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View Full Version : I run my business out of my house crew. I need some help



houseofgrafix
10-19-2009, 05:08 PM
I'm thinking of taking my shop to my house and running it out of my garage.
It's just a thought right now but my main reason is to take care of my son during the day. DayCare is $$$ and we don't feel he is getting the best service their.

Right now I do 80% of my business selling on the net which is good because i'm not a large walk in based sign shop.

How do you handle your "walk in" sales?
The place I'm at now is my parents auto repair shop so people will still come in and ask for stuff.
Do you just tell them to come by?

This is all just a idea now..

ProWraps
10-19-2009, 05:09 PM
99% of the time, we never meet our customers until they drop off their vehicles. it actually takes us aback when we get a phone call of someone wanting to "stop by". then again, our business model may be different than yours due to us only being a wrap shop.

Rooster
10-19-2009, 05:21 PM
I have customers come by the house all the time. As long as you have a clean and presentable shop and present a professional image nobody will care that you're working from home. In fact I have more questions asked of me by my customers about how they can do it (work from home) themselves than whether or not it impacts my business.

smdgrfx
10-19-2009, 05:28 PM
I worked from home for a few years and I did not really like it. Of course, I downsized to move into my garage. I ended up with 3 12'x30' storage units down the street and my converted garage. I did not like people coming to my home and I typically would not invite them. I do a lot of vehicle graphics and most were done on site. I used the storage units to have jobs staged up and kept substrates there. Also had one set up as a workshop. It drove me nuts, but I just couldn't find anything within my budget close to home. I finally found a new shop this year, but it's not close to home. My wife is pretty happy about my stuff out of the garage...and I am too. It had it's good points and bad, but mostly I didn't want customers knowing where I lived thinking they would just "show up" unexpectedly. I never got any negative feedback from it, but I did lose a few jobs because I just could not accommodate the job with space.

Techman
10-19-2009, 06:00 PM
I worked from my house when I moved here. It was tough. However, the bizz grew because I did not follow a retail bizz model. IT works but you have to compromise. Letely I have a new place and bizz has never been better here.

SignManiac
10-19-2009, 06:29 PM
Curtis I'm very happy to hear things are going well for you!
I know you moved and started from ground zero. May your success continue.

grampa dan
10-19-2009, 07:19 PM
Running a successful business from your house is possible. We've had a home based business for the last 35 years.

Although we ran in an ordinary house at the start, we soon saw the need to custom build to accomodate our business. The first places were studios built onto the houses with entrances separate from the house. Customers were always welcome and were impressed with our office when they came. The workshop was in the garage and basement. The customer didn't need to go there.

A little more than six years ago we bought a small acreage with the intent of building a separate building to house the shop/studio/office. It is 3100 square feet. The building is designed to showcase our work, both inside and out. Our website has a bunch more pictures for those interested.

http://www.signs101.com/photopost/uploads/12709/shop_picture.jpg

Being home based does not have to be second rate or a compromise. Our shop is a building that we would be hard pressed to build in an industrial area. It has worked out fabulously and we wouldn't do it any other way. Our kids grew up with me around on a daily basis and now our grand daughter has the same bonus.

-grampa dan

Zambookajoe
10-19-2009, 07:39 PM
I used to rent a shop bout 5 years ago and bought a house with a small store front and I thought I would of lost business but Ive gained 20 to 25% as long as it looks professionnal and clean your customers are gonna come back. The only bad thing for me is customers who dont respest my privacy, stupid requests after hours and sunday mornings knock at your door.

If money wouldnt be a problem Id rent or buy a shop. I like my privacy and when Im closed dont bother me


thats my opinion on my setup

signrios
10-19-2009, 07:50 PM
i've a small building next to my house, so far its is working out good for me, sometimes i wish i had more exposure to compensate for the slow times like this,
but i feel grateful because i can walk to school to pick up my kids.

i had a retail space and of course i was away from it most of the time doing installs or other things, i'm a one man show and i would like to keep it that way,
i only get help when i get overloaded with work.


i always tell my customers to call before coming to my house because i'm in out.
i hate been bothered when having lunch and a customer comes in unanounced!!!


Dan thats a great website, a whole different level of skills!!

Techman
10-19-2009, 08:12 PM
Curtis I'm very happy to hear things are going well for you!
I know you moved and started from ground zero. May your success continue.

Thank you my friend. This from you means something...

FrankenSigns.biz
10-19-2009, 08:36 PM
Dang, Grandpa! That's incredible. I have seen you in SignCraft. Your work is second-to-none. How wonderful it must be to have your talent and the ability to do what you love for a living. That is something that most people fail to ever realize for themselves. You are truly blessed, there is no doubt about that.

jjones1
10-19-2009, 09:28 PM
I have a detached garage that I have added on to. Been working the sign and screen printing out of it for about 5 years. I would like to go retail space but I have an awesome day job with a small slice of their pie.

ericmitchell29
10-19-2009, 09:54 PM
I work out of my garage and I am in the process of adding on a office/store front to it. I actually keep my roland 54'' printer in my house so that I dont have to keep my garage heated all the time.
Works good but I have two busy roads that are a mile on either side of me in which I am going to be putting up the state signs in order to get more business... I feel if I'm doing that... I probably should have a place customers can feel good coming to and doing business. Even though my house is nice... people I think generally don't feel right about strolling onto someone's property unless you have it clearly labeled as a business.

That was one big run on sentence I know... goodnight haha.

WOODBS
10-19-2009, 10:37 PM
I have been working out of my detached garage since start of business. It works out pretty well, not many walk in customers, I always meet the client. Next step is building an enclosed install bay..

Mosh
10-19-2009, 11:23 PM
I have been in the biz since 1988 and always had a commercial office. The first plus of having a commercial shop is you can "go home" and leave work. The second is there have been 20-30 people in my area buy a "sticker cutting machine" and try to run a sign shop out of their house. One big thing for customers is going into a showroom, and seeing a sign shop, or going to some garage and seeing some guys garage. Not trying to cut down the home shops, just telling from my dealings with customers. Kinda like getting a computer at Best Buy or at "Fred's Computer Shop".

SurfaceSigns
10-20-2009, 04:59 AM
I think it really depends on your business model as to whether or not commercial space is required. The nature of the sign business does allow for this to be a lucrative home based business.

Over the years I have leased space, but with the high cost of property ownership in my area (Vancouver has the highest real estate prices in Canada), I decided I was better off investing in a larger home than paying a smaller mortgage on a condo AND leasing commercial space. I'd personally rather pay myself than someone else. I run the sign business out of my basement, with additional work area in the garage if needed - for a total of about 1500 sqft of work space.

The savings from working out of your home can be substantial. Aside for the savings on monthly rent, you also save on phones, internet, utilities, vehicle mileage, fuel, insurance, and so on. I figure in total I save about $50,000 per year - that's a lot of signage work I don't have to go looking for.

Running the business from home is also a life choice. You are probably not going to be a multi-million dollar business running from home, but you can make a very decent living while reducing your hours worked, and your commute is only 15 steps.

Many guys will say that your a bottom feeder for running out of your home, but I think that's a bit of stereotyping at work. First of all, just because you work from home doesn't mean you have to undercut the competition. Why leave all that money on the table? Price yourself competitively and provide a decent product, and the rest takes care of itself. Secondly, contrary to the belief that we all run cheap chinese plotters that we picked up on eBay, many of us running from home have a substantial investment in equipment.

For me, it was the best move.

Farmboy
10-20-2009, 07:05 AM
I know I posted here afew days ago that some days I wish I was back home in my basement...Not really. Never again! Beside the fact that all the presses, plotters, printers and misc. crap would never fit...I just don't want to have my work at home again. People would call or stop by when ever because they knew you were there. Meals, family time and weekends would sometimes be interrupted by customers that just had a question or wondered if their stuff was done. Last straw was a knock on the door at 8am one sat. by some jughead that needed to have his car lettered for a race later in the day. There's more, I'm not done yet. The smells. Depending on what kinda work you do, do you want those smells in you house? I made the mistake of printing election signs in my basement. House smelled for a week. There are probably all kinds of smells you've gotten used to and don't even notice at work. Trust me when I say everyone else will notice when they come home at the end of the day when your working in your home. Never again.

signrios
10-20-2009, 10:11 AM
First of all, just because you work from home doesn't mean you have to undercut the competition. Why leave all that money on the table?

Amen!! i sometimes get beaten on my pricing by sign shops with a retail outlet, paying overhead.

Just Another Sign Guy
10-20-2009, 12:19 PM
We're DESTROYING our competition because we don't have to cover the extra $4,000 in rent (in Hawaii.) ..and other costs associated with renting or owning a building (there are tons.)


are you for real? everything you have posted has had some reference to your success as a business man...but i've got to shake my head in disbelief after this.

you are saying that you are able to DESTROY your competiton because your overhead is less and because of that your pricing is less... correct?

there isn't a damn thing wrong with working from home, i agree there. it can be wonderful and i know MANY highly profitable businesses that are entirely home based.

BUT WHY in the world would you cut your final selling prices because of this? you are leaving money on the table. additionally you are devaluing your products and services in your market. what are you going to do if/when you move into a building? increase your prices obviously, how are you going to explain that to your client base? they don't care about the reason....this is absolutely the most common BIGGEST mistake noobies make. But for someone of your 'caliber' in the successful business world (i mean you said you are writing or have written a guide on how to be successful in teh sign business) if this is what you have to offer...no thank you i will pass. Why? because your business model is EXTREMELY flawed and you need to re evaluate it immediately.

why am i so passionate about this? because people like you jump into a trade you know nothing about and do flat out "STOOPID" (and yes i spelled it wrong on purpose because it is that STUPID) things like this. You devalue what many of us have done for decades and while you are making rookie mistakes the damage you leave behind in your market after you are gone is irreversible.

but here i am taking the 'making of stickers' seriously....forgive me.

i have seen literally hundreds of new sign shop owners take their profits that they have earned through years of hard work in other industries and done exactly what you are doing...my advice pack your bags because you won't be able to live in paradise much longer doing what you are doing.

:banghead: :frustrated: :noway: :doh: :banghead:

Jillbeans
10-20-2009, 12:54 PM
How do I handle walk-in sales?
I have a little office/showroom (ha! It's microscopic)
with actual signs hanging.
I also have a portfolio to flip thru.
I have business hours posted on a sign out front.
And I also have an open/closed sign.
I keep bizcards by the door in case I am out.
And I also have a website, which has been great.
Love...Jill
PS
I wish Grandpa Dan would reduce the size of his pic so I don't have to scroll.
PSS
I agree 100% with Dan Striker.

rambo555
10-20-2009, 01:11 PM
I work from a home shop. My business is actually only run after my full time job. The only issue I have with working from home office is space and how you deal with customers visiting your shop. I rarely have visitors come to the shop. When I do, I make sure that everything is in tip top shape. It can ruin an afternoon if your havign a "messy" day and then someone wants to stop in. If you can deal with that, then I say go for it!

Techman
10-20-2009, 01:30 PM
Sign shops shouldn't compete with each other. We should all charge the most we can and add on plus install. We all help each other by charging the right amount.

The only real competition is the "other" things that overlap into the sign world. That is where we lose value. Let them compete with each other. Let them be cheapo.

houseofgrafix
10-20-2009, 02:05 PM
Me and my wife have been reading everything!

Thanks for all of the info..

Keep them coming too if you have more info

Rooster
10-20-2009, 02:17 PM
Curtis I'm very happy to hear things are going well for you!
I know you moved and started from ground zero. May your success continue.

Geez I'm glad techman replied to you. My name is Curtis too and I was completely lost trying to figure out who this maniac in Florida was and how he knew my name and that things were going well after my move.

Biker Scout
10-20-2009, 03:07 PM
Just because you're home based, doesn't mean you have to run a flight-by-night operation too. You still need to run your books as if you had overhead, and were planning on expansion and growth. That's the only way you can stay ahead and know what your true margins are. Also, putting money aside for end of the year taxes and sales tax out of each job. Putting money aside for equipment repairs or purchases. Putting money aside for paying yourself. All that stuff seems to be forgotten by most home based sign guys. They think that 85% of the gross is theirs, and are living the American Dream.

Even if you want to fly under Uncle Sam's Radar, if you do things right throughout the year, at least by year's end you will be sitting on a nice chunk of change. Then you can decide just how legit you want to be. :cool:

B Snyder
10-20-2009, 03:28 PM
I've had a shop for over 10 years. My daughter, who just turned 3 in September, went to daycare ($1,050/mo) until about 5 months ago. My twin boys were born in May and we made the decision that when my wife returned to work I'd stay at home with the kids during the day and just go into the shop at night and on Saturdays when necessary. We weren't willing to spend $30k/yr on daycare. My wife's benefit package is worth over $20k/yr and she has 15 years into her pension, plus she loves her job so there was no way she was going to give that up. My business phone is now forwarded to my house or cell during the day. I'm in my fourth week of this new schedule and it's not easy but it's working out. Answering the phone, talking to clients and taking orders is easy. Keeping a 3 year old and two 5 month olds happy is the hard part. Business hasn't suffered at all, I've actually had an increase in orders lately. I'm working more efficiently because when I get to the shop at night I don't have phone calls or solicitors coming in to interrupt me. I'm fortunate that 99% of my work is repeat business and referrals. I dont advertise and you wouldn't find my shop without really good directions anyway. The shop next to mine helps by taking all my deliveries. If you can work out an arrangement like mine it might work for you. Even if I had the space and a large garage I wouldn't want clients coming to my home and I wouldn't get much done when my focus is on the 3 kids anyway.

OldPaint
10-20-2009, 04:07 PM
i was HOME BASED, in sarasota from 86-98, moved here and set up a STOREFRONT. that lasted 22 months.
i spent $10,000.00 in rent alone, for that time and decided to build on our property, a shop TO MY LIKING.
for $8500.00 i got the basic building, and another $5-8000.00, i got convrete, doors, insulation. best thing i ever did.
i WORK WHEN I WANT TO..........people come here and get work done, and like the "homey" feel. if i want to work between 1 AM- & 4 AM...........i can, if i want to sleep till NOON, i can.

Day Sign Co
10-20-2009, 05:39 PM
I enjoy working from the shop I built out back,customers don't enter the main residence.
The shop size has some limitations as to the more sizable and interesting metal fabricated signs that were once done in house.
Including rent,there was also UL inspectors,fire marshals,spray booths,customers walking in wanting little cheap signs and more to worry about.
Now days,I don't even own an alarm clock.