Every Fire & Security business is a family business. Because every member of a Fire & Security director’s family will be affected by the decisions you have to make every day.
Important and trivial – each decision impacts your business but also the time available for your family.
You work yourself into a frenzy, doing just about every job role in the company without a break. 14 hour days, 7 days a week. Going from one job, installation, chore to the next without the time to think.
Michael Gerber’s The EMyth Contractor says that most Fire & Security MDs don’t own a true business – they own a job. And it’s a job working under the worst, most demanding boss in the world.
There is never any time off because you can’t get the business to run without you.
Did you know that some of your best business ideas happen when YOU ARE NOT EVEN THINKING ABOUT FIRE & SECURITY?
This could happen:
- On a rollercoaster.
- During a cycle ride.
- Playing on the swings.
Or just being part of the day to day routine of YOUR family.
On the few occasions when you are at home, you bring all the problems and emotions from the office with you.
Cashflow worries, staff issues or a difficult installation. The list goes on…
In your heart of hearts, you know you’re only ever half-present. You always have one foot back in the office.
You can carry on like this and hope that things will get better or you can DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Here are 10 things that will free up quality time for you to spend with your family
1. Employee or Owner – Who are YOU?
Michael Gerber’s The EMyth for Contractors has some help for you.
There are two YOUs in this business. The “Fire & Security Director as Employee” and the “Fire & Security Director as Owner“.
Create an ‘organisation chart’. It’s a ‘family tree’-style document that shows all the roles in your business.
Put yourself in the box at the top as the Owner
Then add in a box underneath for MD. And three boxes under that on the same line for Sales, Finance and Operations.
Add to the boxes the names of the people who are currently fulfilling those roles.
In some cases, that name will be YOU wearing your “Fire & Security Director as Employee” shoes.
For every role in your business, understand which pair of shoes you are wearing. Owner or Employee.
Whenever you are working as an employee, you must document the most effective way to do that job. And then create a strategy for replacing yourself with someone who can faithfully follow the process you have developed for that role.
Rinse and repeat for all the other roles in your business that require you to be “Fire & Security director as employee” rather than “owner”.
- Answering the phone and Admin
- Business development and Sales
- Quotes and Tenders
- Site Surveys
2. Minimise the number of decisions you make
President Obama chose which suit, shirt and tie he would wear each day at the start of the week.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook wears the same TShirt every day. And it’s not to cut back on laundry.
They both did it as part of a drive to avoid the hundreds of small decisions that can take up huge amounts of brain power and time.
Have you ever had a day where your staff just asked one question after another. Each answer required you composing a detailed explanation. You got to the end of the day and realised that you hadn’t had time to do any of your own work. And you thought:
“It would be quicker to do this myself. So why am I employing you?”
Some employees worry about making decisions. They bring everything for your approval. That needs to stop.
We use THE BINARY RULE. Employees can only ask you questions that have a YES or NO answer.
For everything else, make yourself available for 20 minutes on Monday afternoon. They can book a meeting to ask the longer, more detailed questions.
This encourages them to think through the problem themselves and provide you with options. They learn to step up and become more experienced at dealing with issues. They don’t come running to you every time.
3. Stop acting like Superman
You can outsource to other professionals to fill any remaining boxes in your organisation chart. Experts in their fields. Michael Gerber does have some words of caution about this – you have to have some understanding of the job in order to be able to choose the best sub-contractor.
Don’t just blindly hand over everything without some form of regular communication. And accountability. Agree a goal and a framework for what this expert will be doing.
4. Get someone else to do the book keeping
I know from personal experience that doing this saved me at least one weekend every month!
But you do need to have a system in place. Especially now that the Government want to make tax digital.
Use an accounting package like Xero to keep everything in one place. Make sure your new book keeper and your accountant can both use the accounting package!
Networking meetings can often produce some good recommendations for local book keepers. But always talk to some of their happy customers before you agree to work together.
5. Get someone else to do the HR and recruiting
HR can be a huge thorn in the side of any business owner. So many rules and regulations that are continually updating.
There are lots of local specialist HR consultants – go to any local networking meeting and ask around for recommendations. There are also online apps for managing holidays and sickness.
Recruiting costs can be huge. You don’t want to make an expensive mistake. Fire & Security companies are all crying out for personnel and the available pool of talent is small.
You could end up choosing the best candidate from a bunch where none of them is really right. Find a specialist recruiter with a system to fully match your needs with those of the candidate. Here is one that offers a guarantee.
6. Get someone else to do the marketing
Well I would say that, wouldn’t I! But seriously. If you want to grow your business, it requires an investment of time or money. Someone has to develop your buyer persona and your marketing message. And then ensure that all your promotional material uses them.
Either you invest time you haven’t got trying to learn how to develop your website and market your business effectively.
Or you pay a professional to do it for you. But be aware, there are lots of options and lots of potential pitfalls on this road. Read more about how to choose the right person to do your marketing here.
Look for a specialist in Fire & Security marketing with a proven process and a track record.
7. Focus on the jobs that ONLY YOU CAN DO
Once you have moved yourself out of all the other boxes in your organisation chart, you can focus on being the owner or the MD. Strategic planning AND nurturing relationships with your best customers.
And speaking of customers.
8. Fire your difficult customers
Our coach, Perry Marshall, says:
20% of your customers make 120% of your profit
20% of your customers lose 20% of that profit, bringing the total back to 100.
It may not be 20% of your customers that lose you 20% profit. It may be as little as 5%.
But I promise you, a small fraction of your customers are costing you more money than you’re making.
And I bet your spouse will be able to tell you which ones consume a disproportionate amount of time and often give frustrating results. These are the ones who are usually losing you money.
And these are the customers who are eating into your time with your family because you’re often moaning about them when you are at home.
9. Go on a social media fast
Social Media is one of the biggest time sucks in everyday life. It’s a huge temptation to be distracted. Go on a diet!
You should still do LinkedIn to actively find and nurture potential commercial clients. Click here to get your free guide to LinkedIn for Fire & Security installers.
Remove the apps for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat from your mobile phone.
Limit yourself to 30 minutes of social media a day. After business hours and after the kids have gone to bed.
And ONLY do it from your PC. You will be amazed how much time this frees up.
10. Clear out your inbox
Have a massive unsubscribe from all those newslettes and emails that you signed up for. They seemed useful at the time. But you never read them and they just clutter up your inbox.
Click on each email. Scroll down to the bottom and find the link to Unsubscribe.
Except for mine, obviously!
Now schedule time on your calendar for your family
You’ve now freed up your day from all the barnacles that suck away at your time and your energy.
Make time to do the things you want to do – after all why was it that you started your own business?
For most Fire & Security directors, it was to have more freedom to do what you wanted to do – in the way that you wanted to do it.
But running a business can drag you into all sorts of bad habits.
Get back to your original goal.
Why am I telling you this?
Because Lollipop’s customers are putting into place all the suggestions above. It’s giving them back TIME.
AND the decision to employ a specialist marketing agency to focus on Traffic, Leads and Customers is producing fantastic results.
They are receiving more quality work than ever before.
So it’s giving them the additional funds to employ extra staff and outsource other work to professional experts.
That gives them even more time. To spend with their family.