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Remote Management & Design

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mike M, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988


    I have been putting a lot of thought into this, and I'm serious.

    Has anyone ever tried running their biz from a temporary or long-term remote location?

    I'm thinking about hiring someone to operate my lawn biz so I don't lose my accounts, and then I started thinking, why not have them do lighting as well?

    I could have digital images sent to me. I know, it sounds crazy, but has anyone here ever trusted/hired someone to do installs without being there?


  2. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    Okay, I'm really into to this idea, please talk me out of it if necessary.

    First, I don't anticipate a booming lighting market during my absence, so it shouldn't be that bad to give it a try on some jobs here and there.

    I know Unique offers remote design as a service, I can have them help me with this. Once I get the images/site plan, I could have Unique spec the job, and I could alter it to my likings, and then have a modified demo plan made. The installer could do a demo, then I could offer a price/contract based on the final design after the demo. A call to my distrib, and I'm still in business.

    Am I nuts?
  3. Grace Irrigation

    Grace Irrigation LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    No your not nuts, make it happen.
  4. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    What would prevent the installer from doing the job himself and leaving you out?
  5. Grace Irrigation

    Grace Irrigation LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    If you can keep them busy in these times, why would they want to burn any bridges with you.
  6. Grace Irrigation

    Grace Irrigation LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    Maybe you could find someone that has already tried to run his own business and couldn't get over the hump. This could be the perfect opportunity for someone.
  7. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    Good concern, but I get surprised when people ask (on the road) for landscaping work, and I tell them how they can do it themselves, and they just don't want to do it. Most people just want and need to go to work with a paycheck at the end of each week (and asap), without a time/effort/financial commitment and risk.

    Undoubtedly, it will come down to finding the right person for the job. As far as skills, someone with a professional attitude and a strong back, and some handy experience with wires. I'll deal with design, material selection & acquisition, ARB compliance, and bid work, not to mention the bookkeeping, business licenses, gate passes, marketing, etc.

    It's not like I'm expecting the phone to ring off the hook, so I would probably have a lot of time and trial/error to figure it out.

    Basically, I will need design space with a laptop, phone, and filing cabinet. For the landscaping biz, I was even thinking of having my CPA's bookkeeper do the billing. Geez, they could probably do my deposits, too. I'll have to ask them for ideas on how they can help.

    I got the idea from one of my customers who runs his movie theatre business remotely during the winter.

    Again, I don't have a big business, just 20 full-service landscaping accounts, plus my lighting clients. This might be an opportunity to teach myself how to do more management and less labor.
  8. Venturewest

    Venturewest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 516

    I think it sounds like a feasible idea. It really could be an opportunity to build your business in a way that doesn't depend so much on your health and presence. You would need a good non-compete contract for your area for several years. The real trick would be hiring someone really good. Someone with great people skills, business skills and aptitude. I have thought about this before. What if I hired a straight-out of college grad. with demonstrated achievements. Just like a large company would hire and trust with great responsibility. Obviously you would need to find the perfect mix of traits.

    Pay this person 20,XXX or 30,XXX with the possibility of bonuses and a stake in the business at some point.

    Training would be key. This person really should understand design as well as you do. I think the weak variable in your equation is the remote design. (For one thing, your "salesman" needs to be able to explain the design to the client. But if you combine your remote design with the design sense and training of your employee you could have something.

    The nice thing about your situation is that your lawn accounts could probably cover the salary.

  9. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Mike, the very fact that your operations are small (no disrespect intended) would make this idea risky for you. You would need to find a self starter, with a lot of technical skills and experience to trust with doing 'your' work for you. Guess what... by that very definition you are talking about an entreprenuer... and therefore someone who would quickly see the opportunity to cut you out of the process.

    Running a well built and established business, one that has systems and loyal employees in place, from a remote location is one thing, trying to build a business while not being there is another. Do so research into "absentee owners". I don't know anyone who has built a strong, sucessful contracting business without putting in a ton of hard work and sweat equity.

    Now, if you want to change your business model and become a Lighting Designer, that is a different kettle of fish altogether. My advice there is to build your reputation and network as a top knotch lighting design/build contractor and then branch out into the singluar world of lighting design.

    Keep on plugging away man... there are opportunities out there.
  10. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    When I had five employees, I would occasionally take a vacation and it would all be in their hands. I would call them every morning at 7:00 and get a report. Everything was scheduled in advance. Occasionally there were glitches, like a schedule thrown off by a flat tire or someone being sick.

    I was still checking the phone messages and relayed special requests from customers or repairs that needed doing. Never took on new customers during those times. Never was away longer than two weeeks.

    The biggest hurdle for me was just to learn to let go and trust them to not get into trouble they couldn't handle.

    You have to get people with good critical thinking and decision making skills. Also helps to have a key guy who is a good leader and compsensate them accordingly.

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