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How do you handle growth with out going crazy?

7137 Views 46 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  GMack
I am trying to plan out the rest of my summer exterior work. I landed more home exteriors than I expected in addition to my regular condo exterior work. Trying to keep residential interior repaint work going, plus one large new construction job just has me spinning my wheels. I am running with one year round employee and 5 summer workers for the exteriors and need to hire 2-3 more summer helpers plus another year round painter. I have 2 subs working with my year round guy on a large new construction home. I feel like I am spending all my time driving between jobs it seems.

I want to start working on some contracts for next summer, start my first advertising/mailing ever, come up with a good system for finding a good year round employee, etc and just cannot do it all anymore.

I feel like I need to re-evaluate my entire pricing structure to be able to pay a good painter enough to keep them around (beginning to think the $45/hour billing rate is not unreasonable after all, especially if it is going to take 18-20/hr with a few perks, no health insurance). This would sink my new construction work though, since most of it is done T&M( at $35/hr) and how these jobs are scheduled, it would be impossible to bid them anyway.

How have you guys got through this stage in the business? I feel like I am now at the point where it is taking off to the extent that I should be able to (and need to) spend a couple days a week doing business work instead of painting all the time and doing business work in the evening, but making that transition is hard.
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First, congrats on reaching this point. It's not fun at the moment, but it's kind of like going through puberty-- lots of unusual things start happening and we aren't sure how to deal with them. Things will improve.

From my experience, it seems like you may be trying to do too much. If you need to micro-manage, you either have the wrong people or they haven't been trained well enough. It can be hard to let go if you have been on the site all of the time.

George Z once said that one day he realized that there was a lot of good paint work done in Toronto, and he hadn't done it. That's when he realized that others can do good work. (I am paraphrasing.)

We all reach a ceiling that requires a really tough decision. If we want our hands on the day to day production, our time will be stretched thin. If we can figure out a way to train/ empower others, that can free up our time.

There is nothing wrong with being in the bucket or having daily involvement in production, but it does take a lot of time. That is where we all need to decide what kind of business we want.

Brian Phillips
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When we started 18 years ago, we were in the bucket. Back then I had a partner. He and I got so busy that a time came when we knew that we had to divde up and grow. We added vans and men. We were up to 17 guys at the time. Well we came to a point when we new it was better to go on own own and we did. I started out with 9 guys and three vans. Since being on my own, I have never painted. I own and run a painting business. Well the 9 guys is now 23+ and we have more business and equiptment than I ever care to think about. Being "in the bucket" will leave you exactly there. Go to you will see that by adding employees to your business you can charge that $35 per hour that you were talking about and make much more than $45 and two guys. I bet that you will be surprised, your two guys and yourself probably need to charge around $65 an hour to make profits. Our rate per hour needs to be $31.25...yes that is all. At that rate we are far more competitive and win more jobs. I get paid, my wife gets paid, we make great margins, and go on vacation 5 weeks out of the year. Granted, most jobs are billed much higher, and that just means far greater profit.
Another great testimonial for knowing your numbers.

Brian Phillips
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