“I really wish you would stop writing books and giving away all of the secrets! Of course, I’m mostly kidding. Thanks for everything you do to help your fellow contractor, Al. You certainly changed the course of my life.”
I grew up in my family’s plumbing, heating, and cooling company and among my earliest memories are my Dad getting calls in the middle of the night from people with heating emergencies—a homeowner whose furnace had quit or a bakery where they needed the steam from the boilers for their baking. When this happened, rather than leave me at the house, he’d take me with him.
I remember it being fun to go on those calls. The bakers liked me and would feed me bagels, cookies, and cake while my dad toiled to get their boilers up and running. Not so much fun for my Dad, though, who had worked hard all day and was now working late into the night!
I followed my Dad and brothers into the business and eventually rose through the ranks to the point where I started to get the middle of the night wakeup calls. And I quickly learned it was not nearly as much fun to wake up and run those calls as it was to be that kid tagging along.
The problem was not so much that I was getting the middle of the night wakeup calls it was that I was getting them on a too regular basis. Even though our company had grown to 25 techs and a real set of shifts existed from 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., 10:00 a.m. – 7 p.m., 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and even 5:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. during the busy season.
This wasn’t on-call like you probably know it; we actually had tech teams who were out working their shifts and running scheduled calls at those hours.
What this amounted to though was my trying to sleep but not really sleeping because one part of me was busy waiting for the phone to ring. And it usually did.
Businesses either get better, or they get worse. At least that’s what I finally realized at my own service contracting company years ago. It’s akin to pushing a boulder uphill. The business is either moving up, or it’s moving down. You don’t want to be caught in the path of that boulder rolling south.
Yet in so many businesses, rocks big and small are continually sliding back down to the bottom of the hill because as the owner, there’s never just one rock to push up. There are many. We dream of the day we can stop pushing, yet we can’t even keep what we have going in the right direction!
The only way you’re going to get it down to pushing just one rock uphill is to make a vow to yourself—and your team—that you’ll finally get serious about finding a way to get others to push the rocks they should be pushing!
Hey, it’s exhausting to run around day after day pushing the same rock uphill that you rescued from the bottom just the day before. It’s even more draining knowing that it and others will be rolling right back to where they were again—unless something changes.
Got more time at the end of a workday than you know what to do with? Not likely.
How about finding extra time during the holidays to stop and enjoy as a team the holidays let alone finding extra time to be available for fun and family time? Not likely.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
How do I know? I was once a stressed-out contractor just like you. I fell in the hole of being steamrolled by the holidays every year. And it was doubly bad when it was a crazy cold winter and we were maxed out covering heating calls and attending to frozen plumbing pipes.