We are coming up on our 5 year anniversary.
Did 1.8 million gross sales last year, actually made a profit too.
Took me three years to be able to sleep when money was tight, I still have the occasional restless night though.
This week I had two good guys quit to start their own gig, I shook hands with them last night and wished them the best of luck.
I love what I do, and the company is finally starting to pay off but it still ain't easy......
It's funny how things happen. My wife and I used to always talk about doing it for ourselves, mostly for money. We always decided to not do it, mostly for money. Now that we make more than we ever thought possible, we are going for it, but it has nothing to do with money. It's more along the lines of what DOW said. We could be very comfortable where we are, and enjoy life, but the atmosphere where I work is not what I want to experience every day for the rest of my carreer. I think also that I see the volatility and vulnerability of being an employee in a shop where my pay makes can make me an expense rather than an asset when they dont do enough footwork. All in all I dont like the idea of having everything I have worked for go down the drain because someone else didn't do their job. I'd rather be the one responsible for what comes of my life.
I have never started out on my own, other than the odd side job from time to time.
The closest I came was as a branch manager for three years. It was like having my own company. I had to answer to three different guys over three years, none of hem wanted the hassel of dealing with a satellite office, that the president of the company wanted. so I was left alone much of the time and only got nextelled about twice a week, once a month I would have to drive to the home office and report.
I started with a bowling alley and a local news papper, 400,00 and 200,00. the said they wanted to do 1.5 mill at the end of three years. I hit the bricks with a packet of who I was and what I could do, I sent every contractor a bid on any job I heard they were into, and the packet introducing myself, asked or not.
At first I did not get any jobs, but a lot of call backs. all I asked was for the chance to bid work, I told them if nothing else it would keep there regular subs in order. (pricing wise)
Eventually they gave me a chance on small projects, eventually I was doing eckerds drug stores, restaurants, cancer centers, doctors offices, small retail. the only residential I had to do was the contractors houses, it got me some larger jobs. (I did this at cost)
I finally quit after three years, home office did not want me there. (they did not make any extra of me, so it was viewed as a pain in there arses) I was wearing to many hats, as Budro will have to. the president said he would lighten my load by having the home office do the estimating. they did a community college libary for me and forgot the two condensors, 10 ton and 30 ton. I inherited a 35,000 dollar problem, called Trane and got them to give them to me at cost, called what few subs I had and got them to help a little, got my crew to work faster than they should have......anyway I had a hard time sleeping during that period, decided it was not my outfit and quit after I had everything caught up.
Sorry Budro to rant on like that, good luck and keep it simple at first.
If common sense is so common how come so few of us have it!
Originally posted by Diceman Good thoughts Dow, I even read the whole thing this time.......
I will be honest with you. I try like hell to keep it short because all you guys are on my ass about it all the time. But on this subject, I have a hard time keeping it quick.
All jokes aside. We had the balls. We know what it takes. I find it very gratifying. It's like I know this secret. Most people Ed have no idea, the toughness it demands from us. But at the end of the day, or when ever you reflect back, your gratefull as hell for being couragous enough to friggin atleast try. It aint an easy road. It aint for a weak minded person. And we all collectively maybe felt we are not tough enough, at times when it is real tight. And as each minor tightness relapses, you just gain a further sense of security in yourself and value that.
And I know you understand it. Your article, said this all basically.
And all the right things make sense. Save. Hard Work. Conservative. Honest. Integrity. Disciplined.
I had to teach myself all that stuff. I had some of it. But to go out there every day and it's on me. I had to elevate my game. For that alone, it's such a great journey in life. I suggest it to anyone.
I had wanted to do my own thing for quite some time, never had the balls to just quit and do it. I have always believed that if a person sets their mind to something they can achieve anything and also overcome any obstacle that gets in their way. There are countless examples of this around all of us.
I have been in this trade for the last 25 years always working for someone else, allowing my future to be dependent on someone elses business intelligence, knowing all along that I would never make any real money working for someone else. Not to mention having to put up with all of the office politics that seem to be in all shops.
I have always known there is no reward in life without some risk, I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead, in part because I am a lot happier knowing that I am now in control of my future. I may not make any money and hell I might go broke, but at least I am going to try.
I read about every post on here that involve business start ups and business questions, I have learned a lot from the wisdom and experience of others on this board, and also find strength from those who have succeeded, so to all of you from little ol me....Thanks.
If you dont stand behind our troops, please feel free...........to stand in front of them.
The only thing in life achieved without doing anything is failure. Do you ever wonder why there are so many HVAC co's? There are 56 pages of co's listed in the yellow pages where I'm from. I think its because most technicians are required to do just about everything except pay the bills and some of the office work, and get sick of being treatd like day labor grunts. I know thats how I feel. I do the service call, repair the eq., build the relationship with the customer, make recomendations, put prices together for repair or replacement, gather material, put it on the shcedule, do the work, bill the cust, collect fromn cust., follow up with customer, and get them on service aggrements. Not only that but I find new customers daily. All this and I still get looked at like I'm full O' s#$^, and God forbid that I dont tell them when I'm wiping my arse or stopping at the store for a soda. Screw all the poliics. Half the time I'm expected to do the work of 2 guys in half the time alloted for any particular service, all so the big wig can take his forth vacation of the year. Most employers Ive worked for act like they are doing me a favor by employing me and that I shouldnt expect more out of them. Rather it is opposite. They are fortunate to have me.
If things go well I'll have the best paid techs in town and I'll treat them how I want to be treated.Yeah I know it'll be hard to do, but some how the bar needs to be raised in our industry. Technicians in this field are valuable, and should be treated as such. If the bar isnt raised, we will have a continual increase in the number of co's and we'll drive ourselves out of business.
This April 25th will make two years for our company, I ain't gonna say its a success story yet but I think we are on our way. I have been pretty dang lucky so far, no major screw ups and I have had steady work right off the bat. I owe alot of this to my wife who help me get office and business issues in order. I had alot of good contacts that help get the word out that I was out on my own. This past year I made more money than I ever did working for some one else and I did not have to work as hard or as long. Less stress and no "service experts" B.S. It was scarey at first but I am so glad that we decided to give it a shot.
It sure is great to hear success stories. 99% of the time its crap stories that bring you down and not want to take the risk.
Everyone has great ideas. Best advice I can give is: DONT BE THE CHEAP GUY. Charge like you know what your worth. Without us, there would be a lot of sick and uncomfortable people. We have the upperhand.
I suppose you could call me a coon ass. Alot off my family is from La.. Its too damn sticky overthere for me. I have noticed that alot of companies that have done really well have the higher prices. I suppose it does set you appart, and customers who are price shopping and are less likely to pay wont want your service. I plan on using a slightly high average flat rate price on residential and commercial a little higher.
Thanks for sharing all of the experiences. I really didnt expect so many responses. It is good to know that there are people out there who made it through.