The owner or manager of a remodeling firm often assumes multiple roles designer, estimator, salesperson, supervisor and recruiter, to name a few. Juggling all these responsibilities can be exhausting, and, worse, it may prevent you from contributing the most value to your company and its clients.
Remodelers often are "outrageously overworked," say Linda Case and Victoria Downing, remodeling consultants and authors of Mastering the Business of Remodeling. They recommend that overworked remodelers assess whether they’re taking on too much work or just mismanaging their time. Often, both factors contribute to burnout.
They offer these 10 tips for lightening your workload and managing your time more efficiently:
- Keep a log. Chances are you're so busy you haven't really thought about how you're divvying up your time. "Time-pressed remodelers should analyze their activities to focus on those with the highest impact within the company," Downing says. She suggests keeping a two-week log of all work activities (such as job-site visits, material takeoffs and communication with clients), noting how long each one takes. The log will give you the big picture of a typical workweek and help you see where your time might be better-spent.
- Delegate. If you discover you're using time unwisely, entrust tasks to others in your firm or outsource the work. If anyone else is able to do the work competently for less than your own rate, hand it over. "It's easy to find someone to do your books or to send out marketing materials, but it's hard to find anyone else who can think strategically about the business or do the planning that's so important if the business is to be successful," Downing says.
- Train employees well. You won't feel uneasy about letting employees take charge if you have total confidence in their abilities. Help them master the skills essential to the job, whether you conduct the training yourself or enroll employees in job-related training programs. The payoff: a motivated workforce with the know-how necessary to make smart decisions without your supervision.
- Devote a day to the office. Don't spend most of your time in the field and neglect essential office work, such as completing estimates and following up with clients. Downing and Case suggest spending four days in the field and a full day in the office every week. Remodeling contractors who have adopted this approach save time because they can focus on tasks without interruption.
- Don't micromanage. Let your office staff and field crews carry out the everyday tasks you've trained them to do. If they're constantly looking over their shoulders knowing that you could show up any minute, it not only creates tension for them but also takes you away from more important duties such as business planning and networking.
- Prioritize. Focus your efforts on the work that's most urgent. Set A-B-C goals for the day and complete all "A" tasks before moving on to less important "B" and "C" activities.
- Get organized. Take advantage of computer technology by using scheduling and database software to plan your activities, manage appointments and keep track of client addresses and project history.
- Don't procrastinate. Don't squander your time by setting work aside that you can tackle now. Handle work only once rather than facing it again later. That advice applies to both paperwork and business decisions.
- Know your work style. Do you wake up in the morning exploding with energy but lose steam by the end of the day? If so, try to schedule your most challenging tasks, such as job-site supervision, training and recruiting, for when you're at your peak. Save the end of the day for less draining work, such as preparing contracts or ordering materials.
- Recharge your batteries. The day-to-day drudgery of running a business can sap your energy. Recharge by getting away from the job to re-connect with yourself and your community. One way to revive your spirits is through volunteer work.