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Old 02-19-2017, 04:37 PM   #1
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Default Company size question

Hello everyone! New member here and I love this site. I'm finding tons of useful information, so thanks!

I've read in more then a few posts that once owners grew their companies past a certain point that they lost money. Ive read that it just wasn't worth it to them at that point. Most said they made more money when they were smaller with a few employees under their wing. My question is why? Obviously I know the main reasons. Higher payroll, more material expense, taxes etc.. etc... But, if that's the case why would any company in any industry, not just painting decide to take it big time. There's got to be some benefits to going big. Is it mismanagement, bidding way to low in an effort just to keep enough work to keep your staff busy, creating to much overhead?? I'm just really curious. I've newly ventured out on my own and have landed quite a bit of work in a very short period of time. So, I'm up in the air of how I want to proceed business wise.

I appreciate any help and advice!
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Old 02-19-2017, 04:45 PM   #2
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Just a brief reply - We do have some large operations represented here and they seem to be very successful so I tend to think it's more about the business acumen of the owner(s) than about the trade itself. Bottom line, being a great painter doesn't often translate into being a great business person.
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:19 PM   #3
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Thats what I was thinking. Thanks for your input!
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:26 PM   #4
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IMHO it's about the owners ability to MANAGE the crews without working on the jobs himself. Without the proper systems in place productivity will go down when the boss isn't present. Too many people grow without the proper plan in place first.
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:38 PM   #5
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IMHO it's about the owners ability to MANAGE the crews without working on the jobs himself. Without the proper systems in place productivity will go down when the boss isn't present. Too many people grow without the proper plan in place first.
"Ahhh, it's a systems deal!"
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Old 02-21-2017, 05:02 PM   #6
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IMHO, 90% of the issues result from not charging enough, as it relates to "going big". Yes, big companies have some "systems" etc but not necessarily as fine tuned as you might think. I know plenty of guys firsthand that run 50+ guys with ZERO systems on paper, its all just in their head. The most imporant thing imo, is that you charge enough to be able to afford the problems that crop up.
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Old 02-21-2017, 07:11 PM   #7
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I like to be hands on. We grew to at one point 8 guys and multiple jobs going. I was going out of my mind because these jobs were spread out over an hour drive each way. my business partner who was doing all the business paper work stuff and painting when she could so I was running around non stop. I didn't like it much. We thought we had the right guys but as soon as I was gone work slowed down. This year we are staying just Carly and myself.
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Old 02-21-2017, 11:48 PM   #8
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I have up to seven guys and had the same problem as Dave. I don't like the headache of it,plus I'm too old to want to do it. Larger means each crew has a crew leader, for every three or for crews you need a supervisor then an office staff then it get's hard to find people. My market area is too small for that so even if I wanted to get bigger it would be hard.
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Old 02-22-2017, 01:42 AM   #9
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Great post guys, I haven't been on here in awhile but I'll try my best, I think systems are key and how projects get executed, the company I work for runs 20-25 guys steady and up to 60 during summer months, each project has a foreman directing guys and superintendent to support all the foreman, on top of that a project manager is in place in their office to make sure client is happy and taken care of, I think before going too big make sure you have the crew to expand and always keep firing and hiring until u have good skills sets from different guys, in the end I would assume going big can work if you have proper systems in place, and key is to bid properly and smartly imo
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Old 02-26-2017, 06:46 AM   #10
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There's just not eneough work in my are for large or multiple crews unless you work for bird food doing NC. If the work is there and good systems along with trustable good workforce go for it.
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Old 02-28-2017, 02:07 PM   #11
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We have 7 crews for our residential division and 12 crews for our commercial division at present. Each crew has a crew leader and over top of him is the person that sold the work. We have 7 sales people spread over the company.

2 residential sales
1 commercial repaint sales
1 commercial garage and wayfaring sales
1 institutional sales
1 commercial contracting (construction)
1 res/comm at satellite office in Richmond

We have a dedicated business manager, HR director and an office manager.

We have a total of 67 painters and crew leaders.

Total employees: 77

More employees allows us to undertake larger projects. What's more and most importantly we have more employees working contributing to paying off the fixed costs.

IE: if you have to rent a shop or purchase a vehicle, that cost is fixed. It doesn't change no matter how many employees you have.
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roamer View Post
We have 7 crews for our residential division and 12 crews for our commercial division at present. Each crew has a crew leader and over top of him is the person that sold the work. We have 7 sales people spread over the company.

2 residential sales
1 commercial repaint sales
1 commercial garage and wayfaring sales
1 institutional sales
1 commercial contracting (construction)
1 res/comm at satellite office in Richmond

We have a dedicated business manager, HR director and an office manager.

We have a total of 67 painters and crew leaders.

Total employees: 77

More employees allows us to undertake larger projects. What's more and most importantly we have more employees working contributing to paying off the fixed costs.

IE: if you have to rent a shop or purchase a vehicle, that cost is fixed. It doesn't change no matter how many employees you have.
Did you start out with one team? How long before you had 2 teams? 7 residential crews year round? Love to hear company history if you don't mind sharing.

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Old 03-02-2017, 11:32 AM   #13
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We started with one truck and one crew in 1987. We had a second crew within 1 year. My partner got out of the bucket when we had the second crew up and running. Crews have been added as needed since. I worked painting for the first 17 years before I got out of the bucket. At that time, we had four residential crews and 4 commercial crews.

Last spring/summer/fall season we could have doubled the number of residential crews if there were enough suitable candidates for crew leader. Sadly, it is a very tough position to fill.

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Old 03-04-2017, 07:14 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the feedback guys. I'm still very new and I'm in no position to add crews yet. But, I'm really trying to learn and start laying the foundation for the future. Thanks.
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Old 03-05-2017, 09:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roamer View Post
we had the second crew up and running. Crews have been added as needed since.
Curious, how big is a "crew" for you guys? Doing the residential side.
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Old 03-06-2017, 08:24 AM   #16
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Crew's vary in size depending on job type. Typically, our crews are three men. One crew leader and two painters. Each crew has one of our trucks/vans and all the tools necessary to complete just about any exterior or interior residential project.
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