When my wife, Nina, and I ran our remodeling company, we would shut down all operations for the period from Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve. This year Christmas is on a Tuesday. Were we still in operation, we would have a little gathering at the end of Friday, Dec. 21, just for those who worked in the company. We then would all not work again until Tuesday, Jan. 2, the day after New Year’s Day.
Why did we do this? Working in the remodeling business, as either an owner or an employee, requires a tremendous amount of attention and focus, both on delivering a great product and providing an exceptional experience. Because of all that this requires of everyone, all involved need a break, a complete interruption of what they normally are doing as a team. And the end of the year is a good time to do it.
What did our employees think of this practice? They liked it a lot. To make it easier for them financially, we would supplement the holiday pay they received for Christmas and New Year’s Day with a bonus that essentially meant they were receiving pay for all the days we were closed.
What if we were not making enough money to do this? The very rare times that this was the case, we would still take the break after having informed our people of the economic realities weeks ahead of time. Time off with one’s family and being able to not have to pay attention to work is a priceless gift in and of itself. The pay would have made it even nicer, but if we couldn’t afford it, that did not mean we would not take the break.
Didn’t our clients get upset about the lack of progress? When preparing a schedule for a project that was to start before the holidays and end sometime in the New Year, we would build in the break. We would show the client that this is what we were planning on doing. We would explain that, were we working during this time, we would get poor service from all the trade contractors and vendors we depended on. And, if the client was living in the home while we were doing the project, we would ask them if they really wanted work happening while they were trying to celebrate the holidays.
Never done this before? Give it a try and see what the feedback is like that you get from employees, trade contractors, vendors, and your clients. You might be surprised! —Paul Winans, a veteran remodeler, now works as a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage, and as a consultant to remodeling business owners. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.