when “now” isn’t fast enough…


July 4, 2015 was a Saturday.  It’s was also a National Holiday.  A lot people in the U.S. took that holiday weekend as a long weekend, including me.  I don’t take a lot of days off and I rarely am gone for more than 2 days.  But I took off July 3 – 4 – 5.

On July 3rd a phone message was left by a woman who wanted information on our moving services.  On July 4th she left another message  on my office phone, and on my cell phone, admonishing me for not returning her call.  “What kind of a business are you running that you don’t return phone calls?”  On Sunday, July 5th I called her number and got her voicemail.  I left a message that I was out of the office until Monday, July 6th and that my work calendar was full and I would not be able to assist her with her move.

My phones start ringing at 5:30am and I’ve gotten calls as late as 11:30pm.   With 2 phones, it’s a challenge keeping up with calls.  I have a strict policy of not answering my cell phone while I am on a job with a client.  I feel my phone “buzzing” in my pocket all day. I give up a lot of business not returning a phone call within MINUTES of a message being left, “oh, I already hired someone.” 5 minutes after they left a message for me.

Then there are the text messages…the back and forth misspelled conversations that I personally find more time consuming than just talking to someone on the phone, but which everyone else seems to prefer.

The majority of client emails come in after 10pm at night, which I often answer. There’s nothing more fun than getting an email from a client at 10:30pm advising me of critical changes to their projects, leaving me to toss and turn all night until the sun comes up and I can start making calls to straighten out the new messes.

As a sole proprietor, it’s really hard to figure out where you draw the line.  How do you service your clients needs, but yet have down time and away time and even get more than 4 hours of sleep? Once a month I try and take a “vacation”, and hop the ferry to SF.  I have lunch at Slanted Door or Hog Island Oyster, then walk the vendors and pick up olive oil and cheese and catch the ferry home.  I am gone for 4 or 5 hours and it’s heaven, except for the calls and emails that I have to answer as soon as I get home…


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