My father and I ran an independently owned Janitorial service for five years. He presumed as the primary owner of J & R Enterprise, and I was gratefully awarded the position as the primary manager. My job Intel led overseeing the day-to-day operations from open to close. Thos duties consisted of the hiring to the firing, tracking and restocking inventory, and the final checkout at the end of every shift. These responsibilities were gratefully accepted, and willingly executed on a day-to-day basis for five years. Throughout the many life experiences, that I was exposed to by the job, I was able to grasp many of the important concepts of running a business.
The first step of planning any business venture is recognizing your operating capital and then learns how to operate within those means. Since the business wasn?t soley my own, the majority of those budgeting decisions were made in poor judgment,
Ultimately not in our best interest. One area I could control as the primary manager was, (hours of labor * number of employees). Everyday was a new experience because I never knew how many employees were going to show up for work. The janitorial business is much like the fast food business, they both have a high employee turnover ratio. Understanding and respecting this concept, showed the first signs of manager maturity. Now with that being understood, my man-hours calculation had to allow for spur of the moment adjustments on a daily basis, which it did. Many nights I acted as the third, fourth, and sometimes even the fifth employee reacting in a gallant effort to uphold my man-hours equation. True managers, who recognize this entity as a priority by successfully controlling labor costs for their administration, are generally rewarded with raises and other types of positive reinforcements.
Controlling the labor cost was easier said than done. Trying to keep up with five to seven employees in a twenty-story building, proved to be another task within itself. We were only held responsible for eight floors to clean, but the other twelve still became areas of enjoyment for many of our employees that were being paid off of our clock. This was due to my first method of deployment. My first method put a team of two on each floor, but each team was responsible for cleaning two. These floors had to be cleaned within three hours, and I was the enforcer of this time limit. I found myself walking up and down stairs wondering who was doing what and asking myself if so, where are they at? High labor costs, petty theft, and poor work quality were all of the negative side effects of my first method.
Those negative side effects led me to my next resolution, my second method. My second method grouped all of my employees together to clean floor by floor. This method resolved those negative issues, which had previously been areas of concern. This new method allowed myself, their loving manager, to observe their every move. My people worked more efficiently in the presence of authority than they did independently, as is the norm. Since we were all grouped together, my employees couldn?t sneak off or hide. The floor-by-floor technique also saved me time off of the final checkout. Instead of walking back threw the entire building floor by floor at the end of the night I was able to check, correct and shutdown each floor as it was cleaned, which allowed for a quicker departure after the last floor was completed. The second method had proved itself to be more efficient.
During my role as the primary manager at J&R Enterprise, I was able to make observations threw the eyes of an outsider. While making these observations, I was fortunate enough not to have become one. I wanted to be viewed as another employee, not their boss, more like a team captain and not their coach. This concept stood very firm with me, as it did my father, the true founder of J&R Enterprise. My father never used his position, as the boss of all bosses, to intimidate any of our employees. He also didn?t believe in using any abusive language, while conducting business on the job site. I remember my father?s coolness always being transcended down through my team and I, as If we were sitting out on the beach watching the tides roll in around sun break. The way I was managed before we expanded was the same way I had intended to do it, by staying calm and collective. My father?s management abilities made us all feel like we were part of a team working towards the same objective. His approach made us easier to manage and provided for a comfortable work atmosphere. The easier it felt for our staff to carry out their duties; a higher quality of work could be expected.
I can relate this concept back to my first job at Burger King. My manager was a complete jerk. He had poor communication skills coupled by a dislikable personality. Now all of these factors contributed to the lack of unity by him and his employees. I remember everybody posted at his or her station like robots. Nobody talked to the person next to him or her, It was like trying to talk to the person sitting next to you while you?re rolling down a humongous dip on a roller coaster at Kings Island, virtually impossible. Working under those type of conditions soon became dreadful. I found myself questioning my desire to go to work, on a daily basis!
The knowledge gained during that five-year time span, was invaluable. I applied every concept of business in one form or the next. Recognizing your operating capital is one concept, and to continually operate within those means is another. For instance, one of our largest accounts was initially underbid, and the gain versus loss margin wasn?t big enough. We never reflected this issue to any of our employees, out fear that it would damage moral. My father, acted out of greed instead of smarts, by accepting a contract of such magnitude at a price that forced us to shoestring their account.
My father was reactive instead of proactive, which isn?t the way to run any business. If something is a potential problem, then why not take preventive steps to ensure, that the problem never manifest? My father would wait until three out of our five vacuum cleaners were broke, before getting new ones. In the meanwhile our crew was crippled for three or four days at the expense of our time clock. If we weren?t properly equipped to handle the job, than our job assignments would take longer to complete. This problem again, relates all of the way back to my man hours equation. In business, it was very rare that one problem wasn?t directly or indirectly related to the cause of another. For instance, if your administration constantly issues payroll late, then you can expect negative feelings from your staff. The administration doesn?t see or hear these feelings; they just work at a lower quality, which could ultimately cause you to lose your contract if it can?t be turned around.
Our family business was like most moms and pop small businesses, limited to a small operating capital. We made do with what we had, but operating with such a low ceiling ultimately hindered our organization?s growth. Every business has dreams of growing, whether big or small. In order to expand, you must be able to re-invest a percentage of profits earned from preceding months of business. For some reason, this proved to be a real challenge for our organization. This challenge was directly related to our personal resources. After a few months of business, this soon turned into a realization. I started realize that our personal resources weren?t available in abundance. That reality was frightening in terms of the consequences that awaited. Sometimes our employees couldn?t get paid on time, because our main client decided to be late on his monthly bill, and we didn?t have the resources at hand to whether the storm. When intern, we should have had enough capital from previous savings invested, to cover any emergency.
Company emergencies are handled by the higher levels of that particular organization. Most of time, those are the decisions that make or break that company. Those decisions also affect everyone operating under that administration?s wing. I?ve personally experienced the aftermath of an administration?s decision, and those type of decisions turn get turned around overnight. For instance, my father let our clients dictate their own method of payment, meaning whenever they decided to pay, is when our business would get our check. Not only did I, his primary manager, feel embarrassed and humiliated, but this also hurt our credibility with our employees. In this business, your staff has to be paid on time. My father had a late clause in the original contracts of every account, which had been previously signed and dated by that client, before the transpiration of any business. If he had enforced those late penalties on every account that paid late, then we would probably still be in business. In my opinion, I thought my father didn’t want to risk loosing any business, but we don?t have any business now.