Probably the most difficult thing to manage is owning your own 24 hour service company.
If you’re an employee it’s even worse. God bless the Flood damage and restoration business employees. And the first thing that comes to mind especially with a 24 hour emergency service company are the horrible hours. You just got done with your day and it’s your week to have the pager or you have it everyday because you are the sole owner. You sit down to relax with dinner in front of you and either your phone goes off, you get a text or the pager is beeping. Your mind has shut down, your body has shut down and the only thing still working is your company. But, part of declaring yourself a 24 hour company is that you never sleep. At least that is what your customers think. They think there is a person just sitting in a running truck waiting for that service call to come in. On the flip side, if it’s a legit call you get paid twice or three times the normal rate.
I’m just going to throw it out there. I absolutely hated being 24 hours. It was great starting out because I was hungry for money, single and I couldn’t wait to get twice my hourly rate. The older you get...NO WAY! Throw in a wife and some kids and a vacation that’s where it starts getting sticky. Your #1 customer calls and you’re on vacation. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TAKING A VACATION! My property has a broken pipe, a backed up sewer or the heater went out. I thought I could depend on you!” I may have lost my best client to my competition just because I wanted to spend time with my family. They don’t rest….why should I rest. I swore after that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever own a 24 hr emergency service company ever again in my life! I could see the future and I didn’t want my business to consume me. I didn’t want my kids to not know who I was. Out of desperation I had do something. Luck has it, I ended up buying another business with employees to take care of the 24 hour emergency service.
The bad side to having employees was almost as frustrating. THEY don’t want to do the after hour calls either! Let the excuses roll!! “I never got the page”, “the beeper died”, “I was at my daughter's birthday party”, “My phone died”, “I had no phone service”, “I don’t have phone service at my house”....sigh. I’m not sure what was worse, doing it myself or getting to rest at night and going to work the next day to deal with pissed off customers.
What I have found to balance work and life was to deal with the pissed off customers. If I want to have that time with my family I had to tighten the reigns at work on my employees. Some quit, some were fired. That is life and I had to deal with it. I had to shorten my days so I could be home by 5pm most nights. The other counter balance was that I was close enough for my wife to bring the kids to the office and hang out on slower days. Weekends were nearly 100% free. Vacations were uninterrupted and I found out interestingly enough that if you have an office manager or secretary and you take a vacation that they try to prove to you that while you are on vacation that they can run the business without you. When I would call in, it was “not much going on, just the same old thing”. I may have had a few messages and I tried to run the business the least I could while on vacation. But I think any business man will tell you that you don’t neglect your business for 1 day on the goings on of the day.
The hard facts were that employees do give you the free time you need to spend time with family. Making the transition was the hardest part. It wasn’t a scary moment, more along the lines of not knowing what type of employees I would be getting to take care of the business I worked so hard to build up. Also, depending on your religious beliefs sundays were very important for me and I would do everything in my power to push the emergency till Monday, sometimes at the risk of losing business. I had to stand firm on what I believed in. It’s a tough decision and making the decision between work and home will be dependent on the type of person and situation you are in.
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