5 Ways Pros Work Smarter, Not Harder, on Their Businesses
Renovation and design pros share how they work efficiently, delegate client work and relieve work-related stress
Kitchen and bath specialist Jared Lewis of Lewis Design-Build-Remodel in California, says that identifying ways to run his business more efficiently saves him time, money and stress.
“We have multiple work trucks that we set up in exactly the same way, just like they do on fire trucks,” Jared says. “An employee knows they will find tools like hammers, nails and measuring tapes in the same location on every truck. It might not seem like a big thing, but when an employee knows exactly where to find a tool, they don’t have to waste time and money searching for it.”
Jared also conducts cost-benefit analyses on tasks big and small. “The lumberyard we work with will deliver most shipments for $10 a load,” he says. “My employees are paid three to four times that amount per hour, so it doesn’t make any sense to have them go pick it up themselves. It’s all about trimming the fat to make your business run as lean and efficient as possible.”
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Designer Barbara Milner of South Hill Interiors in Toronto says that when working with clients, delegating work can be a great strategy for working smarter, as long as you choose the right moments.
“Delegation is a wonderful thing and it can save you lots of time, but it really all comes down to the client and their needs,” Barbara says. “Over the years I have established a network of showroom representatives and professional contractors that I trust to work with my clients without me having to be there.” Empowering clients in a direct relationship with other trusted pros saves Barbara time that she can then spend on the design work she does best, rather than in accompanying the client to meetings with other pros. But her ability to delegate really depends on a client’s comfort level.
“If it’s a new client or one who is uncertain or anxious about a design decision, I make sure that I’m there to talk them through it,” Barbara says. “Delegating needs to be a positive for both you and the client or it doesn’t make any sense.”
Keeping everyone up to date and on the same page is one of the best ways to work smarter, not harder. With this in mind, Jared shares a daily job log for every project.
“I send a daily job log to the contractors, subcontractors and clients,” Jared says. “It reviews what was done the day before and what’s expected to be done for the day. Letting everyone involved know the current status of a project can relieve a lot of stress and miscommunication.”
Builders and other home renovation pros can use Houzz Pro to create and share daily status updates, progress photos and notes with their clients. The personalised client portal available to Houzz Pro subscribers keeps all information about a project in a single place, even reminding homeowners of action items such as approving a change order or making a payment.
In a world of modern technology, designer Jena Bula of Delphinium Design in North Carolina, often relies on an old-school telephone call as the best way to get quick and clear results.
“Instead of waiting for an email response or being worried about the tone of an email being off, I prefer to pick up the phone and talk to contractors and clients,” Jena says. “I feel as if you can often get more accomplished in one phone call than you can in a dozen book-length emails being sent back and forth.”
To be your best, you have to feel your best, and the renovation and design professionals interviewed for this article all highlighted the importance of relieving stress in a consistent and scheduled manner.
“I recently purchased a new turntable to go with my large collection of records gathered over the years,” Barbara says. “I listen to music every night as a way to unwind and reflect upon my day. There’s something about the tactile nature of taking a record out of its sleeve and putting it on the turntable that melts away my stress.”
For Jared, a weekly golf game helps keep him and his business running smoothly. “If I don’t get a round of golf in every week, it’s going to show up in my work. I will be more tense and agitated. That’s not good for me, my employees or my clients,” he says.
Jena says exercise helps get her through her workweek with lower stress. “Yoga is my go-to exercise,” she says. “I try to get in a few sessions every week. That and a nightly glass of wine usually does the trick.”
What’s your best tip for working smarter? Share your ideas in the Comments.