Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hourly Rates for Deck Builders

Deck Builders need about $20,000 worth of tools, Liability Insurance, Business Licenses (in some areas), Workman’s comp, A decent vehicle and of course insurance on that vehicle, associated repairs and maintenance.

You need an office, likely an answering service; you need to pay to do bookkeeping and accounting. You need a lawyer on retainer.

You need to do sales and marketing. You need flyers, letterhead, and business cards.

Deck builders require similar overhead expenses to any renovation company.

Here’s a hint. Union Carpenters make about $37/hour here in the Toronto Area. They get 10% vacation pay, dental and medical benefits. So, each man-hour costs the company about $45-50.00 per hour.

That means the company—to cover their overhead and make a small profit has to charge those guys out at $80+ per hour.

Will your rate be $35/ hour?

Are you only worth $12/hour after covering overhead?

Chinese Proverb: “He who works for free is always busy”.Don’t miss out on profitable jobs because you are too altruistic to turn away unprofitable work.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Do you love being a deck builder?

Do you love being a deck builder?

What is it that you love to do? We all know that the most successful people we know enjoy what they do—the question is how to get there?

Is it the building that you enjoy? Designing? Selling?

In the early days of a business you have to wear a number of hats, but there should be a goal in mind, that you consistently work towards. How do we move toward doing only what we love?

If you like the building side, you have to hire and train managers and salesmen. This is difficult. Front line people have the most dramatic effect on the business. If you are building all day—you can’t be available to observe what these people are doing for you. You see the results, and experience them when crews flee, and clients complain (hopefully). In fact, being a builder and allowing other people to run your deck company is dangerous.

Enjoying the management aspects—being the juggler is more typical for our crews. Most of the guys will pitch in when necessary, but normally they have their lead hands who run day to day installations. Management of your deck company is where profitable decisions are made and where the greatest impact on company persona is made.

Sales is one of the major 3 tasks—No deck company can survive or thrive without it. It’s where profit is made or left at the table, and it is also your PR . It is the front line representation for your company—the face of your company.

Hire well—and watch your deck company thrive!


Monday, April 03, 2006

Amateur Deck Building--How to spot it!

I won’t often link to a competitor’s website, but in this case I make an exception.
(I don’t see them as realistic competition anyhow). (another photo of cleat type steps and climbable rails)

Here’s a photo of their best work. (it’s on most main pages-it rotates with a few others--java tricks)

Stairs made with cleats rather than cut stringers. It’s dangerous, Illegal and shows that they are not serious enough about what they do to bother learning how to do it right.

“Our structures are properly designed, structurally sound and built to perfection. Safety should always be on top of the list of every decking company. You can rest assured safety is a top priority at ROYAL Decks Co.” ( this quote is on their portfolio page)

I haven’t dug very deep into their site past the first page of their portfolio, but if you look at the first photo… there are balusters spaced more than 4” apart—close to 6” by my eye.

If they don’t know the absolute basics like these things, how will they ever survive?

They will get sued, they will lose clients as these poor techniques become their reputation, and soon, they will cease to exist.

This is a preliminary post to Tuesday’s Topic… ‘How to tell when a project is built by an amateur.’