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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

I've been a fence installer for the past few years and I enjoy what I do, but I want "more". My boss is a great guy, but something tells me it's time to take the plunge and start a business of my own.

I've been thinking about it for a long time and I'm on the fence (no pun intended) about starting my own fence business.

I know being a business owner is definitely a tough thing to do, but I feel ready for it!

My questions is: To all the fence business owners out there or those that know the biz well enough, what are the biggest problems/ challenges for you?

I'm curious because depending on what I hear, I might want to learn more while I'm still an employee before I make the commitment to get started on my own.

I'm glad to be hear, everyone is so helpful.

Thanks guys for your help,
Derek
 

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Not sure if you are wanting to learn more about fence building or about the business aspect of things. Probably you are referring to the business side of it since I imagine once you build fences for while you should be good to go in most cases.

I would suggest going to Amazon and getting the Markup & Profit. After you read it you will understand much more about pricing jobs correctly and running a business. You will probably consider it one of the smartest business learning experiences you could have given yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
SailingandSuch,

Thanks for the prompt reply.

I heard about that book, I will definitely check it out.

I want to know more of the business-side of things since I do want to start my own fence business.

I just keep hearing of the "nightmares" of the industry from my current boss such as being underbid all the time, difficulty of finding leads...

I'm just curious if these are the biggest concerns and/ or if there are any more that people currently in the business are facing.

Thanks again for your help!
Derek
 

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John Hyatt
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Derek, with You and your boss getting along that well it might be time to bring up a partnership of some kind.

I would definitely entertain a request from an employee as up and coming as you seem to be. In fact I am always looking for that kind of Man.

It's a whole lot easier to win the war keeping your commanders than fighting without them.

JonMon www.deckmastersllc.com
 

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Retired deck builder
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I would suggest getting a couple of home builders in your pocket. Getting enough leads to keep a fence company going will be tough without someone passing you steady work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
John Hyatt,

That's a good suggestion.

From my understanding, however, a co-worker of mine approached my boss about this a few months ago, but my boss declined because "he works better alone".

I forgot about that option though so thanks for bringing it up.

I wish that was an option, but apparently it isn't (right now anyways).

Derek
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Deckman22,

Good idea! I need to start building up my network and homebuilders are going to be on top of my list!

From what I keep hearing (and reading) - getting leads is the toughest part of the business (so far). Having a good relationship with a home builder would help keep work in the pipeline.

Thanks again,
Derek
 

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Retired deck builder
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Best advertising money you'll ever spend is on a website. Make sure you use a webguy that can get you listed with google. Done right & it will make a steady supply of retail leads.
 

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Pro
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1 marketing
2 marketing
3 don't put fence on someone else's lawn .
Everything else will fall in place when you have cash in the bank . Cause you need customers to make money .
 

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John Hyatt
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Reason I asked is the money would be easier to get together putting up wood fence rather than chain link.

Of course the payday would be less too.

J.
 

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I know I spent thousands and thousands of dollars buying tools, trucks, trailers, augers, and so forth the first 5 years. I was single and already retired from the military so I could afford to plow money back into the business. Before I left a steady job I would collect as many tools as I could before I started. You will need advertizing to get up there and compete with the established contractors for jobs. It is expensive, and will take time. Property leasing - you want to get your own storefront as soon as you can, in the fencing business it will make a difference. Get your admin stuff going, all the forms you will need and so forth. Taxes, taxes, taxes, workers comp...... Payroll. I don't think in fencing you will be able to specialize, I know I can't. I build Chain Link, Wood (Pressure Treated Pine, Cypress, Western Red Cedar and Ipe) Ornamental Aluminum, and Vinyl. We are also Pressure Wash and stain more fences and decks than everybody else in our market combined. We own it and we love it. Make contact with your fence suppliers, fence, stain, HD, Lowes contractor accounts, it is really good if you are financially stable enough to hire that first employee without having to worry about incoming paydays to have to get the cash to pay them. Website very, very important.
 

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I'm not positive, but I can imagine the fence business is very very competitive. The good news just about every home in SoCal has a fence. The crap thing I am finding out the cities are requiring permits for fences over 3-1/2 feet high. Newport Beach is one and Whittier is another. I lived in N. San Diego County for 30 years and permits are becoming apart of everything anymore. Good luck!
 

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Californiadecks said:
I'm not positive, but I can imagine the fence business is very very competitive. The good news just about every home in SoCal has a fence. The crap thing I am finding out the cities are requiring permits for fences over 3-1/2 feet high. Newport Beach is one and Whittier is another. I lived in N. San Diego County for 30 years and permits are becoming apart of everything anymore. Good luck!
Do people build fences less than 3-1/2 feet tall?
 

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Sure Border Fences, or Divider Fences we call them. I have one I gave a quote for the other to put in front of some terraced landscaping timbers. ( no he did not want to replace the timbers, it's a long story?) The first section was 4 ' high and the next section was 2 feet high. The quote was to build a solid fence in front on them and have it come over the top with 2 pieces of 5/4 board so as to form a bench. My has 3' chain link but I'm not sure if I have ever installed the 3'. You can also get Aluminum for really short applications.
 

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Sprtman said:
Sure Border Fences, or Divider Fences we call them. I have one I gave a quote for the other to put in front of some terraced landscaping timbers. ( no he did not want to replace the timbers, it's a long story?) The first section was 4 ' high and the next section was 2 feet high. The quote was to build a solid fence in front on them and have it come over the top with 2 pieces of 5/4 board so as to form a bench. My has 3' chain link but I'm not sure if I have ever installed the 3'. You can also get Aluminum for really short applications.
Makes a lot of sense. Around here we use big pine trees to divide property. Lots of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Best advertising money you'll ever spend is on a website. Make sure you use a webguy that can get you listed with google. Done right & it will make a steady supply of retail leads.
I keep hearing this. Definitely something I will keep in mind. What do you think is a "good" price to pay for a website? I know you "get what you pay for", but having an idea of a ballpark figure would be helpful.



1 marketing
2 marketing
3 don't put fence on someone else's lawn .
Everything else will fall in place when you have cash in the bank . Cause you need customers to make money .
Marketing - I agree. I noticed that a lot of fence guys in my area still market in the yellow book and magazines. I plan to do some marketing on the internet... We'll see what happens, I'll need some revenue first before I get ahead of myself! :)

I know I spent thousands and thousands of dollars buying tools, trucks, trailers, augers, and so forth the first 5 years. I was single and already retired from the military so I could afford to plow money back into the business. Before I left a steady job I would collect as many tools as I could before I started. You will need advertizing to get up there and compete with the established contractors for jobs. It is expensive, and will take time. Property leasing - you want to get your own storefront as soon as you can, in the fencing business it will make a difference. Get your admin stuff going, all the forms you will need and so forth. Taxes, taxes, taxes, workers comp...... Payroll. I don't think in fencing you will be able to specialize, I know I can't. I build Chain Link, Wood (Pressure Treated Pine, Cypress, Western Red Cedar and Ipe) Ornamental Aluminum, and Vinyl. We are also Pressure Wash and stain more fences and decks than everybody else in our market combined. We own it and we love it. Make contact with your fence suppliers, fence, stain, HD, Lowes contractor accounts, it is really good if you are financially stable enough to hire that first employee without having to worry about incoming paydays to have to get the cash to pay them. Website very, very important.
Thanks for so many nuggets! It looks like I will need to get some jobs to start generating some cash and then advertise. Tools - okay, I don't have too many tools right now, but I'll do something to fix that problem. And then from there, worry about everything else that you mentioned. It looks like a website is a big deal... I have a general question about a website and advertising, I'll make a separate post for it.
 
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