Are you ready for the chimney sweeping season?
All over Europe and other parts of the globe, the chimney sweeping season is about to begin. Historically the 1st of September or there-about is the date that the chimney sweeping `Crazy Season` kicks off.
The Chimney sweeping season in the UK is historically short, beginning September and finishing in March/April. This means that for any business that we must earn enough in that short period to feed and water ourselves for the entire year. There are some issues attached to consider to avoid potentially serious consequences.
- We must charge enough in the busy season or risk being poor or even going bust in the summer, when there is little work. Sweeps tend to charge too little per job as they look at the `now` and not the long term. Try to think of your business annually and not day to day.
- If something is going to go wrong you can be sure that it will happen when you are busy and hurt your business the most.
With this in mind there are some simple precautions that we can take and measure we can make preparations for.
- Vehicles. Make sure they are serviced and ready for winter. If your van breaks down, two days off the road could mean 2/3 very lean weeks in the summer.
- Advertising. Autumn and winter is the time advertising actually works. Winning more jobs than you need or can handle means you can charge more per job meaning that you are planning for that long hard summer.
- Equipment. Stock up on essentials like; smoke pellets, spare rods, vacuum bags/filters, brushes, dust sheets and sweeping certificates. There have been many instances when sweeps can’t issue certificates or invoices because `The printer took too long`… Utter garbage… this is down to poor planning and allowing oneself to run too low or even run out. Finally consider buying a spare power head for you vacuum, if that thing breaks down in the winter you are in trouble.
- Prepare you family for you absence, let them know that you will see them again in April and you will be far less grumpy and far wealthier.
- Keep healthy. Go to the gym, get a flu shot, stock up on vitamin C and stay clear of sick people that might give you a cold or flu.
- Don’t burn yourself out. The busy season is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t be tempted to work seven day weeks, charge enough to earn what you need for the year working a 5/6 day week, work smart don’t be a bust fool and the old adage goes.
- Finally from experience I will add don’t be tempted to live a super lavish lifestyle during the winter. The work will not last and you will regret overspending during the season.
Here is a few tips to help during the chaos.
- Plan your working route so that it forms a horseshoe shape on a map. Starting close to home, working your way out to the bend in the horse shoe around midday and finally working towards home.
- Don’t give exact times! Morning or afternoon will suffice. Imaging that you have 8 jobs booked, each one you have given an hour slot to and on the first job there’s a massive nest or you get snagged in a liner. You now have seven annoyed customers as you are late for all of them and worst still they may have only taken an hour from work just for your visit.
- When making bookings for work during the season try to Book as far into the future as you can. This is good for two reasons; 1, you can actually plan the `horse shoe` route. 2, it is easy to fill the gaps in the diary up between now and the booked dates during the season.
- If you live in a cold area prone to ice or snow then treat you vehicle to a set of winter tyres. They make a huge difference
- If possible have someone that isn’t you answering the telephone. Customers don’t like talking to answering machines and your time should be filled sweeping chimneys.
To round things up, good preparation will solve most issues long before they arise.