Busy season is in full swing, head down, chin up, it could be a lot worse!
Autumn is well and truly here, and with it brings what Chimney Sweeps like to call, ‘silly season’. The drop in temperature is the catalyst for many stove and fire owners to book their annual sweep. As a result, September through to Chr*****s is generally the busiest time of the year. For me, that means 5-6 days a week flat out throughout this period.
For me, as a ‘sole trader’, this requires plenty of forward thinking and a routine which enables me to get everything done. As well as the sweeping, there is customer booking, accounts, ordering spares, washing and maintaining kit along with a host of other extra stuff that comes with the increase in demand.
I find this period an extremely satisfying experience which requires a good routine to maintain a semblance of sanity. For example, on arriving home my routine is;
1. Enter house.
2. Sweep sheets in wash.
3. Drill batteries on charge.
4. Oven on.
5. Telephone/e-mail any outstanding customers following message
6. Do daily accounts.
7. Send follow up e-mails.
8. Customer reminders for following day.
9. Any outstanding Admin, invoices, spares on order.
10. Food in oven.
13. Second wash sheets/clothes as required.
14. Hang up sheets to dry.
15. Relax (ish)
After a few tweaks I can complete this process in about an hour. For example, phone or message customer requests are early in the process to give time for them to come back etc before admin finished. As I write this down, maybe I think about it too hard, but whatever works?
During the day I try and keep 5-10 minutes in hand so I can answer and calls or reply to any e-mails or Facebook/WhatsApp enquiries. All with the purpose of arriving at the customers house exactly on time.
My customers have been fantastic and have embraced the new Covid-19 procedures. It does feel a little strange behind the mask but I try to appear at the door without it on for initial contact (maintaining 2 metres) to initially appear ‘human’, then put it on when entering the house. It’s noticeable the change in circumstances generally about the place, i.e. Zoom calls, extended families living in the same property, but everyone seems to be getting on with life.
I have also been very thankful for the support and help from other businesses, being a ‘sole’ trader is far to difficult if you are ‘sole’. Forming those working relationships with other related (and non-related) trades is extremely valuable. Not just from a professional standpoint, but also to talk over life in general to realise you are not alone in any concerns you may have. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given (By an RAF Air Commodore) was ‘The first conversation you have with a stranger should never be ‘help’’ , which I have taken on board in a self employed life. Much better to forge those working relationships first and find out how you can help others.
That is it for now. Thank you to all those who have helped and inspired me, I could not do it all on my own and certainly appreciate that currently being able to work is a privilege. I hope you all stay safe and well and look forward to seeing you soon,