My story probably isn’t unique to many of you reading Roofing Contractor, but sometimes I find the lessons that are the most powerful are the ones that have been in front of us all along. When we finally have our eyes opened to see them, that’s when the real impact hits home.
I happened into the world of roofing contracting by accident. When my home needed a new roof, I decided to learn how to install it myself. Pretty soon, friends and family were calling me to get their roofs done. Before I knew it, I had a business on my hands. Learning to install a new roof was one thing, but running a business was another beast altogether.
What happened next is, unfortunately, a story that I’ve heard from dozens of other business owners that I talk to. I fell into debt. I was working around the clock to keep things going. The worst part was the business was all me. There wasn’t anyone else to carry the load. If I stopped, the business stopped. I spent my time with multiple cell phones strapped to my belt and my head buried in the business until the wee hours of the morning.
After one cold winter evening, I knew things had to change. Everything was running hard as usual, and I’d been struggling to get jobs completed and keep the business in order. This night was no different than any other over the past few years as I worked well into the evening and faxed a material order over to my supplier for a job I needed that week.
You may be able to relate to the fact that when you have your head buried in the business, it’s hard to see where you’re going. That was just another day for me, but a couple of days later I got a call from that supplier. He thought my material order might be a joke, and he was calling to confirm it. He indicated that I’d faxed the material order over to him at 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. I hadn’t even realized it was New Year’s Eve as another year slipped away as I toiled in the business. Days flew by. Holidays were just another day. Every day presented new fires that needed to be put out.
Contrast that desperate situation with the fact that this winter, my family and I were able to leave my business behind for an entire week and take a vacation to Disney World. I didn’t have to worry about the business being there when I got back. I didn’t have to worry about fires, revenues or running calls. Nothing fell apart and nothing skipped a beat.
What brought on the change? I became more than a roofer. I became a businessman. My business no longer revolved around me and that belt full of cell phones.
Today, rather than my company running on whatever energy I have left in my tank, it runs on systems that anyone can follow whether I’m there or not. Plus, by associating with other business owners and successful roofers, I’ve discovered how to run a company rather than have it run me.
So what are the lessons or the takeaways from my tale of transformation? Like I said, it’s a common tale among our industry, but some of the most powerful lessons are the things you hear time and time again. The one time they stick is the time that changes happen. BC: If you want make the shift, here are a few factors to think about:
- Don’t do it yourself. Things shouldn’t revolve around you. One of the toughest lessons I learned was that you can’t multiply yourself, and there is only so much you can do. With that in mind, don’t do it all yourself. One of the best moves you can make is to hire a professional call taker to get those cell phones off your belt. Chances are he or she will be better at booking calls anyway since they won’t be worrying about the 2 million other items going through your mind in a day.
- Get a support system.Get a support system. I turned the businessman corner the day I joined forces with Roofers’ Success International. Now I have a support network. Your support network could be an organization like RSI, or simply the other successful roofers or business owners in your area. Other options might include state or national roofing contractors associations and supplier affinity groups. In any event, other successful owners will be able to help you get answers to business problems when they arise. Tap into their expertise.
- Watch your numbers. Being a businessman means staying in control. You have to know where your business is every day and where you’re headed. Knowing that starts by knowing your numbers. How many sales calls do you need every day to reach your goals? What are your goals, and what do you need to do to get there? Everything starts with the numbers, so be sure to know what your key ones are each day.
Start working on your business and reclaim your New Year’s Eves. I know I have.