Top Toolbar

Do you own a small service business? Do you have a personal “Disaster Plan”?

I calculate that ‘saving three minutes’ once cost me six weeks in a cast, a $8,000.00 insurance deductible and a pretty ticked off wife!  (If you’re into numbers that is $2,666.00 per minute.)

After a frustrating day on the computer (Yep- hard as it may be to believe some times the words just don’t flow!) I thought I’d do a little project in my home workshop.  Got all set up to cut a 2” steel post- step ladder, 4” grinder, safety glasses, hearing protectors, etc.  Gloves?  Naah, won’t need ‘em!

So I climbed up on the ladder, cut ALMOST through the post and then should have reset the ladder to finish the job.  But it would have taken several minutes to clear out the junk below so I just leaned out and BANG!  The grinder stuck in the cut, kicked back and fell to the floor.  It wasn’t till I looked down that I saw my blood was spurting out 6” or so from my right hand every time my heart beat!  Whoa- this wasn’t just a band aid cut!

Of course I was alone- where’s my wallet, cell phone, car keys?  (Ever tried to dial a new smartphone one handed as you drive through the city to the ER?) And by the way, how come my right thumb doesn’t work anymore?  3 hours later, I learned I’d sliced though my extensor tendons and was scheduled for surgery the next day.  And I didn’t really care since I was wafting along on morphine and Percocet!

———–

The following day as Sioux drives me to my surgery I see my old competitor’s van out working.  It made me reflect:  What would I have done if I was still on the truck and with -no notice- could not run a wand for at least six weeks?  What about you?  Do you have a personal ‘Disaster Plan’?

Remember, it just takes one stupid and mindless decision.  (You’ve seen a fine example of this in my above anecdote!)  Or it can just be “a simple twist of fate”! (To channel Bob Dylan!)  Like a whacked out teenager that T-bones your cleaning van at 60 mph?  Or less dramatically you sprain (or break) your ankle tripping over your vacuum hoses!  It happens!

Seriously, right now- reflect on what would you (AND your family!) do you miss the next three weeks of work OR get laid up in traction for the next three months OR get … ‘laid to rest’? It happens!

If you don’t like your options then puhleeease GET MOVING!  Do it today!  For example …

  1. Do you have a liquid “Emergency Fund”?  Most experts say you need six months of living expenses.  If that isn’t attainable do you have at least 3 months?  One month?  Anything? Living hand-to-mouth is never a wise life style.  But a self-employed solo entrepreneur without savings is living in a very dangerous spot!
  2. Have you developed a mutual network of “Strategic Partners”?  These can be reliable and honest competitors (is there such a thing?) that will handle your work while you are laid up and give you a percentage.  Or it can be some friends you have pre-trained to handle some of your jobs.  Anything to keep some cash flow coming in AND even more importantly preserving your client relationships while you are off work.
  3. Take care of yourself.  Maintain a clean work area, slow down,  lift correctly, eat right and work out.  And above all else- move that ladder and handle your grinder with a cutting disk correctly!  Trust me on this one! And of course your best option IF you have “the fire in the belly” is to …
  4. Build a Critical Mass Business! (CMB) That’s right, create a business that will run with you… OR without you. HERE are five steps on HOW to build a CMB! Imagine the wonderful blessing of achieving “Personal Freedom”… and that is exactly what our Strategies for Success Program is all about!

More ideas for the “Lone Wolf” owner-operator?  Just download my free Special Report.

Steve Toburen

PS:  Even if you have a “backup plan”, are you sure your fallback people have your same appreciation for your customers and the relationship you have so carefully crafted over the years …?  !f not, loan them my “Winning on the Home Front” customer service training course!

, , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to Do you own a small service business? Do you have a personal “Disaster Plan”?

  1. BurdicksCleaning July 11, 2011 at 2:30 PM #

    Be well soon, Steve.

    It is a scary thought to wonder what would happen if an owner operator were out of commission. Having a tech to take John’s place and a disability policy gives us some peace of mind, but certainly there are still concerns if he were out of commission. Now that we restructured and I’m part of the LLC and we have a partnership agreement, I’m eligible for disability coverage. Before I wasn’t so if anything happened to me, there would be no compensation for someone to do all the back end stuff I do. Something other “spouse” partnerships should look into. The significant other/wife who does all the bookkeeping, appointment setting etc. really should be on payroll or a partner in the business on paper too so they are eligible for these types of benifits.

  2. Ron Musgrave July 12, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

    Sorry to read about your mishap Steve. It was gracious of you to share it with us. Thank heavens I’m covered if anything should happen to me, but thanks for the good advice. Back in the 70’s a small group of four CCINW members (then RCINW) formed a work sharing relationship whereby if anyone couldn’t work, the others would each take one day a week and cover his schedule, giving him 100% It wasn’t set up dollar for dollar but day by day. It worked very well, I was the only one to take advantage of it for a scheduled surgery. And the nice thing about it we’re still friends.

  3. Steve Toburen July 15, 2011 at 3:05 PM #

    What a great story, Ron. Too many carpet cleaners are (literally) one step away from disaster. My little mishap just put it into focus for me.

    Steve

    PS In fact, I may write on the “Disaster Plan” concept for my next ICS column!

  4. Carpet Cleaning Fargo March 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM #

    Thanks Steve, will definitely take these questions into consideration. I see myself trying to always cut 2 minutes off but will think twice from now on.

  5. Steve Toburen March 3, 2012 at 8:22 AM #

    Yep. “Haste makes waste” and all that. Now I just need to take my own advice! Turned around too fast on the ladder leading up to the attic storage area over my garage yesterday and had enough time falling to think, “Is this going to be IT”!

    All I wanted to do with this post is get people (and especially Lone Wolf solo operators) to THINK! Thanks for reading …

    Steve

Leave a Reply