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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life. It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.

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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life.

It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.
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  #11  
Old 06-19-2009, 02:55 PM
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If you could drive the situation now into any direction, which direction do you feel would be ideal?

Also do you feel you have now or can create a business and operational plan for the next 12 months? Or is this still in the feeling out stages to see what the potential is?

I am sure there are others reading this who find themselves in a similar situation but don't have your experience to help in overcoming it.
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  #12  
Old 06-19-2009, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
If you could drive the situation now into any direction, which direction do you feel would be ideal?

Also do you feel you have now or can create a business and operational plan for the next 12 months? Or is this still in the feeling out stages to see what the potential is?

I am sure there are others reading this who find themselves in a similar situation but don't have your experience to help in overcoming it.
I am sure I speak for may when I say if I have a crystal ball I would know the direction to take.

I can build an operational plan based on my current abilities, equipment, vehicles and staff, what I can't get my head around is how to handle peaks of inquiries, even though I have pulled advertising I received seven inquiries from the website today, there is no way I am going to change things to drop my rankings yet I am finding it difficult to respond to these people, I mean what do you say, too busy .....sorry??? That doesn't sit well with me.

I hanve a handle on our abilities and what all the equipment can do, I could throw another $160,000 into this from my other company and the issues would be fixed as I would have the equipment to handle this peak but I do not want to do that, I "think" I want to go back to running a simple company, 7 or 8 employees and just ride it through and have some fun.

Sprayed all day with one of the tractors, I love spraying on the X500, in and out in 20 min or less, no pressure, just you and the machine and time to think.

Calls for rain for two days so I will have time to figure this out, part of me is tempted to sub out to some local companies not doing so well but that brings on a whole bunch of headaches if they do not do quality work and I honestly do not need any head aches at the moment.

I'll post back, I was pretty down yesterday when I wrote this, it was a desperate hard day, ran a chain saw it the heat for 7 hours, not a fun thing but that crew was behind and I can really cut wood when I go at it.

Anyhow, have a super weekend, Happy Fathers Day to all, and don't forget about dad.

Andy
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  #13  
Old 06-19-2009, 06:17 PM
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A couple of things I wonder is, first off, is it a big deal to schedule any of the excavating stuff into the future? Can the customers understand this is a busy time of year and its no rush or do they demand service asap?

Is it possible that the time issue is something you are more worried about than your customers?

Also, at what point does the management of the staff become a big pain in the butt and how is it best to handle this? Can there be different crews that are given a task and can operate their crew like a small business? Where a crew manager gets a % of the job and therefor feels they are being compensated for the running their own staff or is this not a good way to go?
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  #14  
Old 06-19-2009, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
A couple of things I wonder is, first off, is it a big deal to schedule any of the excavating stuff into the future? Can the customers understand this is a busy time of year and its no rush or do they demand service asap?

Is it possible that the time issue is something you are more worried about than your customers?

Also, at what point does the management of the staff become a big pain in the butt and how is it best to handle this? Can there be different crews that are given a task and can operate their crew like a small business? Where a crew manager gets a % of the job and therefor feels they are being compensated for the running their own staff or is this not a good way to go?
Very Good questions:

The excavation is booked at the moment into the last week of July, I allowed for three rain days a week, for example if we rained on a Monday and Tuesday, we would use Saturday and Sunday to catch up. I allow one day a month for maintenance per crew.

The time issue is being pushed by clients and myself, I would guess 90% of the time the client needs you within a week, it could be a water coming in the house problem, I have stumps to remove and want top soil spread and sod, etc.

Crap happens, I book the equipment, all of which is new into the schedule, I do not allow for repairs because it should be fine, however for example, one of the new excavators started loosing it's tracks at 20 hours, cost is about 4 hours one day putting them back on, John Deere investigated and discovered 80 some of these units were recalled, mine was one however it never received the replacement track, the local dealer was wild, anyhow they flew new tracks in however we lost three days of good weather then it rained for two, that put us 5 days behind.

Then lets say you ask me to level an area, I quote 7 hours, my staff do the job, you like it and want an additional area done, or you find more stumps or rocks, it doesn't make sense for me financially to move the gear and come back so we do it, I would guess this happens 80 percent of the time, clients like what they see and ask for the staff to do a little more, I have seen $1,100.00 quotes turn into $4,500 plus on a very regular basis, so now you are really far behind and people start calling.

This industry is known for not being reliable from sales calls to showing up on time, I didn't want to be one of those companies.

I was thinking while walking the dog tonight I could rent or lease one for a few weeks but I do not have anyone trained up yet, we cross train which is critical however the staff being trained are too green to let loose on your property, these units will do serious damage in seconds if you do not know what you are doing, so there is a learning curve issue.

We hired an operator a few weeks ago who graduated from heavy equipment at the community college, I would rate his work fair to good and we discuss each completed project, yes I am fussy but people are going to get what we discussed and what they are paying for, anyhow I wanted tomorrow off, a client calls at supper Ben had finished his drain and excavating an area for a garage, he was concerned so I went to see, I was concerned to as it wasn;t done right, called the employee to see why it was done this way, no real answer, so I have to go back tomorrow and fix it myself as the employee is about three hours away for the fathers day weekend.

I don't really have staff issues per say other than everyone wants to run equipment, the team leaders do a good job however there is no supervisor on the excavation side and sitting here thinking there should be as we have five units out there, a supervisor could watch the progress and correct issues, hummm thinking that is something I could do which would take some heat off.

The issue Steve is when you have this many staff, keeping track of hours, sometimes the employee doesn't agree with hours paid, inputting all this, doing the tax reports etc. it's desperate time consuming.

I think I need a mature 2nd in command, my son does an excellent job at what he does and perhaps I need to loosen the rope a little more.
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  #15  
Old 06-19-2009, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
I think I need a mature 2nd in command, my son does an excellent job at what he does and perhaps I need to loosen the rope a little more.
It's situations like this where opportunities present themselves that people get a chance to rise to the occasion and take on the task at hand. I'd love to see how it all works out with him.

Scaling up operations like this and having proper management must be tough. It does make you think this must be why the whole franchise concept was created, to spread the management needs to a greater group while also pass on a greater opportunity to be paid for that increased responsibility.

Either that, or just having slower growth over time would potentially allow for staff to be better trained and have more a desire to get things done the proper way because they would want to keep their job over the long haul.
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  #16  
Old 06-19-2009, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
I don't really have staff issues per say other than everyone wants to run equipment, the team leaders do a good job however there is no supervisor on the excavation side and sitting here thinking there should be as we have five units out there, a supervisor could watch the progress and correct issues, hummm thinking that is something I could do which would take some heat off.
Andy,
I ran a company that had about 145 employees at any given time. What help me out greatly in being successful was that I had 4 Managers under me in running this company. I was the “Boss”, General Manager. 1 was in charge of payroll, 1 was in charge of schedules, 1 was in charge of purchases and the last one was in charge of employee relationship. His job was to do the hiring based on needs, put together funs days or events for staff and follow up on company policies and rules. This helped out a lot, sure they made a little more money but they had responsibilities. We would have short meetings like you do with your supervisors and go over the day business and what we were planning for the future regarding growth and direction. When I delegated these responsibilities I became freer and a better view of what was going on. I was more hands on but stayed out of the way and helped coach my managers in their daily decision making.

Quote:
I think I need a mature 2nd in command, my son does an excellent job at what he does and perhaps I need to loosen the rope a little more.The issue Steve is when you have this many staff, keeping track of hours, sometimes the employee doesn't agree with hours paid, inputting all this, doing the tax reports etc. it's desperate time consuming.
No one better than family is the right person to step up to help you run this company. Your son is blood. You can give him a Small Partnership %, a Title like V.P. of Operation; name him a Managing Partner ect. As for the hours worked to hours paid, do you pay your staff form the time they leave the shop or when they get on the job? You can have the supervisors call you and report daily or track weekly on a time card the hours the employee worked. Tell the staff in a general meeting what is going to happen to ENSURE all staff is paid according to hours worked. Let them also know that they will sign a sheet at the end of the day/week/job for verification. Then you can rid yourself of one headache and potential labor issue say if you decide to terminate an employee.

I hope that this can help.

John

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  #17  
Old 06-20-2009, 02:22 AM
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Yes Sir: Sounds like it's time to start molding your company. You have a good thing going and offer what people need and want. It's time to let your Son be a Boss too, or thats what I have been reading. You started this Company to have FUN. Maybe you should handle the Tractors and maybe the spraying part of the Company and let your Son handle the Mowing and Pressure washing. Kinda break it up a lil and enjoy what you are doing. You and your Son can have teams and each time will have a team leader. The team leader makes sure things are done and done the way You or your Son wants it done.
Yall can't stand there and watch every lil thing the teams do,So let the leader have some control. The meetings every morning are good. But maybe You should only have Your Son, You and the team leaders meet every morning, so that the leaders can say what needs to be said about their team, and not have to worry about stepping on John Does Toes. That way you and your Son can weed out the ones that aint working. Of course the team leaders should be ones that you know you can put trust into and they should be paid better than the other team members. Maybe have the whole teams meet once or twice per month so that the other team members know that you are still in control and so they can speak their mind also. After All, you wanted this Company to have Fun.
Maybe Have your Son as a supervisor and sombody else be one, So you can Run the company and still have your Fun doing so. That way you can still have time to do your Owner thing and go from one team to another doing what you want to do, HAVE FUN! You have built a good Company with your ideas and knowledge so don't go getting down on yourself when things get tough.
Hell, If you wanna see tough, Look @ my lil LCO. I have so many things I wanna do with it but can't afford to.
Andy go have your Fun and keep up the good work. You can do it!
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  #18  
Old 06-20-2009, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by majoe7 View Post
Andy,
No one better than family is the right person to step up to help you run this company. Your son is blood. You can give him a Small Partnership %, a Title like V.P. of Operation; name him a Managing Partner ect. As for the hours worked to hours paid, do you pay your staff form the time they leave the shop or when they get on the job? You can have the supervisors call you and report daily or track weekly on a time card the hours the employee worked. Tell the staff in a general meeting what is going to happen to ENSURE all staff is paid according to hours worked. Let them also know that they will sign a sheet at the end of the day/week/job for verification. Then you can rid yourself of one headache and potential labor issue say if you decide to terminate an employee.

I hope that this can help.

John
My Son Seth is very well trained and would do an excellent job at running operations, he currently runs the HR/hiring side, keepts track of hours, makes sure the crews he is with are doing the job the client expects at a pace I have set down.

The issue is he is in training 5 nights a week and weekends, the Canada Games are in a few weeks, this past two weeks he has only been able to work three days due to training and the olympics are his focus and should be at this point.

I am going to work on an ad this morning and get additional management in place, our profit margin in all areas remains high and the company can afford to do it so I think that is what we will try and see how it goes.

As you know introducing management creates some real issues with staff under them when the management person has not had a chance to be one of them, I have been through this so many times I know what to look for in a manager and how to manage the staff to get everything on side, it does take effort but as you noted it is worth it.

Have a super weekend!

Andy
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Old 06-20-2009, 07:49 PM
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As you know introducing management creates some real issues with staff under them when the management person has not had a chance to be one of them, I have been through this so many times I know what to look for in a manager and how to manage the staff to get everything on side, it does take effort but as you noted it is worth it.
Andy,

This makes me wonder, with all your experience thus far, when is it best to bring in an outsider to manage vs. take someone from within?

Whats the benefit and downside to each of these options?
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:05 PM
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Andy,

This makes me wonder, with all your experience thus far, when is it best to bring in an outsider to manage vs. take someone from within?

Whats the benefit and downside to each of these options?
Steve, I do not believe there is a generic answer, in any of the companies I run, it depends on the objective, the company, staff they will oversee and the list goes on.

In this case, I need someone other than University students, if this person works out I will give them part ownership after say a 6 month probation, I want to teach them the woodworking side also as I will go at this company this winter and build it employee wise.
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