Help Starting a Work at Home
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In the following I will tell you what I can offer and what it will cost you. I will also tell you what I think it will save you in terms of money, time, sweat, and even tears.
Starting a business from scratch was tough in 1985 when I started Virginia Decking. Today, it is even tougher... especially given the complex tax and contract laws, ever increasing tendency for some homeowners to try to "get something for nothing", increasing government interference with businesses, and more and more jack leg carpenters working out of the back of their pickups who chew tobacco, wear suspenders and try to pass themselves off as professional deck builders but have no professional training or support.
The Basic Plan
I know the applicable tax laws and how to legally and ethically use them to save a great deal of money. I have paid the corporate lawyers a lot of money to help me carefully word the contracts (with clients, salesmen, marketers, secretaries, other contractors, etc.) so these contracts are fair to both parties... but they protect us against fraud, breach of contract, misconduct, and a variety of problems that can potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars! I know. I once lost $22,500 from one oversight alone! But I also found a way to turn that $22,500 loss into an asset that grows at the rate of $4000 every year through a little work, and a sound knowledge of business law. What is this knowledge worth? Over time perhaps tens of thousands of dollars of savings.
Don't get me wrong. I am not the expert. I hire experts. I read experts. I research and study and ask and read and probe and bug people until I know what works and what doesn't. And I can pass this information and help on to you.
In this "information age" of computers, faxes, email and CAD (Computer Assisted Design), I can advise you on what you will need to become as "wired" as you will need to be to conduct business efficiently and cost effectively. I can guide you to what software I think is best (and least expensive) to keep your books yourself (it's really not hard if you have the right software and just a little help), design decks, porches and gazebos for both your clients and your carpenters... all on your computer from the comfort of your own home. I can guide you to the right software to do a little "desktop publishing" of your own to publish flyers, design your own business cards, print up mailing labels if you choose to do some direct mailings, even publish your own web site! I can help you generate leads, leads, and more leads. I have done all of these things above plus a lot more, and I can provide you with the knowledge and guidance and support to help you maximize your efforts and time... and hopefully keep you from tripping over common mistakes and falling flat on your face like I have done. How much is this worth to you to buy the right equipment and invest in the right software (the first time not the second or third time like I've had to do)? I can't begin to estimate how many hundreds and thousands of dollars I have wasted because I bought something I thought would be useful but it wasn't. But I kept it in hopes I could eventually use it! What will this information save you? $5,000? $10,000? More?
I can provide you with the color pictures, preliminary deck-porch-gazebo designs to show clients, tons of various contracts, flyers, brochures, forms, ad copies that work, "do's and don'ts" in construction, even actual Building Plans for standard designs that I have and for custom designs that you will do. I will also mail you my 64 page "Manual to Help You Start a Thriving and Honorable Deck Company" which will be explained shortly. But make no mistake... providing you with all of this expertise, support, and help will cost you. (That's the good part. We'll get to that later.)
And here is something to think about: If you take my advice and invest in the software and hardware I think is best and least expensive for our needs, and you need some help with reconciling a bank statement for example... you can email it to me and I'll have my accountant reconcile it for you. Think about it. He's the genius who set up my own bookkeeping system electronically to pay bills effortlessly (without checks, via the modem - it's called electronic bill paying and it's cheap, fast, safe and even fun), maintain simply outstanding records for tax purposes, and help keep me knowledgeable of where I stand financially. He is the one who reconciles my bank statements monthly (something I still hate to do myself), and he can do it for you (for a very reasonable price) monthly -- or just when you get stuck. What is that worth to you? But this is an optional service. You can handle your own books if you prefer.
Or suppose you invest in the right CAD software (which, naturally, is compatible with my own). You design a beautiful deck for a client of yours, but need some help in knowing exactly where to locate the footings, how big to make them, what size to make the joists to exceed code requirements, yet not bankrupt yourself in buying materials. You email me your CAD file and I have my own Draftsman (Draftsperson to be politically correct) draw up the plans and email it back to where ever you are. And it won't cost you what an Architect or professional Draftsman would charge either. (Actual costs are spelled out below) But it will be right and it will be fast. And both she and I can help answer questions about how to use the program to do what you want it to do. It's called tech support, and we can provide what the manufacturer can't: Deck-Porch-Gazebo specific technical support. How much is that worth? Again, this is an optional service. Many deck companies do their own.
Or maybe you want to design a page for your web site, or for a printed flyer you will be distributing, and need a quick answer to a problem. We can help. If you are using the program I recommend, you can even email me the file you're working on and I can see for myself on my own computer what you are doing, tweak it here and there, and email it back. All for free? Well, maybe. Sometimes. If it gets extensive, it'll cost you. Much? No. I'm not greedy. I just need to make a living. And I love to help folks, so I keep my charges low. I guess I'm a teacher at heart. (Actual costs are spelled out below)
Do I have all the answers? Wish I did. But I've got a few of them. And I know a lot about where to go to find the answers. After all, isn't that what true education and knowledge is really all about? Knowing where to find the answers and how to find and implement the solutions. And, besides, sweating through a tough problem on your own is hard. It's so much easier when you know you've got a friend and partner in the same business who perhaps has already gone through something similar and can offer a suggestion that just might crack open the solution to that problem.
So, how much will it cost? $4000 up front
on your VISA or MC (or personal check) for the Basic Plan.
(That didn't hurt too badly, now did it?) This will purchase the following
materials and 64 page "Manual to Help You Start a Thriving and Honorable
Some of this material will come electronically from my computer to yours via email. Typically that means we email you such things as flyers, forms, contracts, newspaper ads, yellow page ads, etc. If needed, I will teach you how to convert those documents from emails into documents that you can re-word on your own computer for your own use. We live in the electronic age, my friend. The faster you learn how to use a computer, the better off your company will be. And I will be there to help you. I will also postal mail you hard copy photographs of decks, porches, gazebos and the 64 page "Manual to Help You Start a Thriving and Honorable Deck Company" which also contains hard copies of the above mentioned flyers, forms, contracts, newspaper ads, yellow page ads, etc. Availability of all these materials? We will begin mailing and emailing you immediately upon our receipt of $4000 (VISA, MC or personal check clearing). Information on how to order is at the bottom of this page.
"Why only $4000", you ask? Simple: I enjoy teaching, training, and helping people succeed. I do it with my children. I do it in church. I do it at work. I just enjoy teaching.
How much will the accountant charge? He's pretty reasonable. In fact, I think he should raise his rates. (But not for me, Sam. Not for me.) To reconcile a check book's monthly statement and insure your expenses are properly categorized so you receive all of the tax deductions permitted by law? $200. "Is that all!?" you say? Well, we could charge more if you'd like. But don't forget, this is a totally optional service.
How much to do a typical set of Building Plans from your
emailed Preliminary Plan file? Preliminary and Building Plans together
start at $800 as published on my
web site for homeowners and builders. And homeowners are happy to
pay it because it's a tremendous deal to get our structural Design and Build
expertise and years of experience narrowly defined into decks, screen porches
and gazebos and yet pay that little for it. Why would I charge you less?
And both your Preliminary Plans for your clients as well as your Building Plans for obtaining Permits and for your crews to build from will be light years ahead of your competitors. Why? Because you have joined the ranks of the professionals. Your plans are CAD (Computer Assisted Design) and printed (not hand drawn). They will be sharp, clear and precise. Again, this is a completely optional service you may or may not want.
1) Repeat business. You will likely keep coming back when you see what we can do for you and your clients.
2) You will provide me the information I need to work from after the first time because I will teach you what I need. So it will be easier for me the next time.
3) You will email me a file I can immediately bring up in my computer from which we will generate the Building Plans. It's fast and error free.
How much will we charge to answer a question on something? Typical nothing... unless you deluge me with questions. Then we'd have to charge you something for my time. How much if you email me a flyer file or web page file to help you with? Not much. Depends on time. $60 to $120 seems logical for a half hour to an hour and half of work. Where are you going to find this kind of context specific, deck-porch-gazebo business related consulting for $120/hr? My tax lawyer charges me $200/hr and, though he's mighty good, tax lawyers are far more prevalent than professional deck-porch-gazebo consultants!
Now all of the above applies to our Basic Plan and costs only $4000. But where there is a Basic Plan (you know what's coming, don't you) there is a Deluxe Plan. And when I explain it, I think you'll want it.
The Web Site Development
and Promotion Plan
A few years ago I was doing business the way everyone
else does it... the traditional way. I had Designers, a Secretary, and
Crews. I bought all the materials, went and got the Building Permits,
advertised in Yellow Pages, newspapers, and home shows (like to broke my father-in-law's
back lugging that deck display all over creation). I did door to door
canvassing, put out thousands of flyers, and put up signs in yards and along
the road (and made the Highway Department furious I'm sure). I did direct
mail and hired telemarketers. This is how it's done and this is how
I did it. And we did it very well. And I can help you with every
facet of the above methods. I know what works, what works well, and
what doesn't work at all. But about six or seven years ago I got a web
site. And I began to learn what folks would be interested in and began
to publish that type of information on the web. Now, several years later,
my wife spends maybe 30 minutes a day helping with filing and making deposits.
I have no Secretary. I have no Designers (except myself). My crews
no longer work for me. I work for them as a Designer/Salesman.
I handle no warranty claims. I do no construction scheduling.
I do no building. I buy no materials. Even when a
client wants to pay for a materials markup so they receive a "turnkey" job,
I still buy no materials. (Think about how many of your current
headaches would simply go away if you did not have to buy materials.)
I get no Building Permits. I no longer advertise in newspapers and I
haven't gone to home shows in about five years. I don't do door to door,
put out flyers, put up signs, do direct mail, or telemarket. Not that
any of those are wrong or bad. I have simply found a better way.
I still use Yellow Pages (which we use less and less) and we have a web site.
And I do 95% of my business via the web site, email, fax and phone.
My office is in my home and I go on the road maybe every other Thursday (my
day for "On-Site Design). Is it becoming clear? If you want to
streamline your marketing, lower your expenses drastically, appeal to thousands
of homeowners because you are truly "wired", and reduce your headaches...
you need a very, very well done web site and a little re-structuring from
the traditional methods of doing business. I can help. I can help
you do your web site so that it is similar to my own, but I can also do something
that web site designers won't do: I will teach you how to maintain,
change, update, re-design, and modify your own web site yourself, from your
own computer, anytime day or night, at no cost to you. How?
At a predetermined time you call me. You are at your computer and me
at mine. We both have the same programs on our screens. I will
"show" you how to make a web site like my own... because I will walk you step
by step through the process. (By the way, you will want to use a wireless
telephone headset for hands free use of your computer) Web site development
is really not that hard. And it is a lot of fun. Incidentally,
the software for this web site design, and for uploading your finished web
pages to your web host is free. Naturally, I will tell you where to
get it and how to use it when you sign up.
How much does my own web site cost to host annually? I have a 100 MB site (one time $40 fee), virtual email account, uploading capability so I can personally maintain my own site, a Log Analyzer to analyze site traffic, very fast T1 lines, and much, much more for $96 a year. One of my previous hosts wanted to charge me between $960 and $1440 a year for the same service. This alone will save you thousands of dollars over time. I can help you get hooked up to the same host. I will also link from my web site to yours and back again to increase your web site "traffic".
But just having a web site is not enough. You cannot just hope to "build it and they will come." If people don't know you're there, your web site is essentially invisible. Eighty percent (80%) of all web site traffic comes from people using search engines. Therefore, I will submit your web pages to the top 16 Search Engines myself. But I will do more than that: I will also share with you where to go and what to get in order for you to submit your web pages to over 500 search engines and directories yourself... as many times as you want... whenever you want.
But just having a killer web site, and just submitting to a bunch of the search engines and directories is not enough. If your web pages are not properly designed with the proper html code (title tags, meta tags, heading tags, description tags, etc.), your killer web pages may well rank somewhere around number 1357 instead of in the top 10 of the first page. Who will find you if they have to search through 5 or 10 pages of search results? Would you? Neither would I. Therefore, your web pages must be what we call "optimized" so that when search engines "spider" them, they will rank them high in search results for keywords and keyword phrases (those words we use to search with). Remember where you found my web page in the search engine results? It was no doubt within the top 30, and probably within the top 10 results. I can do that for you... and, more importantly, I can teach you how to do that yourself. How? With you at your computer and me at mine. You will have the same software on your computer that I have on mine. And, once again, I will walk you through the process of optimizing your pages so they will rank high on the search engine results. I will also do a lot of this "optimization" at the same time we are designing the pages together, explaining it as I go.
How much should this Web Site Development and Promotion Plan cost you? Some folks are charging $50,000. No, I am not kidding. $20,000? It's well worth it. That's cheap. Nope. It's $6000. That's it. The Deluxe Plan is just $10,000 total and includes the Basic Plan ($4000) plus the Web Site Development and Promotion Plan ($6000). What will you receive for this $6000? The Web Site Development and Promotion Plan will:
Hopefully this information will help you to decide if you would like to invest in either of these two unique services to help you establish a thriving and honorable deck-porch-gazebo construction home based business. If you are really interested, you will want to read my contract for this service. If you have any questions (and I'm sure you will), feel free to call, fax or email me. When you're ready to order, just call, fax or email me with your VISA or MC credit card information, email address, and postal mailing address and authorization to charge $4,000 for the Basic Plan, $6,000 for the Web Site Development and Promotion Plan, or $10,000 for the Deluxe Plan. Or you may mail me your personal check. Once I receive your credit card information or check, and a signed copy of the contract (faxed copies are legally acceptable... just follow it up with a hard copy in the mail), I will mail and email you all of the materials listed above. This includes the 64 page "Manual to Help You Start a Thriving and Honorable Deck Company" whose contents are described below:
(Sikkens Deck Finishing)
I've taken the time to do the research for you so you can explain to your clients about the very best deck staining and wood finishing technology available. When you make this type of information available to them, you establish huge credibility as "The Expert"... and your helpfulness will usually be rewarded. Study this material. It will help you clients. And that will help you.
Four pages of detailed explanations on how to use the following contracts (copies which are included in this manual):
How to price out jobs quickly (even over the phone) so that you make the RIGHT amount of money.
|To order the Basic Plan, please print out, sign and fax back my contract to 540 786-3324. Please include your VISA or MC information as well as your own contact information including day and night phone numbers, email, and postal mailing address. Or you may mail a check for $4000 to Virginia Decking & Remodeling at the address below.|
Teach a man how to fish... and you feed him for a lifetime."
|To order the Deluxe Plan, please print out, sign and fax back my contract to 540 786-3324. Please include your VISA or MC information as well as your own contact information including day and night phone numbers, email, and postal mailing address. Or you may mail a check for $10,000 to Virginia Decking & Remodeling LLC at the address below.|
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