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Help loosing my Motivation

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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:52 pm

Help loosing my Motivation

We've been doing OK lately, turnover & profits are up on the same period last year. We've done 3-4 larger sign jobs that helps enormously, and where we're looking to go as a company.

That's all very good, but with one customer pushing the deadlines to the limit, the stress and agro, then their client rejecting part of the job, stress levels were rather high.

The other bigger jobs have run on longer than planned, but part of the learning curve.

Then we find ourselves like this week where it feels a little flat, nothing meaty to get stuck into, smaller jobs we make reasonable amounts on, and the same old last minute customes and rushing jobs through, causing more stress.

As a result I've lost my enthusiasm, and something needs to change, and I'm thinking to start with:

• Stop doing urgent jobs because of the customers disorganisation
• Start charging a premium for express services
• Make to-do lists for each day.
• Finish price & Sign guides

Anyone else suffered with loosing their groove, and any tips on how to get back on track?
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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:47 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

A cold shower at 4.30am every morning normally kicks all my senses into gear just before a session in the gym! Remember to tell yourself how great you are and that these flat periods are not here to stay these will pass and before you know it you will be proper busy again!
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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:11 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I would say I've been getting those feelings, to much work and not enough hours to do it all! It's really dawned on me the last few weeks, no matter how hard and how long I work, I will never catch up, the job list just keeps growing quicker than I can handle! Which has finally pushed me today towards making steps to taking on extra staff!
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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:04 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I think that what you are feeling is a common thing amongst almost EVERY self-employed person, or anyone who owns their own business. But only if you have integrity, or a conscience.

While you are the sole 'trader', or the owner of your own business, you can take the delight and pat yourself on the back for every success that comes along. Unfortunately, you also have to ultimately bear the brunt of anything that goes wrong.

Most self-employed people are strong characters. Admittedly, there are a lot of rogue traders who think this is the easy way of life. But they normally get exposed/arrested, or they get bad reps and lose business to the point that they have to close down. Where they normally change their business name and start all over again.

But the majority of us are hard working and have integrity. But one of our biggest failings is that we care about what we do. We want to produce a good job to the best of our ability. But, unfortunately, there are people the world over that recognise these traits and then try to take advantage of them.
They ask for things to be completed by a certain deadline and then change things at the last minute, but blame us if if we don't meet that original deadline. And then have the bare-faced cheek to ask for a discount because the order was late.
Or they ask us to price a job and then, in very small increments, add things or small changes to the original job. But not one or two, but six or seven. And not a quick change of colour to a font, but a change of image (that they don't have a hi-res copy of) and you are then required to scour through endless images, trying to find one that matches and is not open to legal action if you use it.
Or they change the dimensions of what they want (normally larger) but expect to be supplied with the same number of items at the original price.
Or they decide they want it on different materials, but expect to be supplied with the same number of items at the original price.
Or they want... more and more and more, but at the same price.

The difficulty for a sole-trader, or small business is that we are scared to turn away jobs, or be hard faced in negotiations, because we might need the work, or just don't want to lose the work, or we just need the money at that moment in time.

But, in my experience, we take on more jobs than we should that either end up being at cost, or even at a loss. Either because they complain about some 'perceived' flaw and use it as an excuse to make us reproduce a replacement/duplicate, or we actually do make mistakes because we're trying to reach some totally unreasonable deadline that we allowed THEM to set for us. Because we wanted to help out.

The best thing that I ever did was take on the attitude that If I lost a job (because I decided not to bother to 'haggle' over a price I gave them, or because they wanted something within a timescale I wasn't happy with trying to achieve), I just thought of it as money that I never actually had in the first place.

We have to bear in mind that we are providing something that they want FROM US. Not the other way around. We didn't go to them asking them (cap in hand) to give us their business. They came to us asking if we could do something for them.

It goes along the same lines as the thread about people saying 'I can get that done cheaper down the road'. Yes, they possibly can. But then they end up with logos/stickers in their windows that nobody can actually see or read. They get a crap service at a cheap price. And the people who sold them those crap products have already washed their hands of the whole thing and are quite comfortably sleeping in their beds, while we lay awake stressing about how the customer thinks of us.

Okay, rant over... :blushing:
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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:15 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

List is good idea. I just go round in circles without one.

I find little personal things to work on help keep the buzz going. I've just had the idea of creating a wee printed folder for vehicles as a kind of thank for choosing us/how to look after your van now it's sign written sort of thing. I suppose just like the folder you would get with a new car. Maybe I'll chuck a wee discount code. But I can picture the cover and looking forward to designing it and ordering it in. Give us a nice wee finishing touch when handing the keys back.
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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:16 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

rush jobs we charge a hefty premium, to make it worth while. We do not take on those jobs that have a unreasonable deadline. Because you just know the supplier will (oh i swore !) up or they will send thevwrong thing. It's just not worth the aggro imo

Sometimes work gets in the way of new ideas, expanding etc. We have an easy Friday late afternoon, to wind down and chat about the week just gone and what went wrong or what we should have done et .
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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:09 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I find taking a weeks holiday now and again helps. You come back fully refreshed and full of enthusiasm...at least for the first day or so...
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Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:16 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

David, I know exactly what you mean, I'm a bit the same, although my problem seems to be working alone slows me down. I've got work coming out my ears but don't seem to be making any money. A lot of that is down to the time it takes to do a job is longer because it's just me so by the time I get paid all the bills are due and before I know it that nice wee bank account is empty, really gets me down and I end up thinking what's the point? And the motivation goes. Past couple of weeks have been better as my stepson has been home and he's been helping, he's a great worker and I've been amazed at the work we've got through. He's away back to France now though so again it's just me. I know this is just a mind set but it's a hard one to break. It's really easy for folk to say just employ someone but I keep thinking where do I find the money for that so end up going round in circles. I've been self employed since I was 22..I'm now 40 and in all that time I honestly feel like I've just been winging it the whole time. I must be doing something right though as most of the time the bills get paid and I'm not in jail for owing thousands to the tax man lol. I think I just struggle keeping everything positive and always look at the negatives even if the positives do outway them. A wee tip I try to use is at the end of every day instead of thinking about everything that went wrong try and focus on maybe that one thing that went right no matter how small.
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Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:13 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

Glad it's not just me!

We're going to slow things down a little, and stop the rushing, as we really don't get paid enough for the stress & agro, plus things tend to go wrong when we start rushing, a premium will be applied to deter customers, or at least make it worthwhile for us to do it.

Making some tweaks to how we handle things to minimise errors, as they never help with stress levels.

Even the basic things like proofing everything before we produce it. Just recutting some etch vinyl where the customer supplied artwork, but never specified it was to reverse cut :bangshead:
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Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:50 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

Got a call on my mobile at 6, customer asking if we can produce and fit some window vinyl tomorrow morning. :rollseyes:
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Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:04 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

4pm, taxi customer wanting his name for the door as its booked in for a test 10am tomorrow.... So these test just get sprung upon you, I don't think so, you know when it's coming up so plan ahead.

Quoted £25 he nearly fell on the floor, I only paid £10 last time and walked out,

4.55pm he walked in and said go for it,... Sorry I said we are closing now all the computers have been turned off.

He paid £30 to get it done Pmsl.
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Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:23 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

Hahaha brilliant!

Do you have minimum order totals? I'm thinking £25+VAT

Also adding incremental % the shorter the notice they need it.
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Post Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:00 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I've recently started charging +20% hourly rate for Saturdays and evenings. Could've gone to Devon last weekend but felt the £400 for two vans was more important.. vans didn't show. This long time customer will now be pro forma all the way.. assuming I don't throw his vinyl in the bin and sack him.

Being self employed isn't easy, ups n downs, good customers and bad, I often think about selling up!
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Post Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:48 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

Denise Goodfellow wrote:Sometimes work gets in the way of new ideas, expanding etc. We have an easy Friday late afternoon, to wind down and chat about the week just gone and what went wrong or what we should have done et .


That is a fantastic idea Denise... :thumbsup: I'm going to try and implement that in our business. It's so important to make time to develop the business. It could be one idea from the team that could transform the way you do something or change the way your business is going for the better.

We do something similar periodically, but making it happen once a week enables you to capture processes and such like that need to be improved. Not to mention the new products that you could develop or the next marketing campaign!

When we have done these in the past, we have a whiteboard wall and everyone in the team has input into the brainstorming session!

Just make sure you include everyone involved in your business and encourage everyone to bring ideas to the table.

So I echo what Denise says... Although it can sometimes be hard, make time to work on the business and get creative, it wont be long before the enthusiasm kicks in.
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Post Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:37 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I've recently been looking at a few videos on the internet to do with lean manufacturing.

I came across this guy that uses lean in his business and gets the staff to make a 2 second improvement to the process they are doing everyday. which in turn gives a long-term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality.

His moto is fix what bugs you. Which I thought was quite a good saying haha.

I like the idea but I think there is a happy medium as I know that these type of things can go to far. But on the other hand if your not engaged enough they don't even get of the ground.

My 2p Worth :smiles:

Graeme
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Post Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:00 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I like to have set ways of dealing with things.

I get irritated when jobs are started before a price is agreed, as there's nothing worse than a customer quibbling over price once it's started. I like having a set routine for most things, which makes things run smoother.

Sometimes the wheels do come of the cart, and that goes out the window, and all chaos happens. :blushing:
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Post Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:30 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

yeah if you look into lean manufacturing.

The 2 second idea is a way of improving the processes but you are also suppose to make things as simple ans safe as possible.

if they have a process they document it colour code it put instruction on the machines etc so the idea is that anyone can walk up to the machine as carryout the operation the same way as other people do it.

have a look at this video it kinda explains the idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z38Zo76KmO0&t=515s

Graeme
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Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:46 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I find how you spend your time away from the workshop during your time off can be a great motivator. This year, I’ll have had two holidays abroad and a long weekend away with my family. Spaced out roughly every three months it gives me a great opportunity to recharge the batteries. I also don’t do ridiculous deadlines and close up shop at 6pm regardless who or what’s required. That’s family time for me
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Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I think the ridiculous deadlines is the root of a few problems which are being addressed... going home stressed, and stressing about the next day isn't really fair on the other half.

As a general rule we do manage to stick to 'working' between 8-4 Monday-Friday, although last night I was catching up on admin, but sat in front of the TV.

I've come in this morning and started blitzing the place as there's stuff all over the place, so taking time out to get back organised.
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Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:24 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

My 2 cents worth after 10 years since starting in this game on my own is "it will pay off". You have to be willing to work extra hard, extra hours and extra stress otherwise you should just work for somebody and earn your wage. I started on my own and now there is 8 of us. I can finally spend extra time with my family with more holidays, go to all the school events and treat them to some afternoon treats when ever I want. I couldn't have this if I didn't put in the extra effort to get the business there. To keep myself motivated I 1) always try new things or expand in to new areas to increase your offerings or what you do in house, this keeps your mind busy while at the office, and 2) think of everything you have and could have because you work for yourself and what you would lose by being an employee, this helps me keep focus and continue enjoying this game
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Post Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:57 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I do that Warren, sun's out, shutter's down, bicycle is out :lol:

Trouble is we're not charging enough for the extra stress, these urgent jobs demand! Like tonight, customer wants a 2x2m acrylic sign, produced and fitted for Tuesday :lol: (we've got a £2k job to install Tuesday already)

I could do it, but is it worth it? I don't think they'll pay what it's worth...
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Post Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:09 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

You should be use to stress David from your time in the RN :lol:

Seriously, if you are going to do rush jobs then you need to charge accordingly, do these Customers NEED the job for a particular date or do they WANT then for a particular date ? I thing I learned was that there was a big difference between the two. If you have a good reputation for getting the job done then customers will pay the extra if a deadline has to be met, after all where else are they going to get the job done at short notice?
When I was working full time a lot of customers would tell me that a job was needed for a particular date, when you told them you couldn't manage that miraculously the date changed to when I could manage :lol:
None of my regular customers looked else where when I couldn't do a job at short notice & very few first time customers did either.
If there was a genuine reason why the job had to be completed for a certain date then I would make exceptions & work extra to fit it in, I never charged extra for that but I should have done. If the customer had known that I would charge extra if they gave me a ridiculous deadline then it might have encouraged them to plan things better :lol: :lol:
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Post Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:32 pm

Re: Help loosing my Motivation

I've a few longer term things I need to plan for with the business, such as my old man retiring.

Next week, I've the install Tuesday, Van in Wednesday, two returning customers, 1 with 3 vans to do, and 1 with 1 van, so we've stuff to be doing, without the throwing in those pesky rush jobs... we'll start charging more for them, and see if they want, or need it for then. :thumbsup: I don't think it'll have an adverse effect.

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