Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?
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  1. #1
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    May 2007
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    Washington
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    Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Well I know mobile welding discussions have been beat to death already but oooooh well. Just asking for any general tips that you guys have for me since I am starting my own mobile welding business within the next couple months. I have been planning this for the past 3 years. I bought a Miller welder/generator and 2 wirefeeders 3 years ago and planned a business but sold it all. But now I am ready to hit it with all i've got. I have my structural and sheet steel welding certifications in several processes and will be getting my pipe and aluminum certs in about a month when the place I get my certs opens back up from their summer break. I will be applying for a specialty contractor's license shortly. I am picking up a Lincoln Ranger welder/generator on thursday and already have a wirefeeder and high frequency box in case the job calls for a process that isn't suitable for stick (aluminum for example).

    I am currently working full time for another employer and will be doing this after work and on weekends until I build a customer base up and feel comfortable doing my own business full time. It may be a month, may be several years. But I have a wife and kid and don't want to jump into it and go broke the first month.

    So to the guys on the board who run mobile businesses if you have any tips that can only be learned from actual experience, i'd love to hear them. David R, I know you have some comments!

    I never walk away from a bad weld and I hope good customer relations and quality work gets me ahead in the market so wish me luck!

  2. #2
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    May 2007
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    SoCal
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    4,335

    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    My last instructor has much experience with owning and running his own business, still in business and still teaching. Pay your taxes, the board of equalization ALWAYS gets their cut off the top, he puts their money into a seperate account and forgets it until they come. Contractors license, business license, insurance, bonding(?). Start up with a business plan and always keep records of everything.


    Secure your gear well, I hate thieves.
    City of L.A. Structural; Manual & Semi-Automatic;
    "Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore."
    Job 28:1,2

    Lincoln, Miller, Victor & NKJV Bible

    Danny

  3. #3
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    Jul 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod MA
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    1,082

    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Do what you say...
    If you cant get to a project for a few weeks, tell the customer that. Its better than them being pi$$ed off that you haven't gotten it done yet. They will understand if you tell them upfront and then have it done when you say you will.

    And don't try to do everything... Do what you can handle and build on that.

    Buy good tools and they wont let you down

    Good Luck

  4. #4
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    Nov 2005
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    tn
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    974

    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Im do a similair thing; however, Im mobile mostly as in going to other folks shops. Most of my business is brought to me unless like I said I go to other shops.

    I too work a full time job, but over the past couple of years my welding business has grown somewhat and now am making some HUMBLE $$

    I took the slow slow gradual approach without spending too much money. Actually I've spent most this year on certs than equiptment. You dont need a cadilac for a Sunday drive.

    So just my two cents here..... keep the reg job if you can and be patient.

    Im kind of lucky cause I do some welding work for my reg job too.

    Anyway good luck !!!


    Ps. nothing better than putting money in the bank and forgetting about it.
    Last edited by lewray; 08-07-2007 at 11:12 PM.
    weld it like you own it

  5. #5
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    May 2007
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    Washington
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by lewray
    Im kind of lucky cause I do some welding work for my reg job too.
    That's ALL I do on my regular job. All structural welding. Which is nice because I learn new stuff all the time about different ways to approach different welding situations so it will be good for me in the long run. Plus, I really like my employer and I want to keep with them for as long as I can. I don't want to burn any bridges. So i'll keep with them for as long as possible. My friend is getting his general contractor's license and I may have some work lined up with him once he gets that going in the next year.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2007
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    West By Golly Shelby NY
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    OK, I waited a little for this one. You have seen all the "taxes, Zoning Insurance.... things. Start out with one job. Do your best. If you are not happy with a weld grind it off and do it over. If it doesn't meet your tolerances, cut it off and do it again. Then do another job. And another one. After a while I was doing so many side jobs that I could do it on my own. Its just side jobs all day long.

    I read about your out of work thing. Sorry to hear it. You WILL survive. Just don't make things worse. Working for your self or some one else, follow doctors orders. If you can lift only X lbs at your day job, then same for night job.

    Good luck. Its a great feeling to make it on your own. I can't get laid off unless I Tick off a whole bunch of people all at once.

    David
    Real world weldin.

    When I grow up I want to be a tig weldor.

  7. #7
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    Washington
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    I've already planned to do only quality work. That is real important to me. I take a lot of pride in my work. So hopefully word spreads fast.

  8. #8
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    Nashville, TN
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Have a plan where you want to be 1,5 and 10 yrs down the road. Hopefully, you plan is to build a business not just make money. Doing what you do wisely will net you profit, however having helpers make you more money.

    Schedule family time. Hours can be long. You can always make more money but never make more time. "so know when to say when".

  9. #9
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    BULVERDE, TX.
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    You can try to schedule time, but don't be surprised if you hardly ever keep on schedule. Murphy's Law rules at all times. Be prepared for 60 hr weeks at a minimum. That 8 hr a day crap is not for the self employed....that is how employers keep costs down. We usually run around 10-12 hr days, 6 days a week when we are working.

  10. #10
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    DDA52, I know all about that. I ran a company for about 5 years. It was a software and graphics design company. I was putting in every second of my time awake to that company. I ended up hiring 3 employees + my dad to help get products developed and shipped on time. My parents also owned a business before as well so I am familiar with the hours that need to be put in.

    The more hours the better. I am more worried about not putting in enough hours than putting in too many hours in. If I get to the point where I have 100hrs of work a week lined up I can always lease another truck and hire another hand employee to go out on jobs. But that is a lot more work too handling payroll and everything and that is more bills for another truck, insurance on employees, equipment for the other vehicle etc...

    I'll just have to plan out what I want and know that things will happen the way they happen and I will have to be prepared to handle the situation when it arises.

  11. #11
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    Sep 2005
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    middle tennessee
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Bidding jobs is always my problem. Make sure you charge accordingly.
    Dewayne
    Dixieland Welding

    MM350P
    Lincoln 100
    Some torches
    Other misc. tools

  12. #12
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    First off, I would never plan on 100 hrs. I have had several end up that way, but to plan it that way is going to kill ya. I am in fairly bad shape from all my youthful excesses in the work dept. Burn yourself out and you will regret it later. Pace yourself and remember to take time off. That is something I never did. I can still pull long hours, but it takes a lot longer to bounce back now.


    Something I was told many moons ago has really turned out to be true. When you start out, plan on running at least three years in or near the red before your books turn all black. Having been in business for myself since '85 in one form or another, I have seen quite a few economic downturns. Most I have been able to ride out, some I couldn't. No real way to plan for them other than save, save and save. Something I am not really able to do much still.

    Be willing to do crap work for big companies...that is a good way to get the good stuff. I did the hard stuff and little stuff for this one company until they got to know me....now I am doing more of his work than anyone else is. Last month, the work total was more than I did all last year for him. This month will be almost the same.

    Do what you say you will, even if it means taking a loss. It happens. Don't let customers push you around pricewise. State the price and hold your line. Once you give in the first time, that customer will always try it...it gets really old fast. And put absolutely EVERYTHING in writing. Word of mouth just doesn't cut it anymore. I have two customers that will do large jobs on a word and they are trustworthy...the others get paper. It protects them and you.

  13. #13
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    I wasn't planning on 100hrs, but I have been doing thinking about what approach I would take if it got to that point.

    I plan on doing everything in writing. I even planned on taking pictures of the work before and after as documentation in case I ever needed it in court for any reason if they claimed the work wasn't done, or done to spec. (I know, it's bad to think that I would ever need to do that, but you never know). Not sure if I will ACTUALLY do that, but these are all thoughts that have come to mind.

  14. #14
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    Jul 2007
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    Indiana
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Welderboy,
    pictures aren't a bad idea (the reasons you mentioned should be kept to yourself) the reason for pictures are to advertise your ablity -show past project to potential customers -build a portfolio (and as long as you take adequate pictures you'll still have the other type of record that you mentioned) JMHO
    Martin
    MC Weld Tech
    AWS-CWI
    AWS-CWE
    www.linkedin.com/pub/martin-cramer/20/b36/940/

  15. #15
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by DDA52
    That 8 hr a day crap is not for the self employed....that is how employers keep costs down.

    Not true. 8 hour work day was created to regulate the amount employer require hourly wage emplyees to work.

    Pace yourself and remember to take time off.
    Perhaps, I should have stated it like that. Man-- kids keep growing and wives have needs and your body and mind have needs. So how you schedule your time is your choice.

  16. #16
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder
    Not true. 8 hour work day was created to regulate the amount employer require hourly wage emplyees to work. .

    That may be how it started out intentionwise, but it is not law. I have had plenty of jobs that required 12 hr days or 10 hr days with a 5-6 day work week. Now, companies do not want to pay the mandatory overtime, they really don't want to pay for anything , so they limit hours to keep costs down. It is a union thing maybe that everyone took up, I don't know or care in reality. That really wasn't my point.

    My point was don't stop just because 8 hrs rolled by. I have seen plenty of guys start working for themselves coming out of a regulated 40hr work week enviroment. 8 hrs rolls by and they drag up. The builders and customers don't like that lots of time. They are on schedules and want stuff done fast as possible. Leave early in a crunch and you will get a reputation, and it won't be a good one. I have seen and heard of it many, many times. Now there are times you do have to work regulated hours, but that type of condition isn't what I am talking about. I hate that enviroment anymore and try not to work in that situation. But, it does happen. I prefer to set my own hours. Time is money. If I can get off of a job by working a few hours more per day and leave a day early or more, that is that much faster I can get to the next in line. That was all I meant.

    All of my people are subcontractors anyway. I set the basic guidelines and they get it done as they see fit. Works better for all. I don't have to keep them busy and pay them set wages when I really can't, like right now. I use them when I need them. I don't have to worry about hours, overtime, and stuff like that. For me, that is the absolute best arrangement.

  17. #17
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    May 2007
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    Washington
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    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    I am used to working long hours. I was doing commercial construction for the past several years building power plants, refineries, processing plants, factories, hospitals, waste treatment facilities, hospitals etc etc etc... I am used to meeting deadlines and putting in 75 hour workweeks if necessary. In fact, last job I was on before I was hired at the shipyard we were working 7 12's. Wet welding 20' under a river. That was a pita. But anyways, point I am getting at is I am used to it. It's all part of making a living and making the customer happy.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    24

    Re: Starting my mobile welding business real soon...tips?

    From the sounds of things, your ability is there, just not your own company yet.

    It also sounds like there's enough work to go around. Do you know any of the other welding guys in the area. Might be a good idea to get a report going with them to some small extent.

    If you are worried at all about too many hours, it would be better off to give a reference then to hire an unknown. Also, that way, in the slow time for you , you can network around and see if any of the other guys are overbooked.

    That's only if there's enough workj to go around - obviously.

    Right off, you're going to want everyjob you can get - but just be real cautious of the hidden stuff that will make the job much more difficult then it first may appear (thus the skill of quoting) - but you may need to be real careful at first. I don't know how this might apply to welding, but with farm work I do, there is always something to fix before getting to the real job - or the pasture that needs shredding is full of stumps, logs, and holes even though "...it was a beautiful pasture last fall..." yeah.

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