June 26

How To Handle The Stress Of A Growing Service Business




The most common stressors of a growing service business and the practical ways to handle them.

  • Why you need to get rid of problematic employees.
  • Avoiding the negative effects of bad reviews.
  • How seperating your business / personal email benefits your sanity.
  • How to use email scheduling so you can get more done after hours, and deliver them at the optimal time.
  • How systems and processes make your business run smoother.
  • Why you need to focus on limited target services and how that will boost your bottom line.

One thing we all know about, unfortunately, way all too well, is stress.

We’ve all been there.

We know how stressful these businesses are.

I say these businesses – I’m talking about service businesses, contracting businesses.

You know, we’re sending guys out in the field into somebody else ’s home to do the work. They’re extremely stressful.

I’ve been there myself.

And even though I’ve got quite a full a head of hair up there right now, it’s a lot thinner than it used to be.

It used some real thick straggly hair and these days it’s getting thin.

And at 28, there’s a few grays poken through.

No doubt, that’s certainly the result of owning a service business.

I remember, you know, days, evenings, hunched over my desk.

You know, just kind of staring at what would be my desk, or into the wall staring at nothingness and just scratching my hair and pulling it all out literally and seeing hair all across  my keyboard.

Kind of rather disgusting visual but that’s the kind of stress that the business brought on.

You know, I’d go to sleep in the evenings.

You’d lay in bed.

You wouldn’t be able to fall asleep.

And then, you would fall asleep.

And you’d wake up.

And you’d be having a dream or you’d recall a dream, I should say, when you wake up you’d recall a dream where you are actually working and dealing with these problems in your dream.

How painful is that?

You can’t even go to sleep without dealing with your problems.

I’ve had that stuff.

I’ve been there.

You know, I’ve had the delinquent employees.

Employees that just weren’t punctual, didn’t show up, didn’t care, didn’t treat the customers with respect.

And ultimately that stuff just led to headaches and then that stuff would come back to reviews and other problems and stuff like that.

Dealt with the calendar being behind.

You know, you get some employees who don’t show up.

You pair that up with some bad weather and now nothing is going well.

Your calendar falls behind.

Falls further behind.

Your customers are disgruntled because it’s taking them longer than they have already anticipated.

Mind you, you know, you can condition your customers to the schedule but if you tell your customer four weeks, they are generally hearing three weeks in their head.

Now you’re, you know, compiling that up.

You’re driving it out further.

A) It’s bad for business.

B) It’s stressful ‘cause you take this stuff personally.

You know, as a small business owner, as a business owner of a service business, it’s your name out there.

You know, your name, the goodwill of your name affects your business positively or negatively down the road.

So, it gets stressful and you let this stuff get you.

So, what can you do?

How can you handle it?

First thing: If you’re really having problems, downsize.

Let go of problematic employees or employees that are not adding any value.

So, it kind of works two-fold.

You know, if you’ve got employees that are extremely problematic, let go of them.

You’re going to fall behind on the calendar and scheduling but in that case, you know, you might have to refund some customers or see if they’re fine with, you know, fine with waiting.

It’s not easy giving people their money back.

It’s not easy canceling projects.

Unfortunately, you do have to do it because your sanity is worth it.

It is not worth, you know, losing your sleep, life, your family time, over a business.

Let me tell you that. If that’s going to be the case, you might as well just look into getting a job somewhere where you can just work 9-5 and forget about it and not have any headaches.

And have a weekend where you can enjoy your time.

I’ve had weekends where it’s just like, you know, I’m kind of pulling my hair out or thinking about all the problems I’m going to have to deal with on Monday.

Or wanting to deal with the problems because they never really seem to go away and I’ve got to keep working through them.

You know, obviously you’re going to have to do some of that but if you can minimize it, it’s much, much better.

Much better.

You’re going to have a much easier life, much smoother business.

And trust me, it is not worth, you know, contributing all those hours to your business contrary to whatever business guru tells you.

Don’t and you should not work all the time.

So, let go of all the problematic employees.

Ones that are not adding value to the company.

The ones that are creating a negative work environment, the ones that are giving you all the headaches and not being respectful to your customers.

You have to let them go.

Or you’ll might be like, “Oh, just going to put me further in the pickle.”

You know as I’ve just described, now I’ve got unhappy customers, you almost just have to bite the bullet, dive in, and say “This is the end of the road. I’m getting rid of problematic employees.

The ones that cause some problems.

The ones that have no future.

The ones that I would rather not have working for me.

I’m getting rid of them.

I’m going to deal with these problems now, catch the schedule up, and rebuild.”

Once you do that, once you get rid of the problematic employees, you are halfway home to running a smooth business.

With that, don’t take negative reviews to heart.

I know when I first started the company and early on, we’d get negative reviews and, I mean, I would literally kind of lose sleep thinking about these.

“Why did we get a negative review?”

“How can these customers say this when we’ve done this, and this, and this?”

A lot of times you go over and above for a customer and sometimes, you still get a negative review.

That’s just the name of the game, you know.

There’s no way around it.

You’re going to get it.

You have to learn to live with it.

You have to look at them systematically.

Obviously, you should start building reviews and you have a proactive approach so when you get one or two negative reviews it doesn’t hurt you.

But go back.

Read the reviews.

Figure out what’s at the cause of the problem.

What’s the root cause of these problems and systematically look to ways to improve it.

Look at the bad review just as feedback.

One bad review, two bad reviews are not going to hurt or harm your business in the long run.

So look at them.

“What can we do to avoid these types of reviews in the future?”

Really dig. Just don’t take the reviews to heart.

Don’t take them personally.

Now, if you’ve dealt with customers like you should have in this business, you’ve certainly got any emails.




And emails always come in at the wrong time.

I got to tell you.

You can open your emails up 9:30 PM.

You’re trying and get ready for bed.

Trying to get some family time, some quiet time.

You glance at an email on your phone or what’s there — customer email… with a problem.

You need to, need to, get your business emails out of your personal emails so that when you pick up your phone and you look at your phone, you’re not going to see customers, the suppliers, the invoices.

Whatever it is, separate the business stuff.

When you’re done with business, you’re done with business.

Get the business emails out of the personal email.

Have two separate emails.

In that way, you’re not constantly bombarded with work stuff, business stuff, customers, problems, etc.

Now, that said, there will be times when you’re going to answer emails after hours – outside of business hours.

For those, I recommend using email scheduling.

So, let’s just say that it’s 8:00 PM, 8:30 PM.

And you’re working some dedicated time which I do.

I do work in the evenings as much as I say.

I like to get rid of the stress and work specific hours and yadda, yadda, yadda.

I do work into the evenings. Let’s say I’m handling quote for a customer.

Customer is having some follow up questions.

Well, what could I do?

I could type up the email and send it right then but then I’m going to send that email and customer ‘s going to reply in 10 minutes before I get off from my desk.

And then I’m going to feel obligated to reply.

You know if I don’t reply at that point, then it’s like, I’m thinking about, “what am I going to say the next day?”.

So, I do like to take care of things quickly as they come in.

But with the emails, what I’ll do is I use an app called Boomerang and schedule it to send later. If I’m not at my desk answering emails at 8:00 o’clock, type up that response, let the customer know what needs to be said.

Type out what the customer needs to hear or whomever employee or vendor, whoever I’m dealing with at that point, and then schedule it in the morning.

So, it’s two-fold. Number 1.

It obviously prevents the message from going through that evening where you’re going to get a quick reply and you’ll feel obligated to continue this messaging thread outside of business hours but it also makes you look highly professional.

I find that it looks much more professional if you are sending this email at 6:30 AM as opposed to 8:30 PM.

Now you’re not actually sending it at 6:30 AM or you are not physically pressing the button but you’re using a 3rd party app Boomerang.

Works with Gmail.

You’re using that app to schedule to send it at 6:30. So, the customer’s wake right up, you know, 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM whenever they get up and check their email and they go, “Wow! This guy’s on top of it.

He already replied.”

There’s something about that early- in-the-morning thing that most people, you know,  things look more professional.

I totally disagreed with it.

If I didn’t know the service business, I’d be naturally a night owl.

Customers and other professional connections like that early-in-the-morning thing.

This also works in another way.

I’ll tell you about it. Let’s say you got to email your, let’s say, you got to email the building department, right?  

So, you’d email the building department about a permit.

Some kind of stuff like that.

When’s the best time to deliver it to him? Well, think about this.

Which emails do you get to first?

Now, there’s a pattern that we all kind of work through when we open up our emails.

We generally go through and respond to the ones that just came in.

So, when we get to our desk in the morning, “which ones just came in”?

Reply to those quickly.

Then we go back to reply to the ones, you know,  are easy to reply to but came in a while ago. Easy to reply to but came in a while ago.

And then at some point, you’ll get to the ones in the middle.

So, based on that, the best time you can get an email to someone who’s right there first thing when they’re sitting down at the desk.

And think about how you respond to emails which I’m sure you’ll respond in the same way. Ones that just came in when you first get to your desk, you’re going to reply to them.

So, deliver your emails.

Schedule your emails to be delivered right there when somebody’s getting to the desk.

If you know, Jane, at the building department gets in at 8:00 AM schedule out messages at 7:55 so that when she first opens up her work email, it’s the first thing she has to look at.

Alright. So, email scheduling – use that to your advantage.

Let’s go back to the employees. Once you, you know, get rid of your problematic employees, you have to restaff.

You need to implement some processes and systems.

Don’t overlook this.

Everything needs to systematized and processed.

So, look to what you’ve already got and literally right down your processes.

You’ve already got systems.

You just don’t know about them.

You just don’t know to follow them.

You need to document them.

Get them on paper and follow them.

Everything that comes in has a system and a process, and then you keep repeating it.

The the whole key to having a scalable business.

That’s a major key to having less stress.

So that way, no matter what happens, there’s already a flow that can be used for troubleshooting it and getting on with the next step and getting work completed.

There’s nothing like having your guys, “Oh, I don’t know. Wait around”, because they don’t have the right materials.

What can you do? You can implement a process or checklist in this case, which would be a step in the process to have that material checked before your guys get sent out to the project.

You don’t have any waiting around because the longer your guys sit around and wait in trucks, the costly they are.

You know, I always say, I always say, “The most expensive cost or the biggest cost you’ll have as a service business owner is your labor.”

Don’t overlook labor.

Don’t forget about it.

Everyone wants to nitpick where they can save money like office supplies and coffee.

But if you’ve got two guys sitting in your truck waiting an hour because they don’t have the right material and they can’t find where to get it; they don’t know if they need to go to Home Depot, Lowe’s supply house, or if they head back to the shop and get it from there.

Having them sit around and wait on answers to those solutions, or answers to those problems, waiting on a solution, is costly.

I  mean think about it.

You have two guys on a truck with workers’ comp and payroll taxes in my company, that’s probably running me about $600 a day.

Doing a math on that, what is it, it’s going to be $100-$ 150.

Plus you’ve got, you know, momentum lost with that project.

So, you’ve got some opportunity cost in there — $150 because they don’t have materials.

They don’t know what to do when they can’t find it.

There needs to be a process and a system for that so that when these situations are largely avoided.

Buf if and when they do come up, everyone knows what to do.

Now, with the processes and systems, I’d like to say focus on target services.

Keep your scope of work relatively concise.

Don’t be taking every type of projects under the sun because you can’t do those systematically. You can’t do those efficiently.

Your guys are going to get used to one type of service.

Focus on that or some very closely related group of services and drive those home.



Sell on those and cut out on things that are inefficient. In that way, it’s easier to create processes and systems because you don’t such a wide array.

Let’s face it.

We can’t do all things.

We can’t be all things.

And we can’t get everything done efficiently.

You might be able to, you know, do it yourself if it’s your own project.

It’s just you and your helper.

If you’re trying to grow a business, you got to stick to a limited scope of services so that you can get efficiently and quickly.

Target services — pick them and focus on doing those as efficiently as possible.

So, those are a few tips to help get the stress out of your hair.

The really big ones that I find:

A) Getting rid of the problematic employees; building up good employees.

Don’t take the reviews to heart.

Separate those business and personal emails.

And implement systems and processes while focusing on target services.

You do all that, you are going to have a less stressful service business.



Management, Operations, Service Business, Small Business

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