- Business: OJ Handyworks Inc.
- Location: Frederick, Md.
- One Interesting Fact about Oscar Jimenez: Framing is his favorite part of carpentry, and he loves building houses from scratch.
- One interesting Fact about OJ Handyworks: It has never advertised. All business is word of mouth, starting with Oscar’s original flyer on a grocery store bulletin board.
After years of working on construction crews, Oscar Jimenez launched his own contracting company called OJ Handyworks Inc., in Rockville, Md. As the business grew, Oscar hired more people. Soon, however, he was struggling to keep an accurate tally of his crew’s hours. After discovering ezClocker, Oscar was able to calculate precise timesheets and organize his finances, giving him more time to focus on growing his business.
A Business Born of Necessity
When Oscar Jimenez first came to the United States from Costa Rica in the late 1990s, he did what many new immigrants do: he looked for work. “Construction was available at that time, so I did a lot of side jobs here and there,” he says. He eventually found steady work in a construction crew. But one day, the foreman, realizing he was overstaffed, let him go. The timing couldn’t have been worse: Oscar’s wife was pregnant with their first child. “It was very scary,” he says. “We had some savings, but not enough to last more than three months without employment.”
Oscar knew he had to find work fast. He’d learned a lot about carpentry during his time working construction, so he went to the local grocery store and put up a flyer that read, “Handyman for hire” on the community bulletin board. He cut tear-off strips into it that listed his contact information. Then he waited for his phone to ring.
Finally, someone called and hired him for a small repair job. They liked Oscar and appreciated his work, so they recommended him to their friends. That job led to other jobs. Soon, Oscar had so many scheduled projects that he had to hire people to help him. That was the start of OJ Handyworks Inc., a nimble, multitalented contracting company specializing in residential remodeling in the Rockville, Md., area.
“I was relying on my employees’ word, which isn’t a very professional way to track time,” Oscar says.
The Downside of Rounding Up Hours
For Oscar, who had always worked on crews, managing a business came with its share of challenges. “When you work with someone else, you’re usually guaranteed jobs,” he says. “But when you start on your own, you have to make sure you have plenty of work to stay busy.”
Then there was the question of payroll. His crew reported their hours to him via text, or sometimes verbally, and they usually rounded up to the nearest hour. It was hardly accurate. “I was relying on my employees’ word, which isn’t a very professional way of tracking time,” he says. With four full-time employees plus day laborers all rounding up, payroll was taking a hit, and Oscar didn’t have a clear picture of how many hours of labor each job was costing him.
It was clear to Oscar that he needed a simple way to keep track of employees’ hours. “It needed to be accurate and fair–something I could control and check.”
In addition to day-to-day operations, ezClocker helped Oscar take control of his business matters.
Achieving Accuracy with ezClocker
After perusing the App store and auditioning a few time management apps, Oscar discovered ezClocker. He quickly saw that it had everything he needed in a time-keeping app. “My crew could clock in and clock out and not have to worry about tallying their hours,” he says. “Everyone gets paid for the work they’ve done, and I can see who worked when, and whether they were on time. This really helps me keep a close eye on business operations.” ezClocker also saved Oscar money. “The monthly fee for ezClocker is pennies on what I was spending to round up all the hours,” he says. “I’ve made it back many times over.”
In addition to day-to-day operations, ezClocker helped Oscar take control of his business matters. “I’m horrible when it comes to the administration part of my business,” he admits. “I get involved in the field, but I hate the paperwork. With ezClocker, everything is more organized.” His wife, too, was happy with the change: as an accountant, she handles Oscar’s taxes. For years, she’d been asking him to get more organized. “ezClocker takes a little bit of the stress off that process as well, because I can access my tax information more easily,”Oscar says.
Thanks to ezClocker, Oscar can dedicate more time to the client-facing side of the business.
More Time for Clients
These days, Oscar drives from site to site, checking on progress. His crew is usually working on four or five different jobs a week, all within close proximity to one another. Oscar doesn’t advertise his services; all of his business comes through word of mouth. That first customer who hired him from the flyer ad 18 years ago is now a regular client. Oscar considers them family.
Maintaining good relationships with customers in a close-knit community helped OJ Handyworks corner the neighborhood market. Now, he has a reputation to maintain. Thanks to ezClocker, Oscar can dedicate more time to the client-facing side of the business. “A lot of people might know how to do carpentry and remodeling, but not everyone knows how to deal with the pressure, and work with customers,” he says. “My job follows me home: I have to be pretty much on call all the time. But that all comes with being the owner and having responsibility for everything.”
Oscar’s biggest advice for those launching a business? “Learn everything you can, from every source you can,” he says.
A Jack of All Trades
A voracious learner, Oscar is always eager to expand his repertoire of skills. A few years ago, he took college courses to attain his home inspection license. Now home inspections are among his services. His other side business is flipping houses with his father-in-law. Sometimes, his three teenage kids come to the site to help out. “We’ll work on a house one weekend, as a family,” he says. “The kids like it, and they get a little bit of money.
Oscar’s biggest advice for those launching a business? “Learn everything you can, from every source you can,” he says. “I teach my guys, but I learn from them, too, because they have experiences from other jobs that I don’t.” A diverse skill set is critical if you want to stay employed when times are tough, he says. “I didn’t just focus on being a carpenter–I learned new things whenever I had the time,” Oscar says. “Now, I’m always busy because I know how to do a little bit of everything.”