20 Extra Hous Per Week: What Would You Do?

by : Daniel Tangredi

While I was in college, if you would have asked me what I would do if I had an extra 20 hours to spend in a week, the first thing I would have told you is that I would definitely NOT spend it studying. I actually would have gone down a long list of hobbies and activities I would like to do if I had the time. So when my co-workers asked me to find out what owners/managers of sign companies would do if they had an extra 20 hours per week, I was very interested in hearing the responses. What types of activities are sign shop owners doing with their spare time? Was there a common activity or hobby in the sign & graphics industry? Or would I hear several different responses?

The Results

The results were unexpected to say the least. By my fourth call I started to hear a common trend forming among sign shop owners. None were used to having leisure time, or so it seemed. In fact Marion Ward, the owner of AWC Signs, told me he hasn’t had 20 extra hours in twenty years. “I wouldn’t know what to do" he said about having time off from the shop. Marion explained that he has been in this industry for quite a long time, and was soon going to retire. Just the thought of having extra time on his hands was completely foreign to him. Does Marion represent sign shop owners as a whole? Is the sign & graphics industry really so busy that owners/managers don’t even have time to think about leisure activities? Or, are shop owners unaware of how easy it is in this day and age to save time?

The next person I talked with was also surprised by the question. Randy from Bama Signs told me he “never thought about it". Never thought about saving time I asked “Can you think about it now and tell me what you would do?" After a little probing and a little time to think about the question, Randy said he would most likely “spend the time fixing up houses" which he liked to do on the side to make a little extra money. This was getting interesting. Already two people who never thought about having a couple extra hours or even the ability to save time for that matter. Two people who were surprised simply by the question itself.

Increasing Productivity

Being the Gen-Xer and fresh out of college guy that I am, I have always looked for ways to make things easier. Isn’t that what we do in college, look for ways to spend less time but get the same or even better results? At one time, my goal was to figure out how to work less but get paid more (I hope my boss isn’t reading this) without cheating of course. This is what most owners or business graduates call “Increasing Productivity". Well, in this day and age with so many advances in technology, there is always a way to work less and get paid more, therefore increasing your productivity. In fact I now work for a company that helps shops do just that.

Software – It’s amazing!

SOFTWARE! The amazing world of mouse clicks, GUI interfaces, pricing screens and automation. A brain, or what techies call a processor, that thinks even when the power is turned off, or so some of us think. A world where you don’t have to be the only one estimating jobs, because your pricing is built into the software. Where you can fill out customer information one time and never have to re-enter it again. Where you have the ability to duplicate information and go from estimates to orders, easily and effectively by simply converting and cloning. A world where you can set automatic reminders that tell you who needs to be called, what needs to be done, and when to do it. Where it’s possible to truly, never again be in “management overload", so you can actually relax and enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning. A world where you can search through hundreds, thousands, even millions of customer records/information in a matter of seconds, rather then hours or days. Imagine the p!

ower and control given to you in this world. This is the world I have come to know and this is the world I have come to love. The world where we all can work less, take advantage of technology, and still increase revenue and productivity.

The Scared Stigma

So why aren’t more business owners jumping onto the “software train". Could it be that computer software and new technology scares them? It seemed to scare Marion Ward when I spoke with him. Is there some stigma behind software that leaves the non-Gen Xer’s afraid? If so, to those people I say “Do not be afraid". These advancements in technology will make it easier for people such as Karen Bouknight of A Plus Signs & Graphix to “Relax and just chill" as she easily put it when I spoke with her. It will give Mike Bayliss of Bayliss Signs Plus more time to “Play Golf" as he stated he would like to do more. It will give us all a chance to “Take a vacation and take off" along side of Bill from Grafx Sign & Design.

Whether it be estimating and business management software like Cyrious Software, or some other software package that helps you save time, my only question is what would you do if you had an extra 20 hours per week?