When you’re first starting out in business, you’re going to find that you make a lot of mistakes.
Like, a lot. I know that I did.
When I first started my home service business when I was 22, there were a lot of policies and procedures that I would use that I thought would keep my business running efficiently. Most of them were more complicated, and were drilled into my head by the academic world (Gant charts lol)
However, many of them only served to muck everything up and slow things down. In practice, simplicity and consistency trumps all.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about how to keep my business running efficiently.
These are the 7 simple rules that I follow to make my life easier and keep my business profitable.
#1 Keep One Crew on One Project
If there’s anything that I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you should keep one crew on one project until that project is finished.
My partner and I both made this mistake a few times. A crew would be halfway finished with a project, but another project would come up that needed the skills of a couple of the guys on the crew of the other project.
In my mind, I thought that it was best to send a couple of guys over to the new project to get it started, and train the guys starting on the new project. From a text book perspective it sounded logical.
Oh how wrong those books were. I found that moving guys between crews and half finished projects only caused more problems than it solves. If a necessary tool came up missing, it was always blamed on the other guys. Tasks that were generally handled by someone who left a job… well those never got done. The change of leadership and task assignments on the job sites would leave everything grinding to a halt. Issues of deficiency came up frequently as projects were finished and problems were blamed on someone else who showed up after the start or left before it was finished. The new guys on the crew would be slow to pick up what was going on, people would argue about mistakes, and it generally created more chaos than I wanted.
Instead, I’ve found it better to keep guys on one project until it’s finished. For this, completion bonuses work great.
#2 Make the Labor/Cost Efficient Decision
Decisions come up all throughout the day.
And they can be difficult to make.
However, I’ve found that it’s always best to make the decision that saves you the most time/cost on labor.
For example, imagine that your crew is out on a project 30 miles away, and they forgot a ladder.
Now, there are basically two decisions that you could make.
The first choice is that you can have someone drive all the way back to your warehouse to pick up the ladder. In this scenario, you don’t have to pay for a new ladder. However, it’s a huge waste of time. Your guy has to spend an hour driving each way, might fill up on gas, and maybe even pick up a sandwich.
Lets just say each one of your guys costs $35/hour after taxes and workerscomp. That trip is cost at least $150. It’s a huge waste of time and labor.
Instead, you should just bite the bullet and have your crew drive over to the closest Home Depot to buy a new ladder. Although you’re spending some money on a new ladder that you don’t really need, you would be paying your crew to stand around and do nothing until someone picked up the ladder. Also, your customers will be happier since your workers won’t be disappearing. This a big one as customers righteously don’t like to see workers disappear.
As other decisions come up I consistently go with the choice that save the most on labor, even if it comes at a larger expense elsewhere.
#3 Keep Customers Informed
Communication is key.
Your customers should never feel that you are trying to hide something from them. There’s a lot going on that they don’t know about, so it’s important that you get out in front of any potential issues.
For example, you don’t want your customer calling you to tell you that your crew didn’t clean up before they left.
You should already know that.
Since you already know that, you should send your customer a quick message telling them your crew didn’t clean up today, but they’ll get to it tomorrow.
It makes people happy to know that you’re on top of everything. I like to say “update the customer before they update you”
#4 Only Provide Awesome, Efficient Services
Your business shouldn’t be trying to provide every service under the sun.
Instead, you should only focus on services in which you can provide awesome, efficient service.
Being in the home services industry, people are frequently asking me to do a lot of different jobs. Unfortunately, we can’t do all of them in an awesome, efficient manner.
Although many of our competitors offer fences, my company has just never been able to install fences in an efficient way that keeps customers happy.
So, we don’t do fences.
#5 Keep a Supply of Cash
Having cash on hand to cover a month’s worth of fixed cost and labor expenses is important.
Although you likely won’t have a month without making any money at all, you should still have enough cash on hand to cover things like advertising, utilities, rent, gas, and payroll.
Companies that don’t have this money on hand start making stupid decisions (like taking loans) when business starts to slow.
Don’t be like that.
#6 Keep Your Website Breathing
Perception is everything.
That’s why you should keep your website breathing.
By breathing, I mean that you should keep your website updated. Your prices should be correct, the services that you offer should be accurate, and you should post on your blog regularly.
To people visiting your website, a breathing site means that you’re an active company.
An active company is one of the first signs of being a trustworthy company.
#7 Have a Plan for Each Day
When I first started out, I didn’t always have a plan written down for each day.
Now, I couldn’t imagine going through a day without a plan.
At the end of every workday, or at some point during the night, I write out a plan for the following day.
By having a plan, you cross things off as you finish them. It helps you be more productive overall, and it reduces the anxious feeling that you get at the end of the day when you feel like you haven’t accomplished enough.
Make Your Own Rules
I’ve found that these 7 rules help to keep me both sane and productive every single day.
While you may find that many of these rules for you as well, you may have some in mind that use each day.
What are they?
Let us know in the comments section below!