It’s easy to work yourself into exhaustion. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can fall into the trap of being efficient without being effective. When you’re efficient but not effective, you’re good at doing something wrong. For example, you can use a template to build your website. The process is efficient because you don’t have to do the coding yourself. But if the site is difficult to navigate or has broken links, site visitors will leave. Then it’s not effective. If you find yourself working to exhaustion and still not getting everything done, your long hours are not effective. Here’s how you can avoid the efficiency trap and learn to work effectively.
The Efficiency Trap
Just because you do something well—that is, efficiently—doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most productive activity to speed up growth for your business. But you feel good because you are able to do the task well.
As a home inspection entrepreneur, you hear messages all the time about becoming efficient to make your business run well. It may feel counterintuitive to think that being effective is really the answer.
The goal for your business is to sort the tasks that are most important for growth. Just because you can do a task well doesn’t mean that doing it is the most effective way to grow your business. And, just because you do a task well doesn’t mean that is where you should focus all of your time and energy.
Effectiveness for the Win
To manage your business effectively, you need to gather insights about your work and determine which tasks actually focus on business growth. Once you learn the process and put it into action, you’ll continue to improve your effectiveness.
Running an entrepreneurial enterprise is work. Less is more. Start by identifying one or two outcomes you want to achieve. Examine the activities you are doing right now to achieve those results. Make a list.
Now, identify activities from the list that get the best results. You will want to focus your attention and activities on actions that get the best results.
Let go of the other activities that crowd your work week. Merge basic tasks into weekly or monthly time slots to get them done. Then spend the bulk of your time focused on the activities that get results.
Set the Right Boundaries
Once you identify the most productive activities—that is, the ones that bring in money—then it’s time to set boundaries around your work schedule. Set boundaries around your time, schedule, personal contacts and replies. Setting these limits will help you stay in control of your business and create the most effective use of your time.
Best Way to Contact You
You can also improve your effectiveness by setting boundaries with your clients. State your contact preferences on your website. For instance, your contact form may offer several ways to get in touch with you—by email, phone or text. Although you want to make contacting you easy for your clients, you also may have a preference for how you want to receive requests. Maybe you prefer phone messages. You may not answer the phone when you’re grubbing around in a crawl space, but your answering service collects all the messages. Set aside a time each day to answer contact requests to schedule inspections.
You can state your preference on the contact page. Just spell it out.
- At ABC Inspections, we respond first to email contacts.
- Reach me immediately with a text.
Clients, both real estate professionals and property owners, now understand the best way to get a response from you.
Know When You Are Available
Consider setting firm boundaries for when you are available for inspections. Are you available for inspections seven days a week? Do you work after 6 pm? Do you set aside time to write reports? You may be great at performing inspections, but not at stewarding your time.
Clients understand limits. Your physician isn’t available seven days a week—your physician is a professional. Help your clients to view you as a professional who also has limited availability. It doesn’t take long in this business to discover that clients will make all sorts of unreasonable demands. They will call at 6 am and at 10 pm, but you don’t need to answer the phone at all of those hours. New clients may want an inspection tomorrow, but you may already be booked for the day.
Saying “no” saves you emotional energy. If a client really needs to have an inspection tomorrow and you’re already booked, be professional and refer them to another inspector. You build good will on both sides, while maintaining your own professionalism.
Set your availability for on-site work and then stick to it. Post the hours you are available for inspections. If you don’t work on the weekends, but a client requests a weekend inspection, you have two choices: Say no and refer the client to another inspector or charge a “weekend or after-hours fee” in addition to your standard fee.
Who Do You Want at the Inspection?
When a client attends an inspection, it helps to explain your findings and recommendations in person. But sometimes, a real estate professional who wants to attend or who calls three times while you are performing the inspection can disrupt your flow. Let the agent know you are working with the client and tell them when you will send your report. Or ask them to call back when the inspection is over to get a brief review of the major findings. You are the professional; you set the limits.
Be Clear and State Your Limits Up Front
Go on record on your website with your business hours, availability and contact preferences. You’ll reduce burnout, frustration and that sense of “overwhelm.” You’ll give yourself time to prepare reports, update your website, make business connections, and spend time with family and friends.
Listing your company with Inspect.com is an efficient and effective way to reach customers. Your listing includes your phone number and a direct link to your website. We understand the importance of getting the right information to prospective clients.