How to Avoid Burnout When Your Tree Business is Booming
You know that feeling--spring hits and EVERYONE in a 20 mile radius has realized they needed their trees taken care of yesterday. Instantly your schedule is full. Summer hits and it's go time, and we don't have to remind you what autumn looks Iike. In case you forgot--it's pure chaos of fitting in last minute calls and battling with the constraints that Mother Nature created of doing it all before the snow flies.
Whether you're a tree service business owner, climber, or ground's person you want the company you are a part of to be successful but you also don't want to have to sacrifice your health and mental well being to do that, so.... where's the happy medium, how can you kick ass and still stay healthy and sane? Let's see how we can balance it all.
First hard fact- you cannot and will not be able to please everyone.
Accepting this and understanding it's not your fault will do wonders for your sanity.
Providing a service automatically puts you into a category of also having to take into account customer service and although it is your job to serve others, sometimes it can be a real challenge. These challenges can come in many forms- scheduling, cost, and demands. So let's break those down.
Make a Schedule
You have seven days in a week and 24 hours in a day. You need at least 8 hours of sleep. That will allow you to survive, barely. What you need in order to thrive and stay healthy is additional hours set aside to eat, decompress, relax, have fun, and be a part of your family and friend's lives. To take it a step further you shouldn't just be looking for hours, you should be setting aside days (yes, more than one) to do those things. If you find yourself with no time for these things we dare to ask you- if your job is contributing money to your life, but you don't have time to LIVE that life, are you actually enjoying yourself or are you functioning from a low grade survival mindset? Although society has ingrained in you otherwise- you can and deserve to have a healthy work / life balance. Schedule accordingly, schedule yourself into your schedule.
Next, be ok that you might not be able to say yes to every single job, or at least not yes right away. In order to maximize your time, schedule everything out, with realistic time allotments, to see what you can realistically say yes to and when, what you can say yes to later, and what might have to be a no, or not right now. Scheduling helps you visually look at your days on paper and know where you're at as far as hours, income, and personal time. If you trust the process this can allow you to take a deep breath and say- "I got this. I said yes to everything I could, financially I'm taken care of, and what I said no to, I had no other choice, which leaves me with no guilt." Due to hustle culture this might not make sense for awhile, and it surely doesn't make sense to the generation who was designed to wake up, work, sleep, repeat, and finally experience life at 65 when you retire, but with enough practice you can adapt to this schedule to help reduce burnout and overwhelm and enjoy life NOW, and later.
A lot of the time this conversation will end in money, it's always about money. "I have to work nonstop because I need the money." Either you don't have enough or want more, so that's what we will tackle next.
Look at Your Cost of Services
Again, whether you are an owner, climber, or groundie, the cost of your company's services trickles down into what's left over for the ability to pay bills, covering cost of doing business, what can be paid out to employees, and finally profit to put back into the company. If you undervalue your time and your professional skill set that trickles down quickly. Bills are barely paid, staff is underpaid, and profits are nonexistent. This again is a lack mindset, charging only enough to get by. There are many reasons why you may find yourself doing this- fear of dropping a large price, not seeing value in your service, not being properly educated in your industry, or working with a customer base that is unable or unwilling to pay for what they are getting. We're not saying you should be price gouging, but you need to cover costs, you need to be above the basic "surviving" status in order to not burn out. Yes, there are some clients who can not afford your services which is unfortunate and we have to hope they will find a business that has the ability to work for them due to either lower overhead costs, that they are building a business and new clientele and offering intro prices, or unfortunately many are still running from that place of lack and continue to undercharge. But there are also going to be those clients who have the money, and plenty of it, but just refuse to part with it. This should not force you to lower yourself, they are not, why are you? Providing a service should be an equal and even exchange of money for skill and time. There are people out there that recognize that and are willing to be equal players in that exchange. When holding your knowledge and skill set to a higher standard you hold yourself to a higher standard which then allows for the proper time to money ratio, then allowing for the proper amount of time for sanity's sake away from the business as well. Another tip- if you're feeling stretched as an owner or employee also remember it's helpful to keep your expenses in check which will help reduce the amount of income that MUST be brought in in order to survive.
Set Healthy Boundaries
This ties into the conversation we had above about what clients (or bosses for that matter) will demand of you. In all reality, the client can often act as the ruling boss and it's up to the actual owner to take the reins and make sure the company is working well for EVERYONE- them, the client, and the employees, because you're all in it together. This is where we need to practice boundaries and self value. What do you deserve? When a client demands the job be done the next day for half the price what do you believe about your value and everyone on the crew if you say yes? What do you believe about your value if you say no? What are they getting out of it? A professionally executed job done exactly when they preferred for exactly how much they asked for. What are you getting out of it? An overwhelmed schedule, wear and tear on you, your crew, and your equipment for a payment that can't compensate let alone profit anyone. Know when to say no. Often you will find firm boundaries( with clear, good, expressed reasons) will lead to people finding a middle ground or accepting your initial offer all together. And the same goes for bosses- there's no denying there' s a rough culture when it comes to bosses. We wish for them to all be fair and understanding, but are they? Know your worth, find your boundaries, put safety above all, and hopefully find that common ground and someone who values the skill set and knowledge you bring to the table.
We wish you the best of luck as the season ramps up and your calendar starts to fill up! Remember- organize your schedule, prioritize both personal and professional time, know your value, and protect your well being with boundaries!