BALANCING A LIFE IN SERVICE WITH YOUR FAMILY LIFE
By Charlie "Tec Daddy" Greer
I recently received an e-mail that struck an emotional chord within me. I waited several days to respond and, when I did, I took a half-day writing the response. I’ll protect the privacy of this individual. I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing this edited version of our correspondence with you, because I believe many reading this will see something of themselves in it and it may improve the lives of some of our colleagues and their families. Here’s what he wrote:
"First of all, I would like to tell you we purchased Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD and so far they have been awesome!"
"I've got a question for you. I have read many articles of yours about working techs too hard and forced overtime and so forth, but what is the alternative? I don't know of any highly successful service companies who run an 8-5 shop."
"Being in the position that I am in, working in the office and running service and sales calls, I would love to spend more time with my family, however, I love my job. I love running calls, but 60-80 hour weeks and working almost every Saturday and a few Sundays and not seeing my kids in the summer can really wear on a guy. I just don't know what the alternative is. Can you help me Tec Daddy?"
Here was my response:
The answers to your questions are in the questions themselves.
You said: I have read many articles of yours about working techs too hard and forced overtime and so forth, but what is the alternative?
My response: Not working forced overtime.
You said: I don't know of any highly successful service companies who run an 8-5 shop.
My response: Here's an idea--do what everyone else is doing! That is, if you want to end up like the majority of the contractors out there--worked half to death, divorced, bitter, feeling powerless and setting a poor example of the tremendous potential of a career in this business (and consequently chase much needed new talent away from our industry).
My very extensive client list is full of companies that don't work their techs much, if any, more than 2,000 hours per year. By the way, service agreements and doing really good maintenance for your service agreement customers goes a long way toward managing your workload.
You said: Being in a position that I am in, working in the office and running service and sales calls, I would love to spend more time with my family, however, I love my job. I love running calls, but 60-80 hour weeks and working almost every Saturday and a few Sundays and not seeing my kids in the summer can really wear on a guy. I just don't know what the alternative is.
My response: You're killin' me. First you said you'd love to spend more time with your family, then you said you love your job, then you said that not seeing your kids is wearing on you. You're all over the place. You don't know what you want You don't need Tec Daddy, you need Dr. Phil.
If you've got so much work that you're working 60-80 hours per week, you're taking on more work than you can do, and that's just plain wrong.
You're sacrificing time with your family for what? Is it the money? Raise your rates. If you actually are working 60-80 hours per week, you should be charging exactly double what you're charging now. See if that doesn't lighten your work load.
Tell me again, who is forcing you to spend time away from your family? Ever heard of the word, "no?" This is why I say that most people in our industry were born with a birth defect--no backbone. Someone calls and demands you or one of your techs show up at their door, so you do, whether you want to or not. Has it occurred to you that you are under no obligation to so much as pick up the phone if you don't feel like it?
Take control of your life! Control is not handed to you as a gift. You take it or you lose it. Currently, you're under the "lost it" category. Get it back.
Where is it written that you must sacrifice your family life for your career?
Every aspect of your life is a result of the decisions you make today. You keep sacrificing family time for work, and you'll be sorry. Very sorry. For a very long time. You're making some very poor decisions and you're on the road to becoming a very lonely old man, full of regrets.
Be a good parent. Why have kids if you're not going to be a part of their lives?
Get mad at me and prove to me you can do the right thing just to spite me.
Show this letter to your wife and you can both sit around and talk about what a jerk I am.
Raise your rates.
Learn how to say "no" when people demand you work more than, let's say 10 hours in any single day and 48 hours in any single week.
And please don't give me the old, what about the dire needs of the pregnant woman without heat or air or the elderly woman story. First of all, you're not the last technician on the face of the earth, and you can't take care of absolutely everyone who calls. The phone book is thick with people who'll take care of the people you don't.
I'll go to my grave wondering why we are so worried about the needs of everyone but our own, our techs and those of our families. Someone going without heat or air overnight is nothing compared to our wives and our children going most of their lives without their husbands and fathers. Now let's throw your personal feelings of guilt into the mix. Take if from me, if you feel guilty now, give it about twenty-five or forty years.
You said: Can you help me Tec Daddy?
No, I can't. You've got some decisions to make. I hate to chew out a supporter, but I hoped I've ticked you off. Emotion provokes action. Do the right thing. Remember your priorities. I'm on your side. I wish you all the best.
Thank you for your continued support.
Yours for increased success,