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Does a one-man service shop need a helper?

  • Having a helper is great. Huge help.

    Votes: 6 26.1%
  • Having a helper is a necessary evil for a one-man shop.

    Votes: 7 30.4%
  • I work alone, but when needed I subcontract temp. laborers.

    Votes: 9 39.1%
  • I always work alone, I just avoid two-man jobs entirely.

    Votes: 1 4.3%
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waterheaterzone.com
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Discussion Starter #1
This poll is for the one-truck service operations out there.

What is your opinion on having a helper? Sometimes I really wish I had a helper, for things like water heaters, bigger jobs, crawlspaces, digging jobs, etc.
Other times I really enjoy the peace and quiet of working alone, and getting to keep the money I would normally have to pay the helper.

So, is it worth it to have a fulltime helper if you are a one-man-shop? Or is it better to work alone, and either hire out temporary labor when needed (companies like Laborready), or just turn away jobs that require two men?
 

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1,880 Posts
I would love to have a full time helper . The problem is ,,,

Not a lot to do on most jobs for a helper .

CAN'T find someone who wants to work hard 5-6 days in a row or 50 weeks a year.

Good driving record . NOT

Willing to put in the time to learn the trade .

Cal
 

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200 Posts
I would love to have a full time helper . The problem is ,,,

Not a lot to do on most jobs for a helper .

CAN'T find someone who wants to work hard 5-6 days in a row or 50 weeks a year.

Good driving record . NOT

Willing to put in the time to learn the trade .

Cal
Can't someone who wants to get dirty or crawl under house with bugs, mice, sewage, etc.
 

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LeMarr Plumbing, Inc.
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772 Posts
I can't find anyone that can stay sober long enough to get a job completed around here, lol.
I chuckled at that. It is crazy true for the most part.
P&M Mag did a statistic that if you tell people that you drug test and background check, 53% will walk away or never return.
If had 100 apply to work and I tell them that, 53 will walk away. UNREAL.
That statistic was a national number. Before I got to that number I came up with my own # for what I have witnessed in our area. I wa guessing somewhere in the 60's.

Back on topic:thumbsup:
I have a good friend that I can call to lend me a hand for a few minutes.

In Christ,

Song Dog
 

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112 Posts
for a one man shop I think its an absolute must. If you have the work, that is... The company I work for would be in trouble if we had no helpers. We currently have 2 and their is a couple 2 man jobs everyday. Usually 4 or 5 jobs a day that need a couple guys. The boss has to decide who gets the helpers in the morning :)

I prefer to not work with a helper cause I have to charge half rate for their time. Usually when a helper rides with me for the day, I only bill out about 2-3 hours for them if we are just doing service calls. I'd rather just bill out for me because I know the customer is getting their monies worth. Charging for a guy standing around does not sit well with me which is what most helpers end up doing.
 

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913 Posts
I prefer to not work with a helper cause I have to charge half rate for their time. Usually when a helper rides with me for the day, I only bill out about 2-3 hours for them if we are just doing service calls. I'd rather just bill out for me because I know the customer is getting their monies worth. Charging for a guy standing around does not sit well with me which is what most helpers end up doing.
If you cannot use a helper the majority of the time, you are charging your customers (or reducing your profits) to have the luxury of a stand by helper. We avoided two man jobs for this reason. However, when just an extra pair of hands were needed (water heater in an attic), we used a guy we knew who could help out a few hours here and there.
 

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I normally work alone, but when I get a big job, I have two guys that I always hire their services to help me, they have little plumbing knowledge, I normally use them to the hard work, digg whole and stuff like that. I wish I could hire one of them permanently but with all this crisis.........
 

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residential service
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I work alone ... all by myself ... and you know when I work alone I prefer to be by myself.


When I have to have help though I call on a former employer who has a small shop. He'll either send someone or come help himself. When I get overflow that I just can't get to or if I'm out of town I send him the calls. If they are my clients he takes care of them and doesn't try to capture them. If they are new, he is welcome to capture them.

It's not perfect but it works.
 

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I work alone ... all by myself ... and you know when I work alone I prefer to be by myself.
I guess your just bad to the bone.

Your set up makes the most sense. It's a need meeting a need. Of course it's not perfect - NOTHING is.

When we had four guys, there were still times we were short a man. Then there are the times when we had two plumbers on the payroll and didn't need either one. It's a delicate balancing act and smells has a great balance going.
 

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Being a helper my opinion doesn't carry as much weight as some others here.

I'm going to say it depends on your helper. If the guy doesn't want to be there and just comes in for a check it might not be worth it. If you have someone hard working, who has a decent head on them, can do things without having to be told, and wants to learn then it's going to be a much better experiance.

On some jobs the time is cut in half having me there. Usually we work separately. The mechanic will take five minutes to show me what's going on then I'll go rough one bath while he does the other, or I'll do the wastes while he does the waters, or something similar. On service calls I'll go change the faucet while he does the water heater. Boilers fly together when you have two guys working on them. When we do work together the job goes much faster. Measure one piece while the other guy is cutting it put up the one you have, when he gets back you have the measurement for the next, and so on. With both of us working, one cutting, the other measuring and installing things go so much faster.

On a price job like most rough ins are I'm sure my boss is thrilled that we get a lot done. When it comes to service calls that are time and material probably not so much. I know we've been sent on service calls that were scheduled for half a day and finished in an hour which he did not like. Maybe that's why I haven't been sent to a time and material job in months.


Another thing how the heck can you do a boiler by yourself? The smaller ones we can do with two guys, very often we need three or four guys to do it.
 
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