to do with full scale remodeling work, if your system won't allow you to do any of them, guess what Einstein? You can't do it! Is that because you are a franchise? I don't know, I suspect it is because you are a HANDY MAN SERVICE and not a GC. :rolleyes:

Now stop your whining and go send in your royalty check. :cheesygri
 

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Mrhandy said:
Every question I ask I get attacked. No one in the industry seems to acknowledge there is an image problem. That is what our customers are telling us and I would like to do something about it.
You are dealing with a different breed of hammer swinger. The guy with no license, in a 1967 pick up doing odd jobs. You got those guys beat. On this board you are dealing with the cream of the crop, the guys doing the jobs you are trying to figure out how to do. We don't have an image problem, because the guys here are the solution to that problem already. Can't you tell just by how smart we are? :cheesygri

On another note, on those small jobs image may be a problem, on big jobs it ain't about image its about substance, performance and delivering the goods, not looking like a cookie cutter mr. clean. - At least not yet anyways! :cheesygri
 

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You guys sure told him...
Soon it 'll be a nice cozy little six member board.

Why are you so angry :evil: at a "franchise owner" who has enough entreprenurial spirit to try to fill a need for a client? He had what he thought was enough sense to know who to ask.

There are several stories of successful large GC's starting new small projects or handyman divisions. I agree with you that the two business types don't mix very well but the uniformed professional handyman services are doing something right. Don't you think in the long run it would be better to work together than ignore a concept that's hot on your heels?
 

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HB Construction said:
You guys sure told him...
Soon it 'll be a nice cozy little six member board.
www.contractortalk.com has currently got 2158 members and is growing rapidly.

Finley's highly analytical and insightful :eek: contributions will probably add 10% to the growth in the next couple of months. Not to be ignored are the unique perspectives of other living legends such as Teetor, Pipe, Glass, Masterstrokes, etc. These fine men are quickly becoming icons in the contracting community across the nation, and around the globe.
 
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