No, I'm not bragging, just asking a question. Had a dreadfully slow summer, but the last couple of weeks have been unbelievable. I do most of my business in custom cabinetry, mostly middle of the road stuff. People won't pay for dovetailed drawers, but want good looking cabinets. I work primarily by myself, but hired a guy this week who needed work but has no skills. He can drill shelf holes, fill holes, sand... stuff like that. I delivered a house full of cabinets, with another set in the shop to deliver this week. Got a deposit check for another large house full of cabinets to get ready ASAP. Measured two more jobs this week, and got them both. So... if nothing else comes in, I'm booked through at least the end of October.
What do I do when somebody comes in the door and wants to know if I can do something for them? I've got a couple more quotes out there that I haven't heard from. One of them I figured two weeks ago and told them that I could do their house without holding them up time-wise. Of course they haven't given me a deposit check and secured their place in line:-) I don't want to sacrifice quality just to turn out more work. I haven't been able to find qualified help. I don't want to work 7 days a week. I know that it is probably time to go up on my prices, but it is too late for the work I've booked. Do you just tell people to take a number? Do you look for qualified help and try to get more work out the door? Do you try to rush it out the door and let the quality slide a little (just typing that out made me cringe!)? How do you handle a problem like this?
From contributor V:
I don't think there's anything wrong with telling prospective clients that they'll have to wait 8 to10 weeks. I have to do it all the time and it's been like that for a year and a half. Some wait and some don't.
"I need it yesterday…" Very funny.
If you have the room and you can find the talent, hiring helps. But in your situation you need people who can do the job beginning to end, or else you'll spend too much time micro-managing every step. Your production will fall if you have too many trainees.
Unless you are providing perfection at a bargain price, you can't sacrifice service or quality. Both will be compromised if you say yes to jobs you shouldn't and get overworked. A solid reputation will bring you clients who are willing to wait and feel good about it. These are the people that I like to work for. They're planning ahead, they're willing to wait, they want quality, and they're willing to pay for it.
Good help is also hard to find. I sometimes find that a willing newcomer is easier to train than someone that thinks they know it all. And you can train them your way, but be willing to listen to their ideas, as they may look at things in a different way, and help speed up production.
2. Outsource. Doors and drawers are commonplace. Shops with CNC equipment often will welcome the opportunity to do your panel processing to keep their machine running.
3. Hire only if you are confident your workload will allow you to keep the guy. Increasingly, our laws make it almost a criminal offense to fire someone, even if it's known he was a temp hire.
4. If you have such a service in your area, consider hiring through a temp service. I'm in Los Angeles, where you can find pretty much anything. There are companies here who have construction temps. You tell them what skill level you want and pay the company directly. They take care of all taxes and work comp. When you're done with the guy, he goes back, no hassle. If you want to subsequently hire him, they usually have a buyout program.
5. Find the biggest bottleneck in your shop, and figure out how to make it go away. For us, this has generally been a new piece of equipment, but it could be outsourcing or changing how you do something.
7. Tell 'em they have to wait and why.
I've done all of these at one time or another to deal with such situations. Some of them I do routinely. It's painful to turn work away, but it's nearly as painful to overload yourself past a reasonable point. Just remember, this is way better than wondering when the next job is going to come in.