I have been making, finishing and installing custom trim and a few cabinets for seven years. Three months ago, I hired one full time and one part time assistant to help keep up.
What I'm working on now is a structure of the different responsibilities each should have. Until now I've had no business plan, so that's on the list also. I've considered using SCORE to help set up my business, but have not really looked into it yet. I would appreciate any tips on getting this done successfully.
First step: Meet with and hire a good CPA. Not just someone to fill in the boxes. We can all do that ourselves. Someone who will give advice and act as a "backseat driver". Then lay down the law now before you get too friendly with your employees. And if one should happen to be a family member... You have my sincere condolences. As a small businessman, you are the key man.
Get things your way right away. Being the key man, you will be the first to take the blame for any and all mistakes and most likely last to claim any glory.
The big thing to keep in mind is that you are increasing *your* work load to have employees. Make sure that you have good self starters who know what they are doing because you aren't going to be in the shop nearly as much now. You've got to go sell more jobs so that the work keeps flowing and you can keep the guys in the shop busy. I've got the same setup, me running the business and shop with one full and one part time in the shop. I spend way too much time in the office. My next employee is going to be an office assistant so I can at least make my presence felt in the shop occasionally.
And remember - no employee is going to be as productive in your shop as you are. You know the tools, you sold the job, you know exactly what the customer asked for, you engineered it, and you don't have to take time away from production to go ask questions. To double your production, figure you need 1 1/2 to 2 employees. If you get good ones you'll be able to beat that figure. Bad ones and you may reduce your production from just doing it yourself.
I guess that on a job that would take me 2 hours, I spend 1/2 hour planning (simplifying), 1/2 explaining, then they take four hours to do it. I still gained an hour unless they mess it up and I have to redo it. Okay, so I gain 1/2 an hour.
As I set some structure in place, I believe the guidelines we come up with will help me and the employees to know what to expect from each other. I'm trying to simplify and standardize as much as I can. I guess not everybody eats, breaths and sleeps sawdust. It's like they just don't care.
Do you guys have much documented as far as shop rules, positions, etc? I'm at the very beginning stages so I don't have anything but a bunch of ideas of what to do, except for a partial outline of an operations manual.
I don't have any relatives helping, but almost as bad is that one is a friend. I consider him to be the perfect training for me in disciplining the business and documenting how things are to be done.
If you can swing it, get the safety video "Remember Charlie". The downside is the nearly $500 cost! You could use this video as part of your safety training. Definitely develop a safety plan.
Tom Dossenbach, forum technical advisor
Comment from contributor A:
I bought a book called "Anatomy of a Buisness Plan" by Linda Pinson / Jerry Jinnett. They also wrote "How to write a Buisness Plan". There is a lot of information in theses books. I agree on a good CPA.