By Jim Armstrong Recently, I worked with a floor dealer whom I’ll call Jared. Jared has two successful flooring stores, a large staff and is making a very good personal income. He was also working 10 to 12 hours per day, six or seven days per week. He spent the majority of his days running around doing “urgent” busy work: answering calls, responding to emails, answering questions and putting out fires. Over time, stress built up, and he found himself snapping at his staff over small things—something he’d never done before. Even though his business was successful financially, he felt like he was working for it instead of the other way around.
An important exercise I had him do right away was the One Week Task Journal. I’ve taken many dealers through this and it has helped them to quickly see where they are spending their time, identify inefficiencies and effectively delegate. I had Jared carry a journal with him for one week while he was at work. He set the alarm on his smartphone to go off every hour, and when it went off, he would write down exactly what he had done the previous hour. This could include answering emails, returning calls, working the showroom floor, etc. He did this every day for a week.
At the end of the week, I had him highlight the different task categories with different colors. When he was done, large areas of pink and blue jumped off the page. It turned out he was spending 10-15 hours per week returning calls, and 20 hours per week working the showroom floor. This meant that if we delegated the phone calls and the showroom work, he would free up 30 to 35 hours per week.
We tackled the phones first. After asking him some probing questions, it turned out that he was giving all his customers his direct number on his business card. In addition, when someone called the store wanting to speak with him, his staff would automatically forward the call to him. The staff also had a bad habit of calling or texting him the minute they had a question instead of first trying to figure it out for themselves. This resulted in him getting a steady barrage of calls and texts all day long.
So, I had him order new business cards that had the store’s main number so customers were no longer calling him directly. I also had him train his staff to do the following:
- Instead of automatically forwarding a call to Jared, they would first try to handle the issue themselves. Most of the time they were able to.
- If it was absolutely necessary for the caller to speak with Jared, they would schedule a phone appointment during Jared’s daily call-back time.
- If a staff member had a question, instead of calling or texting Jared, they were trained to follow a process and a chain of command for getting an answer.
Once that process was started, I then had him promote one of his salespeople to take over his showroom duties. Within 90 days, he was no longer working weekends, he was down to a 45-hour workweek and his stress levels had dropped significantly. He was spending the majority of his time working on his business rather than putting out fires. He was much happier, and so was his staff.
If you want to quickly free up a day a week, I highly recommend that you go through the One Week Task Journal exercise. It just might change your life.
Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information, visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.