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So far behind......

heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
I never noticed how much a few hours out of a few days each week can get me so far behind, with everything going on rite now, the house fire, my son being sick, season change work, ect. I can not keep up...

I am subbing out my AC work rite now just to catch up on the boiler work, I have 8 boilers out there delivered waiting for installation, luckily I have great customers but I am working 7 days a week, trying to work as late as possible and still not catching up, I hate having to give excuses, I just need a few more hours added onto each day...

But I am in a hard position, do I suffer through until I catch up or hire another tech? I hate to hire another tech since I don't have an extra truck for him and I know after I am caught up I will not need him.....


  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Time to decide if you are going to the next level.

    If you love what you do, and love the challenge of doing it, but hate the business of business, keep doing what you are doing and keep trying to make money while working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you drop dead tomorrow in front of some customers (the crabby ones), they will step over your body to get to the phone to find someone else to finish. After they find that someone, they might come back to see if you are alive and if they should call 911.

    My wife reminds me to this day about all of her birthdays (June 25) that she spent under a house with me while I was trying to finish up some P-Poor contractors bad planning.

    If you hate doing the business of business, don't do it. But you need to either do that, or the other, installations. Suck up training people to go to work, all trained by you to your competitors who take advantage of your free training program.

    If you're working 60 hours a week to get by, and you're talented at running things, and you don't like the business of business, you'd probably make more money working for someone else who will pay you for your skills and appreciate you. You'll have time for a sick child. And its cheaper than a divorce.

    Decision time.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Well said Chris...

    Been there, done that and have the divorce papers to prove it!

    Consider this. You can kill yourself working IN the business, or…. Hire a good technician, spend a month working with him out of your truck to get them familiar with your modus operandi, then turn them loose, and you stay in the office doing sales and working ON the business. It can be less stressful if you get the right person.

    90% of people who are in business have no idea what they are doing when it comes to running the business. Too busy trying to take care of the work at hand to be able to stop, look backwards, look forwards and make certain that all the efforts are worth while. I was one of them…

    And trust me, there are a LOT of over qualified veterans out there looking for long term gainful employment. Hire a vet.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    And don't pay them like an illegal immigrant.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    making lots of $$?

    working that many hours and that much backlog you'd better be getting a very good wage. Sometimes increasing prices, and reducing backlog pencils out much better for you, your family, your health, and the waiting customer.

    Better be considering a 6 figure income for what you know and provide the community.

    Hang in there, take a weekend off, regroup and mull over your plan.

    Partner with a fellow contractor to help catch up. I have seen this work well in several of the areas I travel. I know a few Colorado contractors that compete but help each other in crunch times, same with contractors I have met in California and Wisconsin. Like the trade guilds of day gone by.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Quote from an old graybeard

    back in the mid '80s when I was first getting started.  He saw me running myself ragged after I hired my first employee.  To paraphrase:  Contracting is not about building houses -- it's mostly about labor, materials, and cashflow management.

    I've seen far too many truly great craftsmen turn into truly bad contractors -- in every trade.  It's HARD.  They guys I know who are truly successful frequently have a partner (sometimes a wife) who RUNS the business.  The mindset and skillset required to make a real craftsman are quite different from those that make a great office manager, salesperson, bill collector, etc.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Not Behind

    You need to change the way you look at your situation. The boilers will be installed before they are needed. That is the promise you make to the customers waiting,not a date or hour. Stop adding pressure to a stressful situation. Don't de-value your services by working weekends. You need that downtime to recharge. On Saturdays, you and your wife get a massage, play with the kids, go fishing, whatever.Sundays are for family dinners, church, picnics, and anything but work. Life will pass you by, and the older you get the faster it goes. Don't miss out on the things that make it special.
  • Harvey Ramer
    Harvey Ramer Member Posts: 2,239
    I like Hot Rods advice.

    Think about this for a minute. You know those huge companies that charge really high prices because they have to too cover the overhead and still make money? Now when somebody hires this company they are getting either a good or bad technician to do the very same job that you can readily do. Question is, are you better than that technician? Are you smarter? Does your install look nicer and incorporate better product? Biggest one, are you giving the customer more value? If so, you have every right, and should, charge more than that big company. I do and it works great! They hire me because they want ME at their house doing the work. I win bids against large companies all the time even if my price is higher.

    Side note, I thought this method might control work flow, but it doesn't. Every time I increase my prices, I get a lot busier :-)

  • heatpro02920
    heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Thank you guys,

    I appreciate the advice, I have a few guys working, A/C tech, Sheet metal Tech, carpenter, and helper. The jobs go pretty smooth for the most part, I am no stranger to how to run the day to day ops and get the work done... I think the stem of the stress I am feeling is my personal issues, with the house fire and my sons illness returning that is wearing me down more than the work... I just got home, its quarter to 10 and everyone is sleeping, I am sitting in my office planning tomorrow.... I just wish the days were a little longer for a few months so I could catch up...

    Obviously the money is good and the reason I do it, and I tell my self things like "I am going to sub out the a/c this year" but then today I sent out 3 cooling proposals.... I am interviewing 2 techs next week hopefully I see some potential in one or both of them...

    As soon as I catch up I am going to evaluate how I am running this, I am going to try to get behind the desk more and behind the wrench less...
  • M Lane
    M Lane Member Posts: 123
    And another thing....

    Anyone else notice how few people under 30 are in the trade? Part of the problem, no one to take our load off.

    Having the same issues, only add in night sweats (and an old prostate) so being exhausted is part of the issue.
  • gennady
    gennady Member Posts: 839
    young people in trade

    I do not see young capable people in the trade as well. And find a good technician. Good luck. This is the situation where education system failed work place.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,103
    I've seen 'em, the young-ins

    First define "young" :) Under 30 is my number for young.

    I estimate 10-15% of the group that I train in front of are under 30. Mostly contractors with a blend of reps, wholesalers and engineers.

    I've been on the road 10 weeks already this year, I'd guess close to 1000 attendees.

    I have also noticed more young attendees at the trade shows in the past few years. The CMX show in Toronto recently, probably had close to 40% young attendees as they brought bus loads of Trade Tech schools to the show.

    A good gauge is the number of freebies that start leaving the booth.

    We certainly need more young people in our industry!

    A higher % of youth in the engineering field, from my observation. A swing through NYC last fall and the ME groups were mostly 30ish, men and women.

    The western states seem to have more young people in plbg and HVAC business.. Ferguson Supply seems to target young employees out west, many in their 20, with a career path defined.

    For the hands on, wrench pullers, the young folks are often in family businesses. Plenty of 3rd generation, small shops in the east and midwest.

    Keep spreading the word that young men and women are in fact looking at our industry and jumping in, to help persuade the "lookers".

    I'll start polling my groups, with a show of hands to get better numbers. I'd ask other trainers to do the same so we can get some more accurate numbers.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
    Having failed in the contracting business

    I have a great deal of respect for those who do it and do it well.I could design it, sell it, install it and service it. I could do everything but run the business. I will say that probably the least expensive and most useful help is to get someone in the office to handle that end of things. that keeps you out in the field, selling, installing, servicing. There are plenty of capable young Mom's who would love half days and can keep things in order for you. I never liked working with my wife. Not her fault, all mine. I need separation between church and state. When she worked with me in the little down time she would make a work comment I'd be back "on" again.

    In my case, I couldn't have worked any harder. I also couldn't have worked any dumber. I've had over 30 yrs to think about it and both the above statements are true. I too was doing the 7/12-16 thing and ultimately just said to heck with it. I burned myself down! A few years after that I ended up working for a rep and ultimately had my own business again. More successful and better suited to my talents. I think a lot of reps would do better if they hired out of the trade. The 20+ yrs in the trades made me a better rep. There are other opportunities in the industry should you choose to go that way, ala HR and ME and others.

    A lot of good advice here. I like Ice's post as well as others. The family has to come first. Ultimately it is all you have and you are certainly all they have. It is hard when you are blasted minute by minute to look down the road, but you must do it and it is a good thing to include your wife in the conversation because she has bought into whatever you are doing and will appreciate the opportunity to have some input. I see installation as a young(er) mans game. Yes, you can do it, but you will also feel it.

    One of the things that got me out of the business was the people I hired. In fairness, I can't blame them completely because I was running around with my hair on fire all the time. That was when I had hair.

    On a more positive note, you are busy. Congrats, not all can say that. Question is, are you making money? Are you making enough to make it worth while?

    I enjoy your posts. I wish you well and hope your sons health improves! As Dan says, hug your kids...and I might add, your bride! Happy Trails!
  • Ross_24
    Ross_24 Member Posts: 82

    If all your available hours are full and you don't wish to expand your business, simply raise your prices. Raising your prices helps to lower your demand, but keep your sales/profits going smoothly. All while giving you a break.

    The other option, like others mentioned, is to make the decision to work on your business instead of in it. You'd be amazed how much more can be accomplished when you move yourself into the office and focus on analyzing your company numbers. You'll have much more time to create quality accounting practices and watch your margins.

    Sounds like you have a great opportunity! Congrats.