In the Midwest we are experiencing a work explosion. Suddenly everything is coming up remodeling! Just this week alone I had four contracts for major remodeling projects, two of which were six-figure remodels. We also signed a nice bath renovation, along with the many design/build projects currently in progress. Wow, the difference a year makes. Now what?

Many companies have been operating with a skeleton crew for several years. The recession was tough and weeded out many competitors. Demand has increased, with not as many companies out there to fill that demand. Due to the slim workload of the last several years, people have grown accustomed to an immediate response to their every desire. The pressure’s on.

It’s a tough decision for many company owners: “Do I hire? Do I expand?”

Are you experiencing growing pains? If there are never enough hours in the day, if your gross revenue keeps increasing but your profit line does not, and if everything is a fire and the company's right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, then I’d say welcome to growing pains.

Pain is a tough spot to be in. It’s hard to know when to expand. Hiring additional staff is always risky, but clamping down and not hiring can be deadly. People get tired and people get frustrated. When your team or your clients sense a lack of organization and internal confusion within your company, they get upset and your bottom line suffers. Low-risk remedies to expand your workforce:

  • Look for skilled, retired people who only want part-time work and are not worried about a lay-off.
  • Seek out independent, skilled contractors willing to subcontract as project managers.
  • During the summer months, hire young people working their way through college.
  • Expand your subcontractor base through vendor referrals. (For example: your plumbing supply stores know who the good plumbers are.)

Stay positive  this could be 2008!  —Kathy Shertzer is office manager at DuKate Fine Remodeling, in Franklin, Ind.