It’s just you, right? You want to grow, but the thought of handing the care of a chunk of your customers over to a complete stranger freaks you the F*ck out. The idea of stagnating doesn’t sit well with you either. Tired of “doing” and want to “manage”? Ready to Hire Somebody, but… You’ve already taken on more than you can handle, but not enough yet to pay someone. Still, you see all those pros in the Facebook groups, you know, the big guys. They did it. So, you know there is money to be made.
Taking a risk, even a calculated risk is scary, but so is never having the chance to grow. Whatever the reason, it is a big decision. As with anything, there are many pros and cons. I have been chatting with industry pros who either are struggling with this decision or have made this hefty life choice and wanted to share with you the most significant challenges and the biggest successes.
Put Your Effort Where Your Mouth Is
Whether you are thinking of taking on independent contractors or hiring official employees, you need to put in the work. You also need to know this upfront – it’s expensive to have employees, consider Licensing, payroll, workman’s comp, human resources unemployment insurance, safety requirements
Each state and county has different requirements, so make sure you understand the laws for employing each type. You’ll need to decide if you want to pay a salary, hourly, or by the pool (FYI: by the pool has a sh*t-ton of criteria to it for it to actually be legal). Will filter cleans pay extra? What about sales in the field? Will the commission be paid? Are you going to pay mileage? Give a gas card? Track them out in the area? Company phone? What about holiday pay and vacation pay and sick time? These are all things you need to have a well-formulated plan to determine.
Nick Casserly of Superior Pool & Spa Services in Houston, TX hits the nail on the head, “Have a plan. Get your HR ready to handle employees, formulate [an] employee’s handbook with job description and expectations, non-compete agreements, conditions of employment, W-4. All of this can be time-consuming to do, but necessary. Value your business, and you provide a valuable service to your customers, so don’t low ball prices.”
A Diamond or a Dud?
Once you hire someone, then what? You have to get them up to snuff on YOUR business and how YOU want it run. You can’t just turn them loose.
“The biggest employee challenge is hiring good employees who feel invested in the company.”- Justin Gregory of Sink or Swim Pool Service in Cape Coral, Florida.
“Any company can hire an employee,” Agrees Ronald W. Wensley, Jr. of Columbus Pool Management, “it is what effort is supplied to the employee is what is going to determine whether you found a diamond or just another lump of coal. [Too] many times do I hear ‘I don’t have time to train or develop talent.’ At our company, we have the philosophy, ‘You do not have time, NOT TO provide development .’ At his company, they “…have a multi-day management training course. Initial training is conducted by those that are responsible for the department—setting goals and expectations and setting up [opportunities] to coach while not being negative and extracting important work. ” Ronald knows what’s up when it comes to hiring peeps. “Hiring a person is only the start. Investment in the team members’ success is not only beneficial but a requirement.”
Do I have the Dough?
Money is probably the number one hindrance when it comes to the thought of expansion. You have overhead and supplies. Are you going to be doing additional advertising? You now not only have your bills to worry about, but your employee’s as well. When asked about challenges Stephen Adam Haim of Showtime Pools in Hollywood, CA had this to share,
“[A big challenge is] cash flow, especially when hiring employees.” He reminds us that, “Late payments will only affect you.” Managing cash flow is another concern he brought up. After surviving multiple employees, Stephen has learned the importance of “…managing cash flow, guaranteeing work, ensuring you work for your company and employees, not that they work for you.” He feels this is a hard concept to understand. He has a lot of great advice: “[Be] organized and efficiently plan. Without micromanaging, add in-service reports with pics and protocols that employees should adhere to. Every pool is different. Sometimes changing routes around is a good thing to avoid complacency. Don’t over advertise, be patient, and work on an organic reach.” Networking is vast to Adam. From “the poorest neighborhoods to the most exclusive and luxurious ones.” He concludes, “Don’t burn bridges. Ask for help from other pros that hopefully, you can trust. Entrust your crew, but keep them on a tight leash.”
Payroll, Paperwork & Hanky-Panky
It sounds like if you can put in the work, and train and develop your employees, then they could be lucrative for your business. Just ask Wendy Miller Purser of Wendy Purser Pool Consulting. ” The biggest success was being able to have managers over the different departments of construction, service, maintenance, and retail. This gave me more time to run a business and finally get some family time.” It isn’t all rosy. “The biggest challenge was payroll and paperwork. I found out how much of a help an outside payroll company could be. Another large challenge was managing all of the different personality types and, in one instance, the hanky-panky.” Is that considered an employee with benefits?
Just Me & My Pole
Growing your company may not be for you. The challenges may outweigh the payout. Justin Pinson of Rock Round Pool Pros feels “like I have gone through 10-15 bad employees for every good one.” He has some experience in this, “The first couple [of] employees are always the hardest.”
Sometimes your “employees” maybe your family. That is a whole different article. But take it from Andrea Nannini of Hibiscus Pools. Her …” The 16-year-old son is too slow and argues with [her] a lot”. I have employees like that also, girl.
Micheal Rodarte puts in his two cents, although he doesn’t think this is what anyone is looking for, “Biggest headache of employees…employees.” His most significant success was “…going back to being a single pole.” He says, “It’s not for everyone, and you’ll need a good network/tag team, but I have never been happier, I’ve never made more money, I’ve never had as much free time.” He exclaims, “And THAT was what I was chasing all along.” A tip from Michael to those thinking of hiring employees, he warns, “I hope you priced your pools with the intent of hiring and paying a tech. I see a lot of low-priced pools make [zero] money or lose money once an employee is added.”
Similar Article Keeping Employees Engaged
Don’t forget, even if you find the “perfect” employees…they are still humans. And sometimes it can be whiny bi@*hes. Michael Dyer of Mission Pool & Spa Supplies observes, “From what I have seen as the biggest challenge is finding an employee that basically ‘holds it together’ under pressure either from management or a customer.”