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General Upholstery Questions and Comments => General Discussion => Topic started by: RandyOnR3 on February 02, 2012, 10:47:47 AM

Title: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 02, 2012, 10:47:47 AM
  We're finding something odd happening around our shop and not sure how to handle it...
   For years , its been my wife and I and kept it that way for control purpose of quality..
   Well, our quality business has created a landfall of customers and a good size backlog of work..  started with adding another Canvas guy and he is god sent.. with over 15 years experance, I can turn him lose and the job gets done..
  add another to run the quilt room and all is well there but recently we added a couple doing upholstery work..
   and our business has turned from a small personal shop to a business.. and little things are bugging me, like someone making coffee at 3 in the afternoon, or going through my tool box for a speciality wrinch..  or something as simple as rearanging the incoming fabric..
   I feel like my space has been invaded and I'm really uncomfortable about it..

At times I feel like yelling at someone for crossing boundries but being the business is growing, I myself dont know where those boundries are anymore.....
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: JuneC on February 02, 2012, 07:55:26 PM
Ooooo, I do feel your pain.  I have to bite my tongue sometimes.  I don't have employees, but share my shop with my husband and our boat refit business and have gotten crazy when, on occasion, one of the subcontractors assume what's ours is theirs.  For instance, a painter who shows up with no paint, not enough sandpaper, no stirrer, etc and proceeds to raid our supply shelves for their missing items.  Now if they were employees, I'd be responsible to give them supplies, but not subs  :-\ 

And then, on occasion, one will grab a pair of my scissors and cut fiberglass with them  >:(  Or make off with one of my tools without asking/telling and I spend a good 30 minutes looking for said tool before I figure out someone took it.  >:( >:(  It's VERY non-productive. 

IMHO, for your own sanity, and before you lose it and lay into one of them verbally, set some boundaries so everybody knows.  If they then cross one of them, you have a valid point for a serious conversation.  One thing I've found is that many people are completely oblivious and will assume that everything in the shop is fair game.  Sometimes they truly try to be helpful, but are a hinderance (like our mechanic one day saw me struggling with a vinyl skin and got Awlgrip (paint) on it trying to help me pull it on).  You need to spell it out and carve out your own space/tasks/whatever that'll keep you happy.  I often wondered why so many small businesses hired a manager when there were just a few employees.  Now I know its to shield the business owner from the aggravation that happens on a daily basis. 

June
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: bobbin on February 02, 2012, 07:57:02 PM
Ask yourself this question:  "is this the hill I want to die on?"

I completely understand having "your way" disrupted.  But is your way the only way? is the rearrangement an improvement from the other person's perspective?  see where I'm going with this? sometimes we get "territorial" for no good reason, other times there's a very good reason!

Tools.  Big issue!  In my own shop I'm very careful with them and put them away when I'm finished with them.  I bought 'em, paid for 'em, and when I need 'em I don't want to jackass around hunting for 'em!  The husband has felt the wrath of the She-Devil a couple of times and now "knows better" unless permission is given.  So, when I'm "workin' for the man" I am equally "anal" and easily pissed off when I have to hunt for something I need, find the steamer full of water that's been sitting in it for weeks, or find glue all over the foam saw's blades.  Seeing the only 1/4" welting set up left carelessly on the edge of the machine bench (over the trash barrell) sends my blood pressure up.  But, know what? I'm careful, if the others aren't and things are lost... I really don't give a -hit.  Not my problem!

Maybe coffee at 3 could be moved to a shop wide break at 2? easy fix.  Rules are good, and "no" is not a dirty word.  But you have to be clear about expectations, willing to make concessions, and willing to stand firm when you feel strongly about something.  Be up front and be honest  and you'll be fine. 
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Mike on February 02, 2012, 09:06:25 PM
I used to work a a furniture company start at 7 am. Break at 9 am lilunch a Noon 2 pm break and quit and qiuit at 3:30 I'm my worst problem for misplaced tools I try to alway place it where it goes but then I place something  somewere new and forget   I misplace my talemeasure the most. 
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: rustyeod on February 03, 2012, 09:16:14 AM
Thank you all for reafirming my desire to stay a 2 person shop, and sometimes it still seems crowded. 
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: TheHogRing on February 03, 2012, 01:28:43 PM
I'm with bobbin on this one. Expanding your business may take you out of your comfort zone, but that's only a problem if you let it be.

As the boss, it's your job to set and enforce boundaries - but be open to new ways of doing things.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 03, 2012, 04:59:55 PM
   I think its just getting used to new ways.. and boy do I have to watch my mouth..
   I'm just about to turn my 60th birthday so things arnt as easy to climb all a boat doing the marking and such..
   Our long term goal..
 Is to have the shop running on its own merit, to pay its own bills so the overhead is paid as well as the berth where we keep our 45footer.. In this way, when we retire, we will always be able to come into the shop and work on some small job and make the funds free and clear of overhead..
  and just had to hold my mouth again..
 Our Canvas guy , as good as he is, has an attidude where he always knows better or more than I and keeps telling me so.. well that could be true but he had his own business and failed.. where ours has grown.. and whenever he spouts off of doing something better or running the business like he ran his, I almost, and say almost, want to ask him if thats the reason he is still in business.....But I hold back, let him spout off,  as I.m making about 3 to 4k off him each month..
  Do I cut off my nose to spite my face............
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: bobbin on February 03, 2012, 06:06:29 PM
Define the parameters of the "hill you want to die on". 

You're still "all about" how "right" you are.  But you haven't bothered to share your "rules" with the rest of the crew.  Smarten up, dummy!

I was polite the first time around.  If it isn't working,  the odds are your ability to "take it in" is slim to virtually nil.  If you're unable to move up a notch professionally, it's OK.  But be honest with your emloyee(s) and continue on with what works for you.

I'd be looking for the door, personally.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: TheHogRing on February 03, 2012, 06:30:36 PM
$3-4K off of him alone? What he's doing is working. As long as your reputation stays good and the quality of the work he does is something you can be proud of, I say let him slide with the tiny things.

Why not let him win a few little battles? Seems like you're the one winning the war here...
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 03, 2012, 06:52:04 PM
The volley here between Bobbin and Randy is interesting.
Bobbin expresses herself from the point of view of an employee who has a knucklehead boss that can't see the forest for the trees. Just from reading her posts on this forum, I have no doubt that she has ideas that would make her day job go infinitely smoother, but the boss is stuck in his old ways.

Randy writes from the other side, the boss who doesn't want his employees telling him how to run things.
You could probably walk into any workplace in America, and find employees that think their boss is an idiot, and a boss who exclaims "You just get good help anymore!".
 
Randy: you've been biting your tongue so far, and that's probably for the best. Remember, no matter how intolerable you think your employees are, you could always find some that are WORSE.

I'm kinda with the others, pick your battles. But there probably IS a tactfull way to let that guy know that his way isn't the definitive one. As you pointed out, if he was 100% right, he'd still have his own business.

But I think you've already summed up your own problem....Growing pains!
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RocketmanMH1 on February 03, 2012, 08:36:52 PM
What we have here ............ Is a FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE!!!!!!!!!!  UMMHH AAAHHH  I ah I         uh I     oh         What I mean to say is  if you can deal with the jackasses that come in the door wanting you to do work for them and you have the people skills to talk to them and get the mission accomplished, why the heck can't you give your employees the same respect?   

An open line of communication is the foundation of any relationship be it professional or otherwise.  If you don't know how to say what you want them to hear ask them what would they do in your position ....AND LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN. 

Did you ever work for someone who did not give a hoot what you had to say??  I mean really work your tail off for that person and they chopped off your comments regarding how to handle a situation? Then if the answer is yes you need to back the trolley up and open an ear!!!

The guy you got making you that kind of margin on him is kicking butt!!!! Sure his business failed, but why,   probably not because he didn't work hard enough, I know plenty  of people that are extremely intelligent but couldn't manage money well enough to keep a shop open.

The problems you mention in your first post are problems I would looooovvvvveeee to have!!!!!!!!!!   Someone making me that kind of money I would ask him at 3 everyday, You need a pot of coffee dude???        The tool box however I would have to take the hit and buy a shop box with all those special tools and call it the shop box, and keep mine locked up. Where I come from you'd be better off messin with a guys wife than his tools!!!lol

 I really do think the answer to your problems lies in the ability to communicate from any frame of mind, meaning.... If youre mad or sad or pissed or grumpy or ?????????? ,  You still need to see your self thirty years ago looking back at that person and give them the respect you want and wanted when years ago you were in their shoes.



After all, Life needs to be about enjoying what you do, and do that everyday.... BECAUSE TOMORROW..... IT COULD ALL FALL APART AND BE GONE!!!!
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 03, 2012, 09:29:36 PM
Define the parameters of the "hill you want to die on". 

You're still "all about" how "right" you are.  But you haven't bothered to share your "rules" with the rest of the crew.  Smarten up, dummy!

I was polite the first time around.  If it isn't working,  the odds are your ability to "take it in" is slim to virtually nil.  If you're unable to move up a notch professionally, it's OK.  But be honest with your emloyee(s) and continue on with what works for you.

I'd be looking for the door, personally.

  No I dont think so.........I'm the one with the degree in business, I.m also the one that started this business and its my work that has built it to the point to where it is now..
he is an employee, nothing more and nothing less, he didnt build this business, work 12 to 14 hours a day for years  to make it work or put in the workmanship or detail to make it work..
  and your coment has made me realize he is a piece of meat to be paid for his work and nothing more..
Thanks Bobbin
   
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: hidebound on February 03, 2012, 09:53:18 PM
     I might be wrong but I think what Bobbin meant is if she were the employee she would be looking for the door.

As for myself as soon as I felt that the boss thought I was a piece of meat to be paid for my work and nothing more I would find that door quickly.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 03, 2012, 10:15:19 PM
     I might be wrong but I think what Bobbin meant is if she were the employee she would be looking for the door.

As for myself as soon as I felt that the boss thought I was a piece of meat to be paid for my work and nothing more I would find that door quickly.

  and as an employee, why would you expect anything more than a good wage for the work you do.. and only that.. This guy dosent need to know how I run my business..
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 03, 2012, 10:54:29 PM
Reading these threads makes me wonder.
Would you rather have a boss that treats you like a "piece of meat", but pays well?
Or would you rather have one that treats you with the utmost respect, highly values your opinion, even lets you make executive decisions, but pays poorly?

Randy: Is your canvas guy trying to tell you how to run the business end of things? If so, I agree with you. You're the one with the business degree, not him. All he has on his resume is a failed business.

OR is he trying to tell you how to run the "nuts and bolts" of the actual canvas work? If that's the case, there's gotta be a way that you can at least show him that you value his opinion and experience, while at the same time maintaining control of the final decisions.

I hope it works out for you AND him. Good stitchers are getting rarer every year. I'd hate to see egos get in the way of a growing enterprise.
Title: Re: Growing painstaking
Post by: Peppy on February 03, 2012, 11:33:36 PM
     I might be wrong but I think what Bobbin meant is if she were the employee she would be looking for the door.

As for myself as soon as I felt that the boss thought I was a piece of meat to be paid for my work and nothing more I would find that door quickly.

  and as an employee, why would you expect anything more than a good wage for the work you do.. and only that.. This guy dosent need to know how I run my business..

Um.... because I'm making you 3-4k a week? I realize you're making much more profit from me than I'm receiving in a weekly wage. I will work hard for my wage. I will work harder for bonuses. You treat me like meat, ie belittle my skills, petty tool gripes, unfounded attacks on speed of work- I'm gone with Bobbin.

The boss and I had a big fight a couple of years ago. Almost ended with divorce. He, who had been distancing himself from the shop (as you want to do) would come back in and flex his tyrant muscle. Typically it was in the spring, doing year end and sitting on recievables, he would come in to rang on us that we were working to slow, and doing everything the wrong way, and the shop was to messy.

Well, if he wants to be gone (he's been in Mexico the last 4 weeks) he'll have to put up with how things get done when he's not there. This fight was hinged around me using fish scales to tension frame work ("I've been doing it....30yrs.... I've taught x# of people to make boat tops ect ect) In the end he came to peice with the fact that if he wants the business to run itself, he'll have to put up with the fact that the business may not run itself the way he would want it too. If I require fish scales to build a perfect boat top why should he care, drinking daquries in Mexico?

Its been a while andI'll need a raise soon. When's the last time you gave him one? Or a cup of coffee? Or (more important) a pat on the back? I will bust ass for the corporation, and I know the corporation needs to make money before I do, but I need to get mine. If I'm getting flak from boss man while I'm trying to make a corporate buck.......
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: hidebound on February 04, 2012, 07:57:25 AM
 
Quote
and as an employee, why would you expect anything more than a good wage for the work you do.. and only that.. This guy dosent need to know how I run my business..


As an employee I expect contributions to the success of the business to be recoginized. Not only financialy but in ways that make me feel a part of the team, because every employee has a vested interest in the success of the company.

Quote
Would you rather have a boss that treats you like a "piece of meat", but pays well?
Or would you rather have one that treats you with the utmost respect, highly values your opinion, even lets you make executive decisions, but pays poorly?

I want to be compensated fairly for the work I do. I also require respect for my abilities.

If I am as good at my job as this guy obviously is I would expect my opinon to be valued with respect to the day to day mechanics of my job. I would not offer an opinion on the business aspects unless asked.


As an employee I have to understand that the sole responsibility for the success or failure of the business rest squarely on the shoulders of the owner/ manager, and the final decisions has to be his and must also be respected. Respect is a 2 way street.

On the flip side as an employer I would have no interest in an employee who only cared about being highly compensated for his work but took no interest inthe overall success or failure of the business.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 04, 2012, 08:31:45 AM
Quote
Would you rather have a boss that treats you like a "piece of meat", but pays well?
Or would you rather have one that treats you with the utmost respect, highly values your opinion, even lets you make executive decisions, but pays poorly?

I want to be compensated fairly for the work I do. I also require respect for my abilities.
OK, the first rule of hypotheticals is: You must choose from the options as they are presented. You can't "tweak" them by selecting the best of both. :D

Randy: I hope that you'll give us more info to work with. So far, the sentiment is leaning toward your canvas guy.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: hidebound on February 04, 2012, 08:40:41 AM
If I have to follow the rule of hypotheticals, the short answer is neither.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 04, 2012, 08:51:20 AM
If I have to follow the rule of hypotheticals, the short answer is neither.
Second rule: You can't choose "neither".
Hypotheticals are specially designed to make you crazy.  :-\
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: hidebound on February 04, 2012, 09:14:08 AM
You sound like my boss Sofadoc. Rules, rules rules  ;D

The rules exclude a common sense approach to the problem.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 04, 2012, 09:46:37 AM
   A little more info......
  as I said, my reason for bringing someone in was to able me to somewhat retire from the hard action work done from day to day..
   As a shop owner and many will agree, you dont make alot of money, even thou it looks like it.. overhead eats up a major part, from insurance, workers comp, phones, and the lease on the building..
   My goal is to go back to the custom work that made our business in the first place and leave the production work to someone else..

   So we break from our norm and hire someone.. actually we've gone throu 10 to 15 people over the last couple of years.. our work and reputation is the best around and so is the pay..
    My canvas Guy makes 35 dollars an hour and full medical..
 I'm a bit anel about the work leaving the shop so you better be showing me the best you can do and giving me 110% when you walk throu the door..
   My issues are NOT with the work he is doing.. Its with his attitude.. There isnt anything I'm doing around the shop that he has'nt done better,  faster, or more effective than I..
  a good example,
 More times than I can count, he's brought up the idea of stocking rolls of fabric and remodeling the shop to handle the stock.. and each time, I say thats not the way we do things around here..
 and my reasoning which I.ve explained was that all our fabric is only one day away, from TriVantage, and no stock is needed.
 so he comes back and says that if a quick job comes in, the fabric is at hand and he can knock it out and make some good funds..
   so in my mind and with business sence, I'm thinking we've got 10k in fabric stock in different colors for the breff chance that someone will come in and want something done that day..I dont think so..
so I'm walking a fine line, as I dont want to mouth off to the guy and say that If I ran my business like he did, we'd go under, and because I've not only been able to survive this economy but I've been able to grow while others have closed their doors, I must be dooing something right..
  Another example,
 He came in earlier this week and said he was taking Saturday morning off to go bid on a fleet of houseboats over 100 miles away.. I told him taking off was fine and I wished him luck in getting the job done.. as he was,nt going to bring the work in here..
 He acted pushed out of shape but experance has shown me that fleet work has to be bid at the closest margin and one screwup where you have to return to the job and you,ve lost your tail.. and besides that, we are in an up scale marina, charging hight price for custom work, with over 3000 boats within a 3 mile area, 4oo in ourr marina just across the parking lot so there is no reason to leave and drive 100 miles away.. and besides, its the start of the year and we're already booking jobs 3 mounths out.. we dont need a fleet of houseboats..
  So again, I in an uncomfortable position because I have to explain to an employee that I run a sucessfull business and dont need him to take any more part than to set behind the machine and do what I hired him to do..
  Sorry for the ramble.....  
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: jojo on February 04, 2012, 09:51:44 AM
See, this is why I work for myself now. We've all seen Peppy's work. It's excellent. So wtf difference does it make how he does it if the end result is perfect?
The last guy I worked for was so controlling he tried to tell me where to put my pencil down after drawing a line on the canvas. Yep, he looked over my shoulder as if I didn't know how to read a ruler. I left at lunchtime and never came back. Best decision I ever made.
Randy, just read your last post. Yeah, he does sound pushy. Sounds like he needs to take a stab at owning his own shop again.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: baileyuph on February 04, 2012, 10:47:58 AM
As a reader of this discussion does  "not" make me an expert.

The employee is showing an inordinate focus of changing the business plan, why is the question for him, not the employer.

The employer is paying the employee very well to do canvas, not get involved with the business operations, again business plan.  Again, as a reader, I am not an expert.  But run this data in front of jury and it is not a solid guilty on the employer.

As a side comment, the employee could still have dreams of doing his own business, which could explain what appears his emotions.  

If I were the employee, I would not see any problem with supporting this business owners plan.  

I purposely don't use anologies to describe a relationship, they can quickly shade the understanding of the reader.

Randy thanks for sharing, but you are the closest to the problem, definitely not a reader and the best suited to handle the situation going forward.  For example don't read what we say as justifying a business decision.

You can answer the issue brought up regarding communication expectations to the employees.  Those are important but that does not mean you aren't managing the important requirements.  Only you and your wife might throw that around?

Based on the information at hand, probably nothing will change, the employee might continue to over focus on business decisions but would be a fool to walk away from the pay and his benefits, especially for something that might not be as real.

Good luck for Randy and the employee.

Doyle
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Peppy on February 04, 2012, 01:46:08 PM
Quote
My canvas Guy makes 35 dollars an hour and full medical..

Well shut my mouth! And he should shut his! It does sound like he's having dreams of his old shop and being the big man.

As an employee, I get certain advantages over the boss. I get paid no matter what. (I love my boss and the shop, but it's about the money honey.) It isn't my worry when the furnace breaks, or the taxes are due or ect ect. But I'm also the hired hand. The boss is the boss. My job is to produce the work, how that gets done shouldn't be his problem as long as it's done to his standard. How the boss gets the jobs isn't my concern as long as the work keeps coming. I offer my opinion often, but I'm not surprised when it's often ignored. Customers frequently come to me with work and I show them the front door of the shop. For the shop to run efficiently the work should flow through proper channels. If five people are quoting work things work will get double booked, jobs will get forgotten, customers will get angry, everyone will suffer (don't ask how I know). Too many chiefs, not enough indians. Managers should manage, workers should work, and customers should pay.

Maybe he feels he could run the shop better than you, and maybe he could. But unless you decide to let him, he should get back to work.

Personally, I agree with your view of mass production. To be profitable you need to make it so crappy that it'll hurt your reputation as a Quality Custom Canvas fabricator.

***please treat this free advice as you would all other pseudo-annonymus advice you'd find on the internet, meaning worthless***
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: JuneC on February 04, 2012, 02:05:31 PM
Randy, you pay him very well.  He is doing excellent work for your customers. This guy sees himself as much more than just an employee.  He's having some difficulty stepping out of his business owner's shoes and into the shoes of "just" an employee and maybe you need to have a heart to heart with him and as all of us on here have agreed, set some boundaries.  It's definitely your call what gets ordered and when and how much but he has a need to feel a part of your business and some appreciation for his contribution to your success.  I don't think you want to completely shut him out and have him be nothing but a cog in the wheel.  If he comes up with a new method or tool to save time or materials, you need him to feel free to discuss it.  On the other hand, certain business operations remain your domain, not his.  

When he comes up with some comment or suggestion that you believe is not in his domain, take a few minutes to explain your rationale, not just some comment to the fact that you're the business owner and you've decided that's the way it's going to be.  With his desire to have you keep stock of fabrics you might not use for years to come, I'd sit down with him and do the math with his input.  

  - How many jobs does he think you lose because the fabric is a day away
  - What would be the carrying cost of x yards of fabric in stock for x months/years
  - What are the possible opportunity costs of having $$ tied up in fabric
 
He's not privy to your cash position and he doesn't need to be.  But he does need to understand where you're coming from when you shut down one of his ideas.  I'd encourage him to keep coming with the ideas for improving the business, but make it clear that inventory levels are "off the table" when it comes to discussion.  If he ever can't complete a job on time because you ran out of something that he told you to order, then he has a valid argument.  Make him a friendly wager (if he doesn't understand your math), bet him lunch that you'll never lose a customer (or tick them off) because you couldn't deliver on time due to short stock.  

As a former employee, I know that employee "buy-in" is critical to company success.  As a business owner, I also know that managing cash flow and employee productivity is critical to company success.  As someone with an accounting degree and a former career working with fortune 500 companies on implementing just-in-time manufacturing ERP systems, I know what it can cost to have too-much of the wrong stock.  I also know what it costs to have production shut down.  

A little aside: at one auto company I worked with, each and every employee on the manufacturing line had the ability and authority to shut down the line if they saw a quality problem or something wrong coming into their workstation.  They also knew that pushing that button would cost the company $28,000 a minute.  No, that's not a misprint.  That working environment empowered them and gave each employee a HUGE responsibility.  It also ensured a quality product out the door.  

June
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 04, 2012, 08:39:23 PM
   Think I  might have solved the problem, or dumped a bigger can of worms on the pile....
    The wife and I have been going around about this for a few days now without any solution between us but have come up with something that might work..
    But befor that I must tell you that I had a nice calm talk with him, about the corrections that needed to be done on an inclosure and then softly told him that the business was mine, had run good befor he came along and was opperating according to a business plan and even thou I apreciated his input, the business would stay the same...
    Boy did that go over good... He copped an attitude after I told him we had worked to hard for the business to fail and we've put our life into it to make it work.. he mouthed of a couple things and went to work again..
   Later on I walked in and found him setting behind the sewing machine doing nothing , and he said he wasnt going to go any further until I Ok-ed the top I had found problems on..  so he's using the isues against me, so now i have to go out and inspect every little thing at his request ..
   He's now taking me away from my work..
But I found a solution... I talked it over with my wife and now made her manager of the shop.. Shes a business major and knows her stuff.. she can deal with his attitude and I can go back to doing what I like to do, building custom work..
Problem solved......................
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: jojo on February 04, 2012, 09:02:48 PM
He'll get over it. Especially when he realizes he's never going to find another job with that kind of pay and benefits.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: stitcher_guy on February 04, 2012, 10:40:33 PM
A few years ago I had one employee in a satellite shop, and two employees working for me in the main shop. Plus my wife doing the bookwork/business side of things. That's when quality sunk and I didn't get to touch a project. I was too busy making sure they didn't screw things up. And I wasn't overly controlling, I just wasn't seeing the shop produce the quality that it should. It is also the one time I totally blew my top and yelled at the two guys in my shop because it just wasn't working out.

Nowadays, I have one employee who is also a long-time friend and as devoted to PRO Stitch's success as I am. He sells us whenever he can. Today, for example, he was getting his hair cut and talking to the stylist about a chair he'd already sold her on. In the process, he sold another patron on a headliner and actually went to another person's house afterwards to take rocker cushions and brought them out. And this was on his day off!!

Yet, there are days when I want to kill him. He will bite off more than he can chew with a project sometimes. If it will be a learning experience to let him mess up but not cost me money in materials, I will let him. He is a hands-on learner. But, if I see disaster looming, he will listen to me when I tell him "Do it exactly how I say, because I've already screwed things up trying it other ways, and you need to listen to what I'm telling you."

He is almost obsessive/compulsive about picking up and stacking things. i'll lay a tool down to move a project or do another part of it, and he'll take the tool and put it away. Then I'm stuck looking around. It's simply a matter of weighing the good with the bad and realizing that his presence in the shop is an overall plus, and I have to bite the bullet and let things happen the way they will.

Bottom line, though, no matter how good he is or how we get along, it is my shop, my mortgage and my name on everything that rolls out of here. It isn't necessarily done my way, but it is done to my expectations. We both undersatnd this, realize it, and accept it.

Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Mojo on February 05, 2012, 07:49:05 AM
Pretty simple solution.... When the investment is all yours and the risks rest squarely on your shoulders then you have the final word. When an employee starts believing they can run your operation better then you.....well....then it is clear that employees ego is writing checks his ass cannot cash. From there it can be a a real fast downhill slide as your seeing with childish behavior.

believe it or not as part of my marketing duties I used to project manage energy projects which included a team of techs, engineers and field support personnel. I was the liaison between clients and our company. It was just the way things were done by our company. After a couple projects together with my team they learned my managing style. I basically told them I could give a rats ass how they went about their work and for all I cared they could do their work at a desk inside a strip club. But they knew I had  stringent rules for my projects 1.) The project came in on time 2.) the project came in on budget 3.) the project met the quality standards as outlined before the job began. I then concluded my speech with - if you do not meet these demands your ass is grass and I am the lawn mower. Thankfully none did their work from a strip club though there were a couple  late night strategy sessions / meetings that took place there. :)

I never micro managed them nor did I hold their hands. I never told them how to do their work, when and where. I allowed them to manage their own work and held them accountable.

The one thing I have learned about managing employees is to sit down, have meetings, discuss things and listen to their suggestions ( and complaints ). You then adapt yourself to your workforce and the most important part of the equation is getting the employee Buy In. Make them feel as if they are a major part of your success and be sure to share those successes with them. The entire goal is production time - costs - quality. Why should the business owner care how their employees meet these goals as long as they are met ?

You have never worked with and managed a harder group of people then technicians and engineers. Their egos can be amazing and their ability to think outside the box ( and throw aside their textbooks and professors laws of engineering and BS theory ) can be very difficult.

I always allowed my teams to do whatever they wanted in regards to their own work. But I never allowed them to run or control my projects. There is a difference. The ultimate responsibility fell on my shoulders and it was my rear end that was going to lose its hide if the projects didn't meet all expectations.

Chris

 
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: gene on February 05, 2012, 09:59:20 AM
The best boss I ever had was a sales manager when I was a sales rep. His total focus was on how to help me meet and exceed my annual sales budget and stay within my annual expense budget. He said I could play golf 5 days a week as long as my sales goals were being met. He knew, as I did, that I could not meet my sales goals if I was playing golf 5 days a week.

He had 3 things that were a priority for him with his sales and customer service people:
1. What is expected of me?
2. How am I doing?
3. Money.

He was extremely good at taking people where they were and working with them from that point forward.

Randy, good luck with your employee. It sounds like you have a very talented and motivated worker.

gene

Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 05, 2012, 03:43:36 PM
    More times than I can count, he's brought up the idea of stocking rolls of fabric and remodeling the shop to handle the stock.. and each time, I say thats not the way we do things around here.. 
I've had mostly "helpers" over the years, but about 12 years ago, I did employ a full fledged skilled upholsterer.
He had the same bright idea about stocking fabric. After all, that's the way HE did things when he had his own business (which also failed coincidentally).
I said "Tell ya what. You can buy as many rolls as you want out of YOUR pocket. And I'll just take 10% off the top of any you sell".
Seemed like a good deal to me. All he had to do was "Put his money where his mouth was".............It ended right there.

I know the cost of living can vary greatly according to region (some school teachers here in Texas say they make less than a garbage man in California), but 35 bucks an hour and medical sounds pretty good for a guy who just has to show up, shut up,  and do what he's told.

The idea of your wife being the hardass could actually work. Sometimes a change of gender is all you need to create the separation necessary between boss/employee. Odds are, he'll be less likely to throw his vast knowledge in her face. He'll just accept her decisions as "the way it is".
Either that, or the whole thing blows up by the end of the week. ;)
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: bobbin on February 05, 2012, 06:23:52 PM
Degrees in business mean nothing in the big picture, Randy.  I know plenty of very successful business people who never bothered to finish their degrees, if they even went to college at all... you have only to look to the "high tech" sector" to prove my point!  Since business was one of my fields of study, too, you can skip that excuse with me, OK? ;)

As I clearly stated, it's your business and you may do with it whatever you choose.  If what you're doing now is working for you and the (clearly) very competent and skilled employer (well paid "piece of meat") is bringing in that much business and you feel so strongly about his "meddling" then you should can his ass and continue on as you did before... but have you "run the numbers"? you likely have or you wouldn't raise the issue of canning him!

What I see plainly in what you've written is really a quest for validation.  You really already know what you want to do, but you want others to tell you that you're perfectly justified.  You are! it's your business and you may conduct it any way you so choose.  Treating  your own situation as a "case study" (remember those?) and stepping back is really hard, but it's imperative if you're going to "grow your business" because those danged employees are always going to be pesky variables.  How much you pay them and what you offer for benefits has no place in the discussion.  The issue here is your business model and your business' protocols.  Using pay and benefits as leverage to avoid what seem to be clear gaps in your business plan is unfair and to an employee a "chain jerk".  

It's probably a good move to turn the day to day stuff over to your wife.  Your "attitude" comes across loud and clear to me, which is not to say that the guy in question isn't packing plenty of it, too!  

Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: scottymc on February 05, 2012, 08:49:46 PM
Ask yourself this question:  "is this the hill I want to die on?"

Thank you Bobbin, I love that one.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Mojo on February 06, 2012, 06:40:36 AM
Ask yourself this question:  "is this the hill I want to die on?"

I completely understand having "your way" disrupted.  But is your way the only way? is the rearrangement an improvement from the other person's perspective?  see where I'm going with this? sometimes we get "territorial" for no good reason, other times there's a very good reason!

Bobbin brings something to this table that most of us cannot. She has worked in the production setting of shops and she currently works in a shop she does not own. Her insight I think can help many of us as she sees things from the other side of the fence.

I am sure she cannot wait for the day to tell her cheap boss to go stuff himself and go full time in her own operation. She will take with her years of knowledge and no doubt be successful.

If Bobbin worked for me I would be the boss that got out of her way, gave her all the tools she needed and then watch her make us all money. If I had a particular problem she would be the first I would go to for advice. Because I know her ideas would more then likely make me money. She has posted a number of times how time saving tools could speed her production up and make her job easier. Yet her boss is apparently close minded and only looks at costs and considers nothing but HIS way of doing things. being a cheapskate can actually cost you money not save you money.

The greatest asset any business owner will ever have is their employees. Giving them whatever they need to be more productive is the name of the game. The more productive they are the more money you make. It is a no brainer.

But you also have to have that mentality with your employees of " screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me. "

Chris
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 06, 2012, 01:16:46 PM
   After this past weekend, we've decided to let him go after we can find a replacement..
   We came in on saturday, after a sailboat race with the yacht club, he thought we'd be gone for the weekend..
    He Had his daughter, and his dad working on projects at my machines, and the good part..
    The projects were NOT from our shop...............
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Mojo on February 06, 2012, 01:33:35 PM
OMG........ What the hell is the matter with people ?

He is probably doing projects and making money behind your back then.

Good riddance and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Smart move on your part. :)
I am very big on trust and if I cannot trust some one I wont deal with them.

Chris
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: JuneC on February 06, 2012, 05:54:00 PM
Holy cow... :o  I'm with Chris on this one.  That takes big brass ones and with what you've been paying him he has absolutely no right (even if you didn't pay him well) to do something like that without your knowledge or permission.  He's probably rationalized somehow in his mind that he deserves to be able to do work on the side, but that's just crazy.  ???

June
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 06, 2012, 06:10:34 PM
I once had a guy working for me who wanted to use my shop for his moonlighting projects. I gave him 3 rules:
1) It had to be work that I would've turned down anyway (such as auto).
2) I get 10% off the top PLUS money for any supplies consumed.
3) NO AIR CONDITIONER OR HEATER unless he wanted to chip in with the electric bill

He found those parameters unacceptable. He was one of those guys that thought the whole world owed him a living.

Randy: You said that you went through 10-15 stitchers before you found this guy. You sure you want to "break in" another one?
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: byhammerandhand on February 06, 2012, 06:33:10 PM
When I was in corporate management, one of the things we learned as "classic business" is that lack of money is a de-motivator, but at a certain point, more money is not a motivator.  If you are paying someone $90K a year and they hate their job, paying them $100K a year is not going to make them happy or a better worker.  I grew up in an area where there were tons of union jobs in the steel and auto industries.  Most of those workers were well paid with wages and benefits, but almost all hated their jobs.

Maslow's hierarchy, etc.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: gene on February 06, 2012, 07:25:22 PM
Don't let the door hit you,
where the good Lord split you.

gene
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Peppy on February 06, 2012, 09:03:44 PM
O_o  Some people...

Now that is the best benefit of where I work, the shop is at my disposal. I'm free to use it anytime, although for my own personal projects. I always tell my boss what I'm working on and it's never side jobs for cash or anything like that. Only for me or maybe family. And this is an arrangement my boss and I have made, everything is up front. I know exactly what would happen if I tried to sneak in a paying job after hours. One- in this small town it would get back to him by breakfast time and two- the door wouldn't hit my ass 'cause I'd be thrown through it.

People often try to get me to do side jobs and I say, "If you can't afford me on Monday, what makes you think you can afford me on Sunday?"
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Mojo on February 07, 2012, 08:52:18 AM
"If you can't afford me on Monday, what makes you think you can afford me on Sunday?"

Wow.....Deja Vu. I had an old girlfriend who used to say the same thing to me. Turns out
I couldn't afford her and sent her packing. :)

Chris
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: Mike on February 07, 2012, 02:27:40 PM
ill bet the guy wanted you Randy to stock thoose rolls so he dould us some of it for his jobs.  sounds like you dont need that crp at all goood thing hes gone
ps ice been doing canvas work for about 20 years and ive allway order material fabric as i need it  snaps zippers ect that a different thing
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: bobbin on February 07, 2012, 05:57:57 PM
Wrong-o! 

I'm sure your insurance company would just love it if your insured employee's old man or kid put a needle through their finger, or worse. 

I've worked in a number of shops over the years and I can assure you that I always asked if I could use shop machinery or tools for a project of my own.  And when I say, "my own", I mean just that.  I never presumed it would be OK to do work  for my own customer on my employer's equipment.  As a result, I've never worked for anyone who denied me access to something in the shop or ever failed to offer me materials at cost.  One hand washes the other in that circumstance. 

Hammer.'s comment about money not "being everything" is dead on, at least in my opinion.  There is so much more in the entire employment picture.  Professional courtesy and respect are paramount in my estimation.  Nothing  shuts me down faster than being spoken to as though I'm some "know nothin'" 18-19 yr. old and it's what fuels my desire to knuckle down and tend to the drearier aspects of getting my own shop fully up to speed. 
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: stitcher_guy on February 09, 2012, 02:29:34 AM
Shane, who works for me now, doesn't get paid hardly a pittance. I do what I can and his benefit package is that we sponsor his show car and I help him with upholstery needs free of charge (he buys material at my cost). But no medical, paid time off or anything. He never complains about the wage because he loves working in the shop and has fun doing his job. Wow, I'd go to work for someone at $35 an hour wage. Heavens.

Anyone who has ever worked for me has always had access to the shop for personal projects, even storage of their projects. But they also always understand that if they do it for pay then they have become the competition and they are gone.
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: fingers on February 09, 2012, 06:09:19 AM
I've always been an employee but maintained a shop at my house for over 20 years. Never once have I ever stole a job from my employer though a couple of customers did inquire. It flies in the face of common sense. There was one instance I violated a conflict of interest between employers and I suffered Catholic guilt of biblical proportions. Even my father told me not to sweat it. No employer suffered because of it and I got off easy but I never want to revisit that bad judgement again.
 
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 09, 2012, 11:09:31 AM
  The bad part about it , and I did let him go, as well as the couple doing our upholstery,
The next person will pay for the last ones falts..  He or She will have to EARN their stripes,  and i've had many come throu saying they are qualified to do the work only to find out they do shaddy work..
  I do need help but the next person wont be a canves person, only a helper and we'll start him or her out sweeping floors and cutting material.. and at minamum wage..
  We'll farm out our upholstery work if need be.
  and my Son came in yesterday and said something profound-- he said while looking for an employee just remember, "you're fishing from a pond of unemployed people"..  Think about it.


   Even thou this thread was started as somewhat of a "Rant" it has shown a difference between employer and employee, what they think and what is expected..  Thanks
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: sofadoc on February 09, 2012, 08:14:28 PM
Just about everything that can be said regarding this topic has been said.

Randy:  Bobbin, Fingers, and Peppy are rare exceptions. There certainly isn't enough of people like them to go around. I don't think you're going to find the kind of employees that you're looking for. Unless their name is on the sign outside, they don't care. And over-paying them isn't going to make them care.
Again, with few notable exceptions, "If they were any good, they'd already have their own shop".
That's why I just do what I can do with my 2 hands, and then go home everyday.
If you don't mind sharing, how did the canvas guy take it?
Title: Re: Growing pains
Post by: RandyOnR3 on February 10, 2012, 10:53:09 AM
Just about everything that can be said regarding this topic has been said.

If you don't mind sharing, how did the canvas guy take it?

 I kinda figured I'd leave that one alone until someone asked..
A couple things odd have happened over the last week to make our minds up..
 a week or so ago he was sent out to install a cockpit cover on a boat.. took a couple hours at the end of the day and because he was using his own truck and doing it on the way home, I gave him cash for gas and sent him on his way.. it wasnt until monday morning (a week later) after the customer got the bill that I got a call about the cover..  the cover had never been installed.. and was still in his truck.
 Monday morning  I went out to inspect the inclosure he was working on, and found areas where he had set a snap and later pulled the snap and put it in  a half inch off leaving a hole in the material.. dont know what he was thinking but was unacceptable..
  I came back to the shop and opened his work box and found a box ov 1000 snaps both male and female along with a fe bags of other items pulled from our inventory..
 Now back to your question,
  he walked in on tuestay morning, both my wife and I were at our desks having coffee and I told him that I was sorry but we had made the decision to let him go..
 Odd thing, he smiled said OK,  walked over , picked up his stuff and walked out the door..  no questions, no "I'm sorry", nothing..
 Later that day the wife informed me that he owed us almost 800 in advances he had made.. dont think I'll ever see that money again..