Contractor Forum

Growing without a new office

  • 1.  Growing without a new office

    Posted 10-10-2017 10:35 AM
    I was just curious to as of if anyone has employees that work for them, but may live in a different county? We would like to grow a little bit and would like to cover more areas such as 2 hours away or more. Do any of you guys cover farther but you only have one main office? We don't want to invest money in a new office 2 hours away if we had the possibility of doing it from this office. One of our competitors tried an office in our county (2 hours from their main office) and it did not work out for them. If anyone has any advice or comments please let me know. Thank you.

    My email is aturner@wythesheetmetal.com

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    Autumn Turner
    Office Mgr - VP
    Wythe Sheet Metal, Inc.
    Wytheville VA
    (276) 228-4521
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  • 2.  RE: Growing without a new office

    Posted 10-14-2017 04:57 PM
    Hi, Autumn:

    Yes, it's possible. We are in northern Virginia and have a relatively large service area. We've had techs living in VA, MD, and WV, and we have had office staff working from VA, SC, FL, TX, CA, HI, and Austria. That being said, there are always tradeoffs when you have people working remotely, so it's a matter of looking at the incremental opportunity versus the costs of doing so.

    Today an office staff member can easily log in to a computer from a remote location and answer phone lines routed to another place. As long as everyone has a great Internet connection, it can work beautifully.

    Regarding techs, there are different issues such as:
    • holding tech meetings or training;
    • restocking trucks;
    • collecting payments (and tickets, if you're using hard copy); or
    • picking up equipment.
    All of these can be addressed in some way: e.g., restocking at a supply house; using Skype or Google Hangouts or some other app for a meeting; overnight mailing or even deposit of money; and delivering equipment to another location such as tech home, installation location, or supplier.

    One thought I'd offer for consideration is to ask yourself whether you've thoroughly penetrated (whether it's hiring or customer acquisition) your local area. While all this remote work can be done, it's more difficult and more expensive than working locally. So I wouldn't consider it unless I felt I was at that point. In fact, we've done nothing but make our service area smaller over the last five years or so. Everybody's circumstances are different, so I would never say whether it is the right thing to do, but I would say that it is possible, if you want to do it.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
    PS, you're relatively close by, so come stop by if you want to see in person how we work remotely.

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    Linda Couch
    Chief Operating Officer
    Parrish Services
    Manassas VA
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  • 3.  RE: Growing without a new office

    Posted 10-15-2017 05:57 PM
    Autumn

    As Linda indicated this is possible and it can be profitable and just as you are asking, logistics need to be considered very carefully. Much easier for support roles in the office. We operate six locations and the distances from the main office to each of the branch locations are 25/30/60/90/110 miles. The furthest distance between any two branches service area is 190 miles (worse case scenario)

    Things you would want to consider should include:
    1. If you currently have a remote technician that would fit the role, that's great. What happens if they leave?
    2. What happens if the remote person is not available to run a call, how far might someone need to travel. Calculate the furthest reaches of the main office tot he furthest reaches of the potential service area, it will need to be supported early on.
    3. Can you support service / sales / installations equally int he remote area?
    4. Think of any challenges that you have with current local staff and multiply that by XX to account for the distance.
    5. Population density, are there plenty of clients between the miles or more miles between clients?
    6. Who will be the one responsible for communications with the remote staff? They can easily feel and become isolated.
    7. Training
    8. Access to vendors and inventory

    If you would like to talk please feel free to give me a call 585-546-1400 Ext. 7303

    Anything is possible with commitment (and time & money)

    Eric

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    Eric Knaak
    Vice President & General Manager
    Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
    Rochester NY
    (585) 546-1400
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