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Anyone gone from one man operation to multiple employee? Any Advice?

I've been a one man operation pretty much for 10yrs, and I always thought I'd stay that way but after a few recent events I'm coming round the the idea of building the whole thing up a couple of notches, but I wonder if anyone could give me any advice?

I'd always want to keep the workshop that I have in the music store (the store isn't mine) - it has great footfall as well as being fun, but it has limited size and eventually (in 5 -10years) I'd like to have a couple guys working with me in a larger workshop off site, so I can take time off occasionally without worry.

Any general advice such as, employ skilled people that dont need too much training, or go for younger people who you can mold?
Do you give people specific jobs or train everyone to do everything?
On the financial side, if i had experienced people I'd prefer them to be self employed and I'd pay them piece rate - so they would sort their own tax etc out. The benefit is that they can earn as much as they want - the more they do the more they make - without any overheads or hassle.
I'd like to get as many contracts from distributors here in the UK to take care of their warranty issues as well as having my own small 'boutique-y' brand of electric and acoustics.
It seems to me that there are quite a few guys doing this in the states, and probably the only reason is its far less common here is because we often prefer to do things in a smaller way, or have a "don't get idea's above your station" mentality.

Anyone with any advice - greatly appreciated, and appologies if this isn't the kind of thing the forum is for - please feel free to delete.

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hey steve;
my two cents......
i personally feel that if everyone is trained to do only one or two things and pass it on to the next guy to do his one or two things there is a serious lack of "pride" or "ownership" in the work that is done. the attitude seems to be if something isn't up to par, the next guy can catch it. that is why mass produced instruments ALWAYS pale in comparison to anything produced by a competent luthier. consistently and without fail. now if someone works on the project all the way thru from start to finish, there should be a greater sense of "pride/ownership" in the work. personally, anything that i wouldn't be proud to put my name on doesn't get anywhere near the door, let alone out of it. and i work slowly and patiently to make it right. every time work i am proud of goes out the door, (which is every time) i get a tremendous feeling from making someone fall in love with their guitar again, which is what it is all about isn't it?
in closing,
1. Patience is the key to everything. the moment you start to rush, kiss quality goodbye.
2. There is no shame in turning down work if it is above your skill set. Recommend someone qualified and make a friend instead of mangling their baby. There are already lots of butchers out there, we don't need any more.
3. Bolting together a bunch of pre-made parts doesn't make you a luthier any more than sticking feathers up your butt makes you a chicken.
sorry for ranting,
mike
Steve,
Its nice to see something related to the business side of repair. I have had an employee for one year this month.
I thought about commission based pay but went with an hourly wage instead. With Quickbooks taking care of taxes has not been bad.
Workers comp. was expensive and I had to pay the first year in one payment.
I was hoping to be able take time off with an employee but that has not panned out yet.
I chose to hire a very good musician with no training but great people skills.
After one year with an employee I am comfortable with his setup work and I can mill frets and hand it off for crowning and polish + setup but that is as far as it goes. I chose an hourly wage because there are lots of non repair related things that can be done in the shop.
Fleck
Steve: I'd have more to say than I could put in an email. Give me a call sometime (better yet, email me and we'll exchange phone numbers and arrange a time to talk — I could tell you all I have to offer in about 15 minutes I think). You have good questions, and I probably think you SHOULD get some help in the shop — that means a lot of stuff. FRANK FORD has TONS of experience with needing/hiring/working with others in his shop.
Dan
Hi Dan,
I've emailed you - thats a fantastic offer of help - that'd be grand!

Fleck,
thats great advice - i think the hourly rate would be the only realistic route, I might well contact you soon to find out more if thats ok?

mike,
i dont think i made my point very well, i'm not about slapping together pre made parts, i'm talking about expanding a decent repair facilty and hopefully making a small name for myself in some custom builds....until i achieve any of that its all just smoke though i guess! thanks for the input, appreciate it,
cheers

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