Work-life balance — you’ve earned those weekends off!

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RMBA president Darrell Trigg

By RMBA president Darrell Trigg

As the pace of life Is ever increasing and the internet allows our clients to be more educated about what they want in their new home or commercial building, the demands on our time increase exponentially.

The pressure this places on us, our partners and families is not what we went into business for!

Having experienced all of the above, there are a few things I have learned and implemented along the way to make a difference to how we operate and how to reduce the pressure of time, giving me my life back.

Understand what you want to do in the business

For me, being clear about what part I enjoyed about being in business made it easier for me to plan to achieve that.

I created an organisation chart for our business that had the different roles we would need in five to 10 years.

At that time I was doing them all; sales, marketing, pricing, invoicing, managing the jobs, and building. By using the “Org Chart”, I was able to understand what I liked, and then worked to set up our business to fill the other roles.

The first role filled was by my wife Marlene, who helped out by doing all of the company’s administration.

As time went on, I was able to employ builders to help me on site, which freed me up to meet clients, and to undertake marketing of the business.

Understanding what I wanted to do in our business paved a clear way forward.

Be an effective delegator 

Once I understood what my role was, I was able to delegate some of my other roles to our current team, or look for someone who had the specific skills to fill a role that was on our Org Chart.

Delegating is easy once you are clear on what you want to achieve.

I am a firm believer in the fact that no individual gets up in the morning with the intention of deliberately sabotaging their workplace.

If you place trust in someone by delegating tasks or projects to them and fully support them, just watch what happens — they will absolutely thrive! You, your business and their job satisfaction will skyrocket.

The challenge is, when do you employ the person that will be an office manager, site manager or off-tools supervisor?

Every time I have got to the point where I have thought I can’t afford to but can’t afford not to, I have done it — and it has paid massive dividends.

Create expectation up front 

One of the best ways to manage the time we spend in our business and get back the time we spend with family is to create the expectation with our clients early in the relationship.

In our business, we programme all our builds on a five-day week, and tell our clients not to expect us on site on the weekends.

Sometimes clients demand that you be finished by a set date.

If you can’t complete it during a five-day week programme, then maybe you need to say to them their terms are not acceptable, as you and your team deserve the weekend to spend with their families — I am sure the client would thik the same for themselves.

This is the same as the expectation you lay out at the start about the consequences to the client if they do not complete regular maintenance on their new house (as they do with their new car).

Be clear about your rules of engagement up front — and if they don’t like them, is the job really worth it? My experience is most clients respect that.

The unsung heroes of our industry are the wives and partners who are at home juggling the demands of the business, the household and bringing up the family.

The stress this places on them, coupled with the demands placed on us, need to be carefully managed.

Taking the step to go into business for yourself is a very brave one. It is fraught with challenges and difficulties and, at times, is extremely stressful. But it can be very rewarding too.

Creating space away from the business for a couple of days each week is critical in helping you reset and continue on.

Do not be afraid to say no to that client whose demands are counter to how you operate your business.

Understand what you enjoy doing within your business, work to delegate other roles whilst supporting and growing your team, and create clear expectation early in your engagement with your client.

If you don’t like how they want to contract, you walk away and take the weekends off. You have earned the right to them.