If you haven’t read April 14th’s post, “What The Data Says” you probably should, so you’ll get a better idea of what I’m thinking today. Don’t worry, it was a short post so it won’t hurt much.
I’ve had a few days to do pretty much nothing but think, and I’ll explain why in a bit. I’ve been hyperfocusing on data I’ve collected over the years, sorting it in 37 different ways and trying to find hints of ways to improve Amerivet Services. I’m getting close enough that I can probably get in front of my whiteboard and start sorting it all out.
Last night I realized there are things in life that you just don’t need data for. It’s like when your teenage daughter has this guy pick her up to “take her to Homecoming.” It doesn’t usually take a big database for an an attentive dad to know whether the kid is a dirt bag, and of course any hidden “qualities” will inevitably show their ugly heads over time. In the same token, it doesn’t take a big database to be a proud grandfather when that same girl ditches the dirt bag and gives you a grandson several years later.
That’s kind of where I’m at right now with my annual quest. I’m at the tail end of a tough winter that has taken quite a toll on personnel and equipment. We pulled out all of the stops to build a big tall building in SE Michigan’s worst winter on record, and luckily nobody got hurt. However it took all of the intestinal fortitude we had to keep the project moving because conditions were nothing short of brutal. During that project we had a welder go up in smoke during a blizzard, and numerous other tools were broken, worn out, or lost in the snow. Once the building was finished, we had a backlog of other projects, and I pounded through even more winter weather to get them all finished.
Then this past Tuesday my service truck was rolling nicely down I-696 and suddenly the engine died. Luckily I was rolling fast enough that I could navigate heavy traffic and coast to the side of the road. Then there was a huge task of dealing with insurance, roadside assistance, as well as several tow companies and a Chrysler dealership who didn’t understand this isn’t your average pickup truck. Finally, after 7-1/2 hours of sitting by the freeway, I managed to get the truck to Brighton Chrysler where it’s been ever since. Apparently the problem wasn’t “typical” and so they had to get Chrysler Engineering to help them troubleshoot it. Needless to say this will be a $2600 repair and I’ll be without a way to conduct business for a few more days.
This is the part where I don’t need data to see an opportunity for change. It’s easy to see that winter has taken a chunk out of tools, equipment, vehicles, and ME. The cost of “pulling out the stops” to accomplish the impossible is very high. The data says it’s in excess of $12,000 so far this year. Data doesn’t show the daily risk of life and limb driving up and down every freeway in the area, in every kind of weather possible, then working in that same weather all day so I can risk my way home again.
Don’t get me wrong….I LOVE this work, I LOVE overcoming challenges, and I LOVE this business. However, loving what you do doesn’t keep it from wearing you at approximately the same rate it wears equipment. A person has to take time to take care of themself and do a little “preventive maintenance,” just like preventive maintenance on equipment. A haircut and a little time with my wife can do wonders for me, and I HAVE to set aside time every day and every week for preventive maintenance.
So, when factoring what the data says with what it doesn’t say, I believe there will soon be a change to our business model such that, while we’ll always do smaller projects, there will be a benefit to those customers who bring larger projects our way. In other words, we need to discourage projects that involve driving two hours to do one hour of work, or more actively manage our workload by bundling smaller projects in one area together so there’s less time on the freeway and more time on the job site.
While I fully understand that a broken “anything” is a priority, it can be beneficial to Amerivet Services and its customers to plan further ahead than we do currently. We’ve already made progress in this area, because during last year’s “data brainstorm” I’d made it a point to make our calendar look at least a week ahead for the local area, and look two weeks ahead for Macomb and St. Clair counties so we could reduce mileage charges for customers out there.
Of course, for customers with urgent needs we always offer weekend and evening emergency service on a “first call-first served” basis. Last October we performed more hours of emergency service than scheduled service.
Yesterday I signed an agreement with The Blue Book that will help us focus on more commercial projects. I hope that this new focus will help take Amerivet Services toward a new horizon and be the catalyst for these new changes that are cooking in my head.
I hope to have business back in full swing next week. I have some catching up to do, but if you have a need please call us and we’ll get you on the schedule. I’d like to have that calendar looking at least two weeks out this year, and it would be nice to say “Oh, we already have another project scheduled in your area so we’ll stop by Thursday to quote yours.”