Have you ever studied your day and wondered if you’re being as efficient with time as you could be? I do. Practically everyday I consider that question, and it moves me to constantly improve. Time, after all, is the most precious resource we have. Why waste it?
I love the adage that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s up to us how we spend our time. No matter how disciplined I become at time management, the $5 per hour stuff always seems to shine brighter than the $500 per hour tasks. After all, it’s easier to pitch in and help your employees with an installation than pondering the strategic direction of your company over the next two years.
If you own a custom installation business, chances are you spend a lot of time selling. Statistically, you’re the top (or only) sales person in your company. Selling feels good. It’s euphoric and akin to a drug addict getting his fix. There’s nothing like the rush of a getting the client to a “yes” and closing the deal. I’ve been addicted to that feeling since the third grade. When we’re selling, we’re working and bringing home the bacon. It’s fulfilling and you can look back on the day with pride. There’s a small catch. If you’re constantly selling, other parts of your company become neglected and shunted to the side.
Companies where the owner does most of the sales can only grow so big. For some, that’s fine. For others, they spend all day selling and end up looking back on a year of results commensurate with the last. The selling CEO wanting to grow will need to delegate some of their sales responsibilities to move through the no man’s land of slow growth.
My first employee was a salesperson. I thought hiring that role would free me up to focus on managing other parts of the business. I then began hiring installers and managing them. Pretty soon I couldn’t keep up with that either and hired an installation manager. More sales people came onboard, and they, in turn, got their own manager.
Michael Gerber does a great job outlining the transition points common in most businesses (custom installation is no exception) in his book, The E Myth. Moving from technician to manager and ultimately leader can be exceptionally challenging, especially if starting the business from the field. It’s a common perception by technicians that starting a custom installation business is easy. Gerber begs to differ and pegs the likelihood of success of most technician-turned-owner businesses as very low. His message isn’t meant to discourage and serves to educate new business owners in the pitfalls they should avoid.
If I started a new company tomorrow, here are the jobs I’d outsource or hire from Day 1:
3. Data Entry
7. Project Management
8. Design & Engineering
10. Warehouse Management & Logistics
I’m sure you’re thinking, “that sounds great, Clifford, but completely unaffordable.” That’s true, if you value money over time. If you consider time your most precious resource, however, you can’t afford NOT to hire or outsource these roles from Day 1. Furthermore, the more you can outsource early on, the less cash you need to run your business day to day and can hire resources full time when they start to make more financial sense.
Have you divided your own responsibilities into $5 and $500 per hour columns? How many $5 per hour tasks are you guilty of daily? Make 2018 the year you chop that $5 list in half. Now take a $500 per hour issue (like improving employee happiness) and spend 1 hour daily trying to solve it. Are you in?
Stay frosty and see you in the field!