Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pissing Off Your Set Crew for Dummies

I recently received this email from one of the set crew companies that serve the modular housing industry. There are quite a few set crews out there but what this person shared with me is happening to every one of them.

Pissing Off Your Set Crew

Being in the Modular set up business for many years, I find it frustrating that we continue to suffer from the same issues year after year and no matter how hard we work with Manufactures, Developers and Modular builders to be recognized and gain respect for what we do we continue to get pounded in 3 areas.


Premium Service
In order to give a premium service and remain a Professional company with high quality experienced employees and follow the OSHA safety mandates we need to charge accordingly and yet we are always pounded to give the cheapest price for the set when we are going up against a pickup truck carpenter who does not give a damn about his employees because of illegal cheap labor, safety details or undercutting the quality set company just so they can stay in business and in the end the only  parties effected is the set company for loss of work and the end consumer because they get stuck with a house that is set subpar, there needs to be an industry wide revamp of this attitude so the Great companies can continue to do great and the other pest companies can get lost already, I think we need a MSA (Modular set association). This could be under the MHBA umbrella.


No Warning
Without explanation, Builders will call and cancel set the last minute or they just simply forget to call and when I call them to confirm they are like “OH I'M SORRY, I FORGOT TO INFORM YOU”.  If we ran our schedule the way they do and cancel on our builders like that, they would jump ship quickly and move on to another set company, and when they want to reschedule a date they always insist that we accommodate them even if we are booked and then we end up losing not only the days they canceled but the set entirely which is so frustrating, I don’t know about other set companies but I know how hard we work on a daily bases to keep our schedule on track and to be there on the scheduled set date without ever having to cancel, I believe these behaviors are driven by lack of caring for their sub set crew or they blame the manufacture or transportation, Bank, REM program grant moneys, etc. I do understand  that sometimes these issue are true but that give ZERO excuse to canceling last minute without take responsibility and continued working together so the we can re-schedule the set back on our schedule  (RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER GOES A LONG WAY)

GREED
Let’s see how much we can get out of a set crew and not have to pay, for example, when we arrive on site and the sill plate is not installed, site is a mess and we need to prep it in order to do our job because the crane is on the way and we drove 3 hours and stayed in a motel just to be able to do the set and if we choose to walk away without covering the un finished work we get nailed with no compensation for our losses just because of Builder neglect. Also manufacturers sometimes screw up big time and we need to do whatever it takes on site to get the house dried in ASAP. Then when we try and get the manufactures service department to compensate us for the work they drag their feet and stall around as if we are guilty of trying to rip them off (should never have to do that to legitimate set company) and when the do finally agree it can take months of barking at them to get paid, the biggest frustration we have is “manufactures that collect set up fee on their invoices”. So why is it that when we get the sign off paperwork from the builder and send to the manufacturer that they cannot release the money within 7 days, after all that is not their money it’s the end consumers money to be used to pay for our work. More than a few manufacturers do this. They should hold those funds in escrow and when they receive our paper work, process it immediately. We have manufacturers that take as much as a month or more to release those funds , I suggest that they use other folks money as free bank money as part of their operating expenses and this crap needs to stop.
NOTE: Recently I had several house sets cancel by builders and after researching it I discovered that they could have left me know a long time ago and did not, now I am the one trying to dig up work next week for a crew of professional, very experienced guys. As a company we do not deserve this nor do my men who sacrifice a lot to be on the road working hard for our clients
Also, I know what I wrote seems like I am painting with an extremely wide brush and I don’t want to make it seem as if all Builders and Manufactures are this way because that is just not the case, we do however need consolidation in our industry for the Good Builders and Manufactures to swallow up all the subpar entities so the Modular Industry can provide the market with quality product and service, not just for the end consumers but also for the transport agencies, crane companies and of course to all the Premium set companies as well.

It’s time we start working together to root out theses problem once and for all for the betterment of our industry and I believe that this would have a direct effect on increasing our market share of the residential and commercial Modular industries across the Northeast and the Greater USA


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure which set crew company wrote this but I agree 110%. As an owner, these things have happened to me many times, especially the part about not getting my money from the factory. I've had to borrow from my family in the past just to make payroll until one factory finally paid me for 6 sets. They told me that they wait until the end of the month and add up all the sets I did for them and pay me within 10 days at the end of the month. I hate that but I still need them so I've learned to adjust.

I like the part about set crews needing to get organized.

Crane operators run into the some of the same problems but once a builder pisses them off they don't work for them anymore. I wish I could afford to do that.

Anonymous said...

As a sales rep with over 20 years of experience, I fully agree with the comments made. I pride myself on keeping on top of the set and have calls from Builders the night before the set saying that all is okay only to find out that the set had been cancelled by the builder that morning. I have gone to the sites several days ahead of the set and informed the Builder that the sill plates are not installed, other building materials are in the way of the set crew and crane, and the road to the set needed some work. I talked to the Builder about this and received assurances that all would be taken care of prior to arrival of the unit again, only to find out that nothing had been done. Then the units would arrive and I would find numerous discrepancies with the unit that the factory left for " the builder to repair" on site and then argued with the factory for the reimbursement of these funds. And they wonder why so many Builders have gone back to stick building!

Anonymous said...

Having worked in this industry for well over 25 years in both retail and wholesale, I can definitely see both sides of the story. There are so many builders out there that run by the seat of their pants the I ever wonder how they have stayed in business. Some of the horror stories you hear makes you wonder why people keep buying homes from them.

Then on the factory side, every factory is different in how they do things and so many times if the factory is having an issue with something they decide to put it off on the builder to do on-site. No wonder the set crews have a hard time figuring out from house to house what is required of them. In most cases the builder doesn't know, the factory rep doesn't know and the factory service department didn't know.

Then have some set crews that are very professional and try to do a good job versus the set crews that just slap it together so they can move onto the next job. I have said for years that you can take the best built home in the world and have it destroyed by a bad set crew in one day.

It is very difficult for a quality builder, who works with a quality factory and uses a quality set crew to compete with they guys that just want to do it half (you know what) to get the job done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Ultimately, the industry as a whole suffers, because it reflects on all of us as an industry!

Anonymous said...

As an ex-framer for site builders I have sympathy for any set crew experiencing this treatment from their "builders" the same as I did.

Fortunately, I learned the ins and outs of contract law, lien law, and the court system plus I quickly stopped working for those that either by ignorance or design cost me my $$.

Good luck sorting out the wheat from the shaft as it were and try to identify those builders and factories who support and pay fairly for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. As a set crew owner for over 25 years, sad that others are going through this but glad I am not the only one. Builders schedule well in advance and then cancel at last minute with some excuse but never call to reschedule. Find out another set crew did it. Have to beg certain factories to pay after 30 days even though they received the set fee before they even delivered the boxes. Happy when builders use the factory that sends check as soon as they receive set sheet. Other set crews that undercut my price by using "cheap" labor.

I pay a lot of money for insurance and workers comp only to lose out to others who pay under the table. Set crews trying to poach my builders. One thing to make your presence know to builders but another to constantly call them knowing who they have used for 20 years.

Luckily I made it through the building drop by the seat of my pants. Still isn't back but a lot better than it was. A lot of my financial problems were caused by a factory that isn't in business any longer. They paid what they felt, when they felt. Didn't matter what the estimate was. Then they never sent all the parts. Hindsight, wish I would have walked off their jobs but kept hoping they would keep their promises.

Scott Stone said...

As long as this industry continues to do business with "dealers" and others who do this on the side like tupperware, this is never going to change. I can say confidently that these things don't happen with our company. I PAY people to make sure the sites are prepared properly well in advance of having the set crew and all that goes along with it on the job site. We work hard to be the general contractor in order to control potential site problems and scheduling problems.
If we ever want to experience more than 3% of new construction we need to clean up our act. If we do we can drive down prices by being more efficient with a better quality product. Unfortunately this isn't going to happen with a bunch of part timers in our industry. Only the factories can control who they are willing to do business with and therefore control the level of sophistication that does or does not exist on the "builder" level. To many people, including folks within our industry, think that this is "just add water and it makes it's own sauce". Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of great builders who have the sites prepared properly, are on site and pay as soon as set is finished. I have a great customer base now and am able to turn down those who cut corners or try to get me down to a bare bones price.

Anonymous said...

Here's a couple reasons that a reputable manufacturer might be slow to pay the set crew the set hold-back:

1. Your insurance paperwork is not up-to-date in our files. I have first hand experience with this and you can't imagine how many times I could not get a set crew to send me their info- even while knowing this is holding up the payment. A manufacturer can do their best to try to make sure all this info is up-to-date, but if I were a set crew owner- you better believe I would call/email the accounting department for the manufacturer of every upcoming set to make sure my paperwork is not an issue.

2. The builder does not inform the manufacturer that the set has occurred and was completed to their satisfaction. There usually is a form that the builder has to fill in and return to the manufacturer. This form acts as a trigger for the set payment. If the manufacturers accounting department does not receive this- they don't know the payment needs to be made. If I were a set crew owner, I would ask the builder if they have done this before I leave the site- if it hasn't been done, ask if you can send it in for the builder. Many times, a builder has their hands full during and after the set, and this detail can get lost in the shuffle. If you do it yourself- you know it has been done. If the builder is holding back on this because he isn't satisfied- you'll know before you leave the site and can discuss whether the issue is on the set crew or a misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

No, there is one manufacturer in particular who will have all the proper paperwork (certificates of insurance, signed set sheet and invoice) and still will not send the check out until they are bugged. It is hard to get in touch with A/P and when you do they say "I don't know when the check will go out. I don't make that decision." There is another manufacturer who will call if they need new certificates of insurance and sends the check out the same day they receive the set sheet and invoice. If one can do that why can't they all?

Don't even get me started on certificates of insurance. They are sent out at renewal time and many of the manufacturers won't have them for the first set after renewal. What the heck do they do with them when they are sent out.

Only one of our builders sends the set sheet in for us. We usually walk away from the set with signed set sheet in hand. There are a few that we need to bug and beg to get it but I am persistent since we don't get paid without it.