consulting appointment/multiple crews
I had a wonderful time the other day with Brite Lites of Houston. over a period of 4 hours we talked about everything outdoor Christmas decorations. I'll let them chime in if they wish about what they felt like they got out of it, but I will tell you this. Even though I have been doing this for pay since 25 years plus ago, I still learned a few things just talking with stacy and carlos. suppliers I have not tried, marketing ideas I have not tried, etc.
It was really neat to see where they are and where they wanted to go. Thier business is where I was around 4 seasons ago, and they are at one of the toughest points in a Christmas light biz- going from being the crew foreman/hands on every job to turning over the installs to 2 install crews. what makes them unique is their "other business" is not lawn care or spraying lawns or anything to do with lawns or landscape. They can tell you what they do the rest of the year if they want. I don't always kiss and tell.
I made this crew transition by necessity, right around the 60 customer mark. my payroll went from one guy to 4 guys. every job went from me being on the roof, running cords, etc, to me doing just sales calls and employees doing everything. It is a tough bridge to cross. training 2 crew foremen in October becomes a have to. you have to trade perfection for excellence and sometimes be satisfied with "that looks great". and that leads to a greater number of customers letting you go year to year. I remember losing only one or two customers a year until multiple crews entered the picture. then it was 3-10% per year.
scheduling becomes an issue. one crew will be better than another. one crew will forget more things, one will be better at mini's, or one will be better at tough heights/pitches, etc.
The temptation is to try and run one crew and then have one other crew. the problem with this setup is you do not have the freedom to leave your guy to bring the other crew what they need or to help them figure out how to install the job you gave them.
vehicles. you have to buy not only one, but two trucks, and maybe have a backup. you drive one, the guys have a truck and or trailer each, and you need a spare in case any of them break down.
I actually used a boxvan as my personal ride the last week when my 2006 ford truck needed an alternator. 5 days later they had the part and got me going. If this were during the busy season, I would have had to drive the Christmas Bus ( a great UPS van like bus rig,perfect also on the weekends to scope for chicks ).
I will say that the transition to 3 crews from 2 is WAY easier. and me going to 4 rests on one fact- getting that 4th crew foreman trained in time and he stays. I may train 5 guys next year to be crew foremen in the last 2 weeks of October and then pick 4. That way I have a spare guy.
I do believe that brite lites will get over the hurdles and do what they have to do to grow their company.
I was wondering if any of you out there experienced the same thing when going to the next level?
Last edited by David Gretzmier; 12-19-2009 at 12:43 AM.