by Carlos Gonzales, New Look Power Wash
from the January 2011 Issue of Pressure Cleaning Contractor
As with any trade, contractors entering into the power washing business usually have one primary goal in mind: to make money and LOTS of it.
This is probably the most common reason why pressure-washing contractors join the rank and file of this industry. Obviously there is nothing wrong with making money. This is why you are in business, right?
A contractor’s success is often measured by prescribed benchmarks passed down from one generation to the next, the most common of which is how much money do you make? The formula has always been that money equals success. The other is how busy are you. If a contractor is busy, then the old cliché is that they must be successful. And if a contractor is busy seven days a week from sun-up to sun-down, then obviously they are making great money – right?
The Rat Race of Success?
Imagine having a five-year business plan that yields a tremendous growth surge so great that the only way to accomplish it is to place everything else in your life on hold.
For instance, with the increase in business comes an increase of sales calls, which all must be answered within 24 hours. Once answered, you must then schedule the estimates. You must also some time aside at night to keep your company’s web presence in the forefront for your customer base and to answer emails from customers that opted to not call you during the day.
If you are a one-man operation, you obviously will need to finesse your washing schedule in order to make time to actually perform the work that was booked from those sales calls. If you hire employees, you’ve got to train them, which will take a good chunk out of a workday, so plan accordingly.
Phone time with your distributor is a must in order to keep the chemicals/soaps stocked. The phone time with your distributor also affords you the opportunity to ask technical questions about the “rattling noise” you hear on your rig when it is in operation. For some of you, if your rig goes down then you are non-operational at least for the next 24 to 48 hours at minimum.
Then you must make time for marketing. Your time is spent creating and proofreading your marketing fliers/postcards in between answering all the sales calls and the estimates that you just scheduled.
In the past, you were able to make bank deposits every Friday, but today you just cannot seem to make it to the bank until after it is closed because you literally have a thousand other priorities going on with the success of your business.
In between this fast operation tempo, you may manage to give your spouse a call on the phone to let her know that you will not be able to make it to your son’s little league game or your daughter’s dance recital again as promised. You offer up a sincere and heartfelt apology not only to your spouse but more importantly to your child who is obviously upset that you will not be there – again.
You had every intention to make it this time when you left for work that morning, but as luck would have it a customer frantically called at the last minute saying the stain you applied yesterday was not the right color! Before you hang up with your wife, you mention that you will not make it home for dinner either.
Has this been your routine lately? Do the demands of your business and the priorities associated with it overshadow the very reason why you are in business of pressure washing in the first place?
What is Your System?
Business growth and the effort that is required to manage that growth can be a pleasant experience for a pressure washing business owner. As your business grows externally (i.e, sales, marketing, increase in contracts), you must ensure that your internal business infrastructure (i.e. employees, managers, sales team) is also growing to compliment this external growth.
It is highly recommended that your business plan not only speaks on “systems,” but more importantly, that you understand the action on your part to place the right people into your business so that the “systems” in writing can turn to “systems” of reality.
As business owners, we often overlook the infrastructure portion of our business plan by diverting our attention on only how to get our phone to ring. When this happens we find ourselves running our business in what is commonly known as “catch up mode.”
This means that no matter what time of the day it is, you are behind schedule or in catch up mode because your systems still lay dormant.
In conjunction with just being behind schedule every day, we also unconsciously run a
very high risk of losing out on the joys of spending quality time with our family and loved ones as described in the example above. Does this sound like you?
Who is in Charge?
There is good news. Today you are empowered as the owner of your business to stop this madness cycle and take control of your business instead of letting your business control you.
The first step in regaining control of your business is arriving at the understanding and belief that constant business growth is not necessarily the only indicator to success. As a pressure washing contractor with a family, you owe it to your significant other and children to ensure that the growth of your business does not constantly overshadow the simple things in life that everyone in your household needs and wants.
As a business owner, you have the luxury and the ability to scale back your time in the field in order to make the time to give your family the attention they deserve. Why? Because you are the owner and the BOSS. That is right: YOU call the shots on the day-to-day operations, as well as the operation tempo of your day will be like.
If your systems action plan has only been written down but never implemented, then you run a very high risk of burning yourself out very quickly. This, coupled with the mental peer pressure from your significant other that you have not spent quality time with your family in the last four to six months, make it plausible that one day you may wake up and realize that you do not enjoy pressure washing.
Instead of starting your pressure wash season with only the purpose of making as much money as you can, could it be feasible that you approach your pressure wash season with the mindset that your business and family will sustain a “balance” throughout the year? Oh the joy of seeing a young boy’s face light up when he sees BOTH parents sitting in the bleachers to watch his little league game in the middle of the afternoon. Or the smile from ear-to-ear when a young daughter happily jumps into your arms because you came to pick her up from school.
Establishing the right systems in your pressure-washing business takes time and ultimately some trial and error. It is ok if you do not get it right even after several attempts, but be mindful and confident that you will get there eventually. Managing the growth of your company may even mean temporarily not growing at all until you are able to find the right individuals who posses the skill set your business needs to take it to that next level.
Time To Reflect
If you find yourself in the middle of the pressure wash gauntlet today, take a moment and reflect on what is really important in your life on your terms. Ask yourself why you became a pressure-washing contractor in the first place? Was it because you and your family wanted the freedom that you could not obtain working for someone else? If so, where is that freedom today?
Take inventory on how your time away from the family may be viewed by your spouse and your children today. If making money at all costs is what drives you, then congratulations on your success.
If you seek that balance between pressure washing and family, remember that you are empowered to be in control of your days. One of rewards of being a business owner is that you have the ability to keep any schedule that you wish.
I personally know a pressure washing contractor located in Kentucky who has carved out a pretty decent pressure washing business. One of the keys to his success is that he manages his business verses letting his business manage him. It is not uncommon for him to be out riding his Harley in the afternoon or taking his beautiful family to a local restaurant for an early supper on any given day.
This is a prime example of how one pressure washing contractor has taken advantage of why he is in business in the first place. It is ok to enjoy life! I do not know how much money he makes a year but I would guess that he, along with other pressure washing contractors who have mastered this balance between work and family, is probably one of the richest guys in the industry and has very little if any to do with the size of his bank account.
Let’s Go Out for Dinner
So as your phone continues to ring off the hook and you are attempting to be superman for all your customers all at one time, stop and asked yourself whether or not it is really all about the money? If so, continue on your journey and you should be applauded for your sacrifice. If not, I am sure you would be superman to your family, at least for a night, when you show up at the house unannounced to tell them you are taking them out to dinner!
Carlos Gonzales is the owner of New Look Power Wash, a pressure washing company that provides services in California. To learn more, go to www.newlookpowerwash.com.