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Take a Time Out on This Week’s Video Blog

With so many things coming at us……customers demanding immediate attention……crazy regulations……tough competition, we can easily get stressed and wore out.

Watch this week’s video blog as I talk about taking a Time Out to recharge your batteries. Get refocused on where you want to take your business. Help your employees and those around you to achieve their goals……soon you’ll see yourself achieving your goals too!

P.S.: If you know of people that could benefit from my weekly video blog too, just ask them to sign up via email or RSS feed on the link at the bottom right hand corner of my home page.

Dealing with Cause and Effect on This Week’s Video Blog

When you deal with problems, have you been dealing with the cause or the effects?

Let’s learn to deal with the cause of our problems today on this week’s video blog.

As you watch this video, think about the biggest problem you are facing today. Deal with the cause and you’ll be a much happier business owner!

P.S.: Thank you to everyone for sharing and for your continued feedback!

Dictate Your Ebb and Flow on This Week’s Video Blog

How do tides effect your business?

Don’t be discouraged when the tide is low…… make changes and be active. Then you’ll be prepared for when the high tide comes rolling in!

As you watch this week’s video, be thinking about what stage of the tide your business is in right now…… and what you can do to plan for the ebb and flow that is coming.

P.S.: If you know folks that would like to receive my weekly video blog, just ask them to sign up via email or RSS feed on the link at the bottom right hand corner of my home page.

Step Back From Stress on This Week’s Video Blog

Are you stressed?

Step back from stress on my first weekly video blog!

We all need to take a break and unplug. While being refreshed you’ll come up with great ideas…… make sure you write them down and review them a few days later.

Click on the video below to watch this week’s video. Don’t forget to leave comments or send me an email with your feedback!

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Discover 3 Ways to Enjoy Summer AND Your Business!

Summer is here and the Stanley Cup NHL Hockey Playoffs are over …….finally!

The lure of goofing off  battles with the responsibility of getting something done in your business.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! What if you could do it ALL — make money, grow your business AND have time to play? Interesting concept, eh?

Here are 3 ways to do just that:

1. Plan your time off.  Do you have your vacations blocked off yet? What about afternoons off? Long weekends? Go ahead and plan those as well and get them on the calendar (because if you don’t it’s not going to happen). Do you know what else this will do for you?  If you have time blocked off  you can relax and focus during work time because you have your “play” dates already accounted for. Simple. But it works.

Not sure how much time off to block off? Do you have a big project starting up this summer? Catching up on rebuilds from all the tear outs this spring? You may not be able to take as much time off as you’d like, but schedule what you can and see what happens. Or maybe you have decided you’re going to “coast” this summer? Then definitely block off more time. Or just ask your gut. How much time is your gut telling you to take off?

2. Plan to WORK on your work days. No screwing around. You have your time off planned, so on the days where you’re scheduled to get things done, get things done. Because if you don’t, you’re going to be tempted to not take your time off, which means you’ve in effect “lied” to yourself.

3. Recharge yourself if you’re really feeling stuck or sluggish. I get it. Just because the calendar says you must work doesn’t mean you’ll actually feel like working. So what do you do on those days?

Take a break. Go for a walk. Call a couple of friends and go to Tim Hortons or Fivebucks for a coffee. Blast an oldie but goodie song on your iPod. Go outside and sit in the sun for 10 minutes. Go to the gym. Take a half hour ride on your Harley. You get the picture right?

The best thing you can do is move around, either by exercising or a change of location or both. It doesn’t have to last long — even 10 minutes is enough. Just do SOMETHING. Chances are when you sit back down you’ll be able to focus on your work.

Dan enjoying Cape Breton, NS on a Harley Above all, keep in mind why you have a business in the first place.

 

Yes, we often put in long hours but you also need to balance that with time off. Chances are you didn’t start a business so you could work all the time but so you could work when you CHOSE to. Summer is a great time to remind yourself you have the power to arrange your work schedule to suit yourself, your family and your life.

ACTION STEP #1: Open your calendar right now and book in some vacation days and some “play time”.

ACTION STEP #2: Leave a comment below and let us know if this helped you plan a better summer (smile)

P.S.: Guess what I do to recharge my batteries and have a little fun…..

A Great Leadership Skill is……Feedback

Feedback. Do you offer it? Have you even thought about it?

Feedback is essential if you want to become a better leader. It is a critical skill for you, supervisors, managers, and really for everyone on your team. As important as it is, so many business owners continue to be very uncomfortable with both providing feedback, and believe it or not, sometimes even in receiving feedback.

If you are providing feedback to someone, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

1. Be specific. Telling someone they did a “great job” without providing specifics is not very useful. Provide examples of when they did a “great job” – what did they do, when, where etc. Provide detail on what you noticed, not what you assumed.

For example “Joe, I just want to say how much I appreciate you getting to the Smith emergency water loss and helping out even though it was your weekend off. We needed your help. Mrs. Smith needed your help. We couldn’t have got the job done Saturday without you and I don’t even want to think what would have happened if you hadn’t of noticed the deep freeze had gotten unplugged by our new tech. Joe, your attention to detail is fantastic. I always feel better when I know you are out on one of our jobs.”

2. Provide feedback that is meaningful. Feedback should be relevant and important to us, or our work. Have a conversation about what type of feedback your colleagues are looking for, what’s important in their work, or with their priorities. What type of feedback is meaningful for each person you work with?

Hmmm, kind of reminds us that communication is so very important. Quick feedback like “Sally, I really appreciate the way you keep your service van looking neat, tidy and clean…..inside and out. I may not thank you for this often but I notice it daily. Thank you for taking pride in our equipment and being here to serve our customers.”

3. Provide feedback at an appropriate time. The timing of feedback is also important. Is the person open to receiving feedback? Is it an appropriate time, or location?   When feedback is delivered is also important. When would be the most appropriate time to provide feedback?

Calling Frank at home at 11:00PM on a Friday night to thank them for looking after a little after hours service job is a nice gesture but may not be the best timing. If you brought Frank to the front of the room during your weekly staff meeting (you do have those right?) and said in front of every one ‘Frank was just heading out of the shop on Friday afternoon for a long weekend and when he heard there was a customer had a couple of roof tabs missing he volunteered to do a service call on his way home. Frank knew the forcast was for rain all weekend and he went above and beyond to help our customer. It’s customer service like this that keeps bringing in business for all of us to stay busy. How about we all give Frank a big thank-you’. “

4. Provide feedback on an ongoing basis – Feedback is most useful when it relates to events that just happened. So many times feedback is only provided when it is performance review time. Feedback about something that happened six months is not as useful as having a discussion about something that happened today.

How do you want to provide more regular feedback to your team? Think about this and make a conscious effort to do so during the next week.

Watch and see if your staff doesn’t look a little sharper and stand a little taller when you are giving them sincere, quick feedback on how they are performing.

What changes do you want to make in your company / management style with respect to providing feedback? Please share an idea or experience by sending me an email or posting one in the comment box below.

I guess what I am saying is…….. it would be great to get some feedback from you!

Time Management Rules (4 of 4)

Four Time Management Rules You Need To Understand!

(This is the fourth of 4 blogs in this series)

This one is for good measure…..and to help and encourage you on developing better and more efficient ‘Time’ habits.

Procrastination ties these last two time management rules together. It is also a symptom of time mis-management.

Sometimes, good enough is good enough. Not always…..but more often than we would think.

I am not suggesting we take short cuts in delivering outstanding customer service or in the final product we deliver our customers.

What I am saying is there are lots of times we can make a decision without investigating or deliberating it more. This will save a lot of time both for you and your staff.

Also, encourage all your staff to make decisions. Especially as it relates to serving our customers. It can cost us hundreds of dollars if a working supervisor doesn’t realize or understand they have the authority on making non-critical decisions. Yes, they have to know the boundaries to this. But if they can spend 15 minutes doing something little that wasn’t on the Scope Sheet but obviously needs to be done, empower them to do it and make notes for the Project Manager.

Yes, there will be some cases where it is non-billable time. But look at the time saved for a recall. Look at the customer good-will that can be earned. Think about how good the adjuster is going to feel when they call the homeowner and get a glowing report about the service you deliver.

So, lets have a look at our last Time Management point in this blog series.

4) Murray’s Commandment  (pun intended)– Done is better than perfect.

Many are plagued with perfectionism. Some wear it like a badge of honor. Nevertheless, perfectionism is another delay tactic. Perfection is reserved for a Deity. We mere mortals will have to settle for excellence. And even excellence takes time. You won’t get it right the first time or maybe the first ten times. All you can do is your best with the information you have available, finish it and leave it open for revision when you get better information.

This is not an opening for shoddy work. Do you best while complying with Pareto, Drucker and Parkinson and keep working on making it better each time. If you wait for perfection, you will get nothing done .

Progress is always preferred over perfection……… and usually required.

Make some progress. Get something done. Otherwise, a year from now you will be right where you are now, fretting about all the time that is being lost and nothing is being done.

Any one of the Four Time Management Rules will move you ahead to accomplish more. Pick one that will work for you and try it out. If you can do it for 21 days, it will likely become a habit. If you like that one, try another and another.

Remember “do is half of done!”

Time Management Rules (3 of 4)

Four Time Management Rules You Need To Understand

(This is the third of 4 blogs in this series) 

Spend the second hour at work each morning working on ‘Revenue Producing’ work.

This single idea alone can transform your business.

For the next week, schedule an hour every morning to work on only projects and tasks that will bring business in, improve your gross margins or streamline other parts of your business to make it more efficient. It will amaze you at what idea’s you will come up with once you start doing this.

Years ago I heard someone say “we can’t manage time but we can manage interruptions”.  Did you get that. Read it again. We can manage our interruptions. What can you do towards doing this better?

Which nicely gets us to our third Time Management Principal:

3) Parkinson’s Law – Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Cyril Parkinson was a British naval historian, an author of some sixty books and a scholar in public administration. You remember cramming at school, right? Sometimes it worked well. That is a precise demonstration of Parkinson’s Law. You could have started and finished it sooner, but there were the inevitable delays.

Parkinson’s law is a symptom of not following Pareto and Drucker. If you are not following the two previous rules, you wait until the last minute to get your “real” work done? You’re wasting 80% of your time on unimportant things is the root cause of the time mis-management disease.

The cure is making shorter and shorter deadlines. Don’t wait. As Larry the Cable guy says…. ‘Let’s get’r done!”  and move onto the next number one item on your list.

Procrastination is characterized as ineffective, useless delay. The delay is due to some apprehension, fear it won’t be right, or it won’t be good enough or not seeing the way clear to completion. It can also mean we suffer from ‘paralyses from analysis’.

Assuming you have a tight deadline, the cure is to ask for someone to help you over this hurdle.

That’s right, ask for help. This can be tough for a lot of macho type guys or type ‘A’ personalities.

Ask someone to support you to complete a job, estimate or some other kind of work on time. As tough as this may be for you to comprehend, someone on your team may actually be better at doing a job function than you are.

Progress is made, very often, in small steps, but progress can…….and must, be made to achieve your personal and business goals!

Time Management Rules (2 of 4)

Four Time Management Rules You Need To Understand

(This is the second of 4 blogs in this series)

We are busy. All the time. But is it ‘necessary’ work?

Why do most all of us do the following?

Walk into our offices and immediately turn our computer on and the first program we open up is our email. Why in the world do we do this?

Try this…….. if you dare!

For the next three weeks, do at least one hour of work before you open up your email. It is liberating. It will amaze you as to how much work you get accomplished before you start chasing down the rabbit trails of all those emails.

Here are a few questions I get all the time when discussing this.

Q1: But Dan, I can’t turn on my computer and not open my emails.

A1: Yes you can. Turn your email notifications thing-a-maggiger off and don’t open your email program. Hint: don’t be reading your smart phone every 2 minutes either.

Q2: Dan, what do I do for an hour?

A2: May I humbly suggest you take a walk down your hall and see how your Project Managers, Project Coordinators or your Field Supervisors are doing. Ask them how jobs are going. Ask them how you can help them. Ask them if there is anything you should know.

Q3: Okay, Dan, I can’t do that every morning. It will waste my staff’s time.

A3: Agreed. At least once a week go to the back shop first thing in the morning and take your Tech’s and carpenters a box of donuts or a round of coffee. Talk to them. Ask them how things are going. It will amaze you as to how they respond if they know you really have a personal interest in what is going on with them and there jobs.

Q4: Got it Dan. I still have 20 minutes left. What do I do.

A4: Plan your day. Or read an Industry article or magazine. Call a past client. Call a current homeowner you are doing a job for. Dream a bit. Visualize how you want your company to look next quarter, next year….in five years.

Which leads us into our Second Time Management Principal:

2) Drucker’s Declaration – Do first things first and second things not at all.

Peter F. Drucker was a writer and management consultant. His books and articles explored how humans are organized across the business and government.

“First Things First” is attributed to Stephen Covey. Before Mr. Covey, Peter Drucker was advising his clients and readers using the above adage. But even before Mr. Drucker, a famous efficiency expert, Ivy Lee, advised Charles M. Schwab, CEO of Bethlehem Steel on improving his personal efficiency and the efficiency of his staff.

Lee suggested, “At the end of each day, write down the 6 most important things to be done the next day and number them in order of importance. Do the tasks from the most important to least important. After you’ve finished a task, cross it off the list. Any unfinished tasks are rolled over to the next day.” It’s very simple and effective.

Drucker’s Declaration is a more elegant synopsis of Lee’s advice. Once the first things are taken care of, you can move onto the second thing, which is now in first place.

The power of this incredibly simple technique is doing the “To Do” list at the end of your day. Assess the priorities for the next day and put them on your list. Otherwise, you will be reacting to urgent issues that are bound to pop up during the day, instead of dealing with the important ones you already decided upon.

Doing this “To Do” list will result in doing the 20% that counts the most.

So, are you willing to give this a try…………

 

Time Management Rules (1 of 4)

Time Management Rules You Need To Understand

(This is the first of 4 blogs in this series.)

Do you notice that you and your staff are busier than ever? Especially those of us who are on Preferred Vendor programs or working for TPA’s. They are driving a lot of the administrative ‘stuff’ down to us. Plus a lot of work that just a few short years ago that Road Adjusters (remember them) used to do. When I first got in this business a field adjuster, whether independent or staff, was on every property loss. Yes, I said every job. My, how things have changed.

Lately, are you asking yourself questions like:

  • Why am I having trouble getting everything done?
  • There must be a better way to manage my time (or my staff’s)?
  • Why is technology wasting more time than it is saving me?

While I don’t proclaim to have the magic wand to answer all of these and other concerns we all struggle with in this area, I am going to share four simple and useful rules to manage your time more efficiently and effectively in this and three following blog posts.

The first three you might have heard of already. The fourth one I added for good measure.

1) Pareto’s Principle – 80% of the outcomes result from 20% of the causes.

Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. He developed this principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

Do you waste your time on useless activities! Or activities that could easily be delegated?  We all have our own black hole of time: TV, video games, the internet, social media, email, fantasy sports, telephone, socializing face to face, etc. Most of it is in the name of entertainment or enjoyment.

You name it and you have a rationalization for it.

Whatever it is, it’s holding you back from doing what you really need to be doing. What do you need to be doing? What is it that needs to get done and you don’t have enough time for it? It might even be work.

You have too much urgent work to get your important work done. The question is, “Are you doing the right work?” Enter Pareto’s Principal.

Look at your work like you are making a budget.

  • Where are you spending you time now?
  • Where do you want to spend your time?
  • What can you delegate?

There are elements of your work which contribute to outcomes. Some elements contribute to positive outcomes and some contribute to negative outcomes. Using Pareto’s Principle, 20% of the elements you already do reap 80% of the benefit. And 80% of the elements you work on reap 20% of the benefit. Why are you wasting four-fifths of your time for 20% of the benefit? Couldn’t you spend some of that time doing more beneficial work?

Check yourself out. Do an honest assessment of how you spend your time. See if it isn’t true that you spend 80% of you time getting 20% of the results. Turn that around and do 20% of the effort and get 80% of the results.