Starting a company is one of the most exciting and most frustrating things you can do.
It’s kind of like playing the lottery. For the first day you are thinking about how much money you can make, how working for yourself would be soooo much better working for yourself instead of someone else.
And then reality and the questions start rolling in:
– Where do I begin?
– What if this doesn’t work out?
– What do I need to learn?
– How will I find customers?
– What will my family and friend think and say?
– Can I handle telling people that my business failed if I’m not successful?
First, let me tell you the bad news.
Starting any business is EXTREMELY hard work. Have you ever had one goal you always wanted to do but never done? Whether it be losing 30 pounds, going to the gym 2-5x a week, run a marathon, etc.
It’s kind of like those goals. Unless you get fully consumed by what you want, it will NEVER happen.
Let me repeat that. The only way you will ever be successful, unless you get really lucky (sort of like winning the lottery) you must WANT to think about that goal from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. If your friends and family aren’t complaining about how much time you spend on this you aren’t spending enough time.
If you are not willing to sacrifice insane amounts of time and energy in the begining it simply will not work. Think about success like pushing a boulder up a mountain. Sure, the beginning is going to suck A LOT, but once you get over that hump its smoother sailing from there.
Notice I did not say smooth sailing. It will still be difficult, but it won’t feel impossible anymore. Becuase you already went through the toughest part: just getting started. Now the obstacles you face months and years down the line are no longer mountains but just hills to get over.
If you are willing to put in the work for one year you will be absolutely amazed on what can be accomplished.
Now For The Good News!
I have already gone through this process and I will share everything you need to know and what to expect as you get going.
I have gone from doing this to get some side income to being able to quit my day job in under 2 years. And in under 3 years I will able to have my wife quit her day job as well.
I have spent over $15,000 and 100s of hours on trial and error mothods until I found out what actually works on a consistent basis. Anyone can get lucky, but having the sustainable growth is what really matters.
It definitely wasn’t easy, and when I think back to what I went through I just shake my head and wonder why I stuck through with it. And my reason was that I hated my day job so much that was willing to do anything to get out of there.
Above I talked about willing to put insane amount of time and energy. To put things into perspective I was working 50 hours a week at my day job and then spending another 40 hours a week with the fencing. During the worst part I was also dealing with losing my father in law to cancer. Along with my 90 hours a week I also spent another 10-15 hours a week transporting my wife’s grandmother back and forth to the hospital. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly easy to want to get out of bed everyday.
Like anything else, If you work hard enough, and more importantly SMART enough you will succeed.
I will teach you everything need to know.
I will litterally go step by step and teach you to go from no customers to as many as you can handle faster than anyone would think is possible.
When you run into competitors they will say “Oh, you’re such and such fence company” you will absolutely love it. And they say that becuase you went from being unknown to them hearing about you on a daily basis.
Is this going to be expensive?
Like anthing else, it really depends on your ambition. If you want to take 5-10 years what took me 2 then no, just focus on word of mouth. If you want to get out of that shitty job as quickly as possible, follow my methods and get the hell out!
What Tools Do You Need To Start A Fence Company?
This is where I know I would piss off some veteran fence guys. But I consider us in the same league as a landscape company. Sure, we sell high ticket items but at the end of the day our investment for our tools is so little that litterally anyone can start a fence company.
So that’s great news for you now, but not so great news later on. What I mean once you get established you will have to worry about guys like me that come out of no where and then take a couple hundred jobs.
The barebones tools you need to start a fence company are as follows:
– Measuring Wheel (Not neccessary at first but saves a ton of time doing quotes)
– Measuring Tape
– Post Hole Digger
– Digging Bar
– Basic Power Tools: Drill/driver, Sawzall, Circular Saw
– String Line
– Metal pins/stakes to hold the string line.
– Work Gloves
And that’s pretty much it to just get started. Once you get going you will definitely want some more tools but I started with these and basically you would be buying more tools with each job that you do until you have everything you need.
So you have your tools, now what’s your name going to be?
Please read this a few times: Your two main concerns when it comes to picking a company name is that is easy to remember AND that people will find you first when they search. My business is called Deptford Fence. You know why I chose that instead of Joe’s Fence? Because a) it sounds more professional. And b) so that when people search fence company in Deptford guess who shows up first? That’s right, me!
What I would highly suggest is if you have a town (not major city) near you that is very populated choose that name. The more people in the town the better becuase more than likely that will search things such as
– Fence Company in (town)
– Fence Company near me
When they search either of those terms then your company will come up in regular search results as well as the map results. I feel that the map results will get even more traffic (no pun intended) down the line because it very rating oriented.
Another thing to consider is if that name is available as a domain for when you make your website. Good news is that mroe than likely whatever you pick will be available.
How Do I know if the business name is available?
Simple, click on the links below (all may not be available at the time when you read this.) Follow the directions on the screen and you will be able to see if what you want is available.
Make sure that you search the different variations in case someone already owns the rights just in a slightly different spelling.
My Name Is Availble, How about for online?
Next you want to make sure your domain name is availble online. Domain name simply means website name. Click HERE to check to see if your name is available.
If your name is available I would highly suggest registering it right away. Why you ask? If a well known company starts hearing about you they will typically try to find out more. And if they find out that your domain name is still available they will take it for themselves.
Don’t Forget To Setup You Voicemail
Obviously you expect people to call when you start putting the word out right? At this point you probably have a day job where you won’t be able to answer your phone right away. And that’s ok, as long as you call people back they don’t mind leaving messages.
If your day job calls your personal cell phone you might not want to use that phone number for your ads. Because, like most places, if you are running a side hustle it just opens yourself up to extra critcism at your job. For this reason you may want to setup your house phone. If thats not possible just use your cell phone.
My name and domain or secure, now what about Customers???
Next you want to find customers. The absolute best time to find customers when you are first starting out is after a storm that causes a lot of damage. This is how I got started and I landed several jobs that were easy enough to get started.
The best place to get find customers is to post jobs on Craigslist. As of this writing they charge $5 for you to post an ad. It used to be free but now that they charge it is soooo much better for you. “Why is that” you ask. The reason that it’s better is becuase now just a fraction of the people use it. I used to have to post 2-4 times a day to just stay at the top of the list. Now you can post once and stay in the top 3 for 2+ weeks.
What Should Your Craigslist Ad Say?
I could write a lot about this but I’m going to make it simple and just show you what I put on mine. I wouldn’t copy it verbatum but this add brought me in a ton of money! It was the first one I used and since it was so successful I never changed it.
What you will notice is that in the ad there are certain words that people would be searching for. This is SEO in its most basic form. When you want to show up for what people are searching for, just make sure you those words are in your ad. Simple right?
I posted my ad, do I just wait for the calls to come in?
Here’s a list of a few more things that should be done. I know this can be overwhelming so just pick one and go from there. And when I say pick one, that does NOT mean try for 15 minutes then give up. You want this business to work right?
– If you have no experience whatsoever you need to watch youtube videos on how to install a fence. This is how I learned and so will you.
– Tell friends and family you are installing fences.
– Post on Facebook if anyone needs help installing a fence.
– If you have a fence that needs to be replaced, do your own.
Time to start digging holes!
Now comes the fun part! You really want to at least look like you know what you are doing before you show up to your first customers house. I didn’t really know what I was doing for at least the first 5-10 jobs but that ok! As long as you are polite and courtous, people don’t really care. And you know why?
Becuase they are just happy you showed up. Becuase companies, especially guys on craigslist, are very unreliable.
So know you need to go grab, your digging bar, post hole digger, and your gloves. You definately want those gloves!
Now you are going to start digging holes! Seriously, start digging! I know you are thinking, “How hard can it really be?”. Well, do this for the next 3 hours with a 5 minute break in between each hole and you will see how hard it is. Remember, you will be doing this all day, not just when you feel like it.
The size of the hole needs to be 10″ in diamater and 36″ deep. This size hole will pretty much handle any size post that you will be dealing with.
The First Person Called, What Do I Do?!
This is super exciting right!
First thing you want to do is call them back asap if they left a message.
Our typical conversations go something like this:
Me: “Hi, this is Joe with Deptford Fence, is this a good time to talk?” If they say yes, continue. If they say no, just ask them for a better time.
Me:”Great thanks, may I ask where you address and what you need help with?”
Customer: “I need to get my fence replaced and I live at such and such.”
Me: “Sounds good, I can definitely help out with that. I am available to come out for a quote between 5-7pm on Mon-Wed, do any of those days work for you?”
Customer: “Wednesday at 7pm works for me.”
Me: “Great, I will see you then, if anything changes in the meantime please give me a call and I will do the same for you.”
Easy Right? And please make sure you show up on time!
What Should You Wear?
This really depends on your area. Think about the typical homeonwer in that town and dress similar to them. If they are a jeans and tshirt type of town go with jeans and a tshirt. If this is a higher end town, go with a polo. It really doesn’t matter what you wear as long as it is neat, clean, and doesn’t contain anything offensive.
Another thing you can do to get a feel for the customer is to look up their house on Zillow.com. If the house is super nice, you may want to dress a little nicer.
What to do during the quote?
The first few times is definiately going to be nerve wracking! But it’s ok, everything will be just fine.
I typically find out what kind of material they are looking to install and then just walk the yard with them and get the measurements, along with a drawing.
Some things to keep in mind:
– Pressure treated fences are not suited for sloped yards.
– If there is brush where the fence line is going to be the custom either needs to remove it or you need to charge extra because it will take you way more time than what you think.
– If there is river rock or crushed stone along the fence line it will be a nightmare! You will be digging holes and then they will be filling right back up with the rocks. It is going to suck, A LOT!
Should You Give A Price Right Then and There?
Most companies do, I don’t. The reason I don’t is becuase we have one salesperson that does about 70 quotes a week during our peak season. To sit down and figure out every single quote would take too long. We would have to employ two people to handle the quotes.
When you are just starting out I would definitely send them a quote via email or phone call. I typically like to get them out same day but as long as you get it to them by the following day that is ok as well.
How to figure out pricing?
To figure out the pricing you must figure out how much the materials are going to cost, any additional costs involved since gas, dump fees, etc.
Next you want to figure out about how long it would take you to do the job. When you are just starting out figure on 10 posts/sections per day.
After you have that information you need to figure out how much you want to make per day.
Final Price = Materials + (time * day rate).
Remember to think long term.
When I first started out I did the same thing everyone else does, priced wayyy tooo low! I started this as a side hustle so I wasn’t thinking about 3 years down the road. Now when former customers call me let’s just say they are shocked with the pricies now.
Did you really factor in all your costs?
Another thing to think about is if you want to be doing the job by yourself. If you want to use a helper you have to factor that in too. Most helpers get paid around $100 depending on the area.
But remember, think long term. When you have insurance, worman’s comp, etc whatever you think your employee costs are just add 40%. Im not kidding, 40 friggin percent!
When you get bigger I would suggest getting everything taken out automatically for two reasons
1. So you don’t forget or get tempted not to pay and then have Uncle Sam come after you.
2. So you don’t see that amount every week and get pissed off.
And I promise it will feel less painful as time goes on. It’s kind of like looking at all the taxes that get taken out of your paycheck. Eventually you just stop looking at them.
What program should you use to send your quotes?
When I was just getting started the app I used up until last year was Joist. You can do quotes on your phone, tablet, computer etc. An added bonus is that it is completely FREE! Click here for more info.
Another really great feature is that you can take credit cards with this as well.
What should you do when they try to talk you down in price?
This honestly won’t happen too much in the beggining becuase you are already cheaper than most other companies. If they do ask you to go cheaper you better check your prices before you say yes or no.
What should the payment terms be?
Most companies payment terms are 50% down with the remaining 50% due at the time of completion. Unless your state has different laws, do NOT order any materials without your deposit.
Now if the customer just has you repairing something and it only requires your time then it is fine to get full payment at the end, but I would still go for the 50%
They accepted my quote! Now what????
Oh man, shit is getting real!!! This may feel overwhelming but again, super simple.
- Setup a time to meet one more time to cover the following:
- Get the deposit.
- Go over the layout one last time.
- Answer any concerns that may have.
- Let them know approximately when the project will happen.
- Explain that the final payment is due at the time of completion.
- Explain to them that you will be calling 811
- This is for the utility companies to mark out any public utilities.
- Explain that you are not responsible for any private utilities.
- Sprinkler systems
- Pool lines
- gas lines for grills
- If you have to order special order materials explain to them that they may not be returned.
The purpose of 811 is so that you don’t blow anything (maybe exaggerating a little) up or hit a sewer line (ewwww!). Most of the time it takes about 3 business days from the day you call to be allowed to dig.
DO NOT EVER DIG BEFORE 811 IS CALLED!!!!!
What information do they typically need?:
- Name of customer
- Work to be performed: fencing
- Maximum depth digging: 4 feet
- When will work be performed
- Two closest intersecting streets.
- County (just search good if unsure: “what county is town, state”
- Municipality (use bing maps, it typically has the answer for you)
Once you have the deposit you can order the materials. If the customer paid by check wait until the check clears before you order the materials.
Day Of Installation
The day has finally come! Let;s get down to business!
Like anything else, once you have a system down you will go soooo much quicker. I didn’t come from a fencing background so the first years was a lot of trial and error. I will go over the basics in the article but will make another article that describes everything in more detail along with the reasoning behind it.
- Knock up and let the customer know you are there. If the customer is not home for the installation give them a call to let them know your’re getting started.
- I know this sounds like common sense but some companies just start working without letting the customer know!
- Layout your materials for whatever you think you will get done that day.
- Set your posts next to house and your corner posts.
- Run you string line.
- Run your fence from the house to where the gate post is going to be.
- Set you gate posts but do not hang the gate yet.
- I suggest using the red quickrete bags for this that set in 30 minutes.
- I personally like 2 bag of the 50lb per gate post.
- Run rest of fence.
- Hang the gate.
- Show customer
- Answer any concerns
- Collect final payment.
- Go home and celebrate!
So you got completed your first customer and then got paid, life couldn’t be better! Or can it??
Next is the hardest part to do. Not becuase it is hard but becuase you won’t see the immediate results that will keep you motivated to keep you going.
Your first step should be to sign up for my free newsletter. If you want the information to blow past your competition take the 14 seconds to sign up. It’s completely free and will only help improve your business.
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