Raise your hand if this sounds familiar. You come home from a long day at the shop. Your kids are all over you. They’ve been waiting anxiously for your arrival. Your spouse has dinner on the stove and has a million things to tell you about his or her day. You all sit down for dinner when it happens….
Your cell phone rings. It’s the shop. You ignore it, but they immediately call back. Then they text you that it’s an emergency. You get up from dinner and call them back to learn that a machine isn’t working properly. The parts for one of your biggest customers are coming out inconsistent. To make it worse, you’re up against the customer’s deadline and there’s still a lot of remaining work listed in the job shop software.
Much to the scorn of your spouse, you get back in your car and drive back to the shop. By the time you get the problem solved, dinner is cold, your kids are in bed, and your spouse isn’t talking to you.
Such is life for business owners, right? Actually, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can find a balance between the two. You can’t keep everyone happy all the time, but you can keep both your family and your shop satisfied. And you can do it without driving yourself crazy.
Here are three tips to help you find balance between your shop and your home life:
Accept some hard truths.
When shop owners get frustrated about their family-work life balance, it’s usually for a very simple reason –
They’re trying to do the impossible.
What is impossible? Primarily the idea that you can make both your family and your shop happy at the same time. If you’re trying to please everyone, you’re pleasing no one. There’s no way you can divide time between your family on vacation and your shop over the phone and assume that both parties will walk away satisfied.
The first step to finding balance is to accept the hard truth that you only have so much time to give. You’re not super-human. In most situations, you will have to pick a winner and a loser. Some days the winner may be the shop. Other days it may be your family.
If you can set some clear boundaries, this will be easier. For instance, make it clear to your team that you are only available for the most urgent emergencies when you’re away from the office. Similarly, let your family know that you can’t drop everything at work to assist them. If your family or your team thinks that you’re always available, it’s because you haven’t set clear expectations about your boundaries.
Learn to delegate – at work and at home.
If your shop employees are constantly calling you to solve problems, it’s probably because they don’t have the skills, knowledge, or resources to do the job themselves. That’s on you. If you want them to be more self-reliant, you have to give them the tools and direction necessary to do so.
Invest in your employees and train them to take on more responsibility. Then start delegating work so they can get experience in running the business. The more you delegate, the more competent they’ll become. Before you know it, your shop will run at full steam whether you’re there or not.
Delegation isn’t just for work, though. Your time at home is valuable, too. Think about ways you can delegate housework so you can maximize your quality time with your family. For example, could you hire someone to do lawn care and yard work? What about cleaning the house?
It’s not as crazy as it seems. You probably pay someone to cut your shop’s grass and clean the office, right? You do it because it’s not worth your time to do it yourself. You need to maximize your time in the shop. So why don’t you have to maximize your time in the same way at home?
Simplify through delegation. If you do, you’ll find that life is much easier in the office and at home.
Share your successes with your family.
Ultimately, you may just want your family to be more accepting of your shop’s demands. They’ll likely be more understanding if they see the rewards of all the hard work. Just like you need high employee morale at work, you need high levels of enthusiasm and support at home. If you want them to understand why you have to work long hours, you need them to appreciate the end goal.
Celebrate big wins at work with your family. If you land a big new customer, take the family out to a special dinner and tell them why you’re celebrating. Set a production goal for your team at work and tell your family that you may need to put in some extra hours to reach it. When you reach your goal, take your family away for a fun weekend.
Make them a part of your success. If you do, they’ll be more likely understand, accept, and embrace your hard work.
Balancing machine shop ownership and family life isn’t easy, but it can be done. Implement these three steps and you’ll likely see results. Also, talk honestly with your family and ask them what you can do to improve. They may give you suggestions that you never even considered.
Having a streamlined and organized process can also help you keep both your shop team and your family happy. At Shoptech, we’ve helped thousands of shop owners balance work and family life through the implementation of our E2 shop software system. Contact us today to learn how E2 can help your shop run more smoothly.