Now that the year is more than half over, I wanted to ask: How is business? I hope that it’s been profitable for all of you so far. Personally speaking, the first half of the year for our business has been very busy, with a variety of different installations. We had the opportunity to work on a custom parade home, which was one of 27 homes that when completed, allowed the public to tour the homes. Our home had a plethora of custom work, which I’ll cover in a future article. Any installer who has worked on a parade-type home knows the challenges and tight time frames for installers, as we are typically one of the last ones to finish a home and tend to have to make up time for all the other delays. Along with the parade home we had other clients to take care of, so there were many long days and hours.

As I speak with installers on residential and commercial work around the country, the majority say that they are staying busy and are conservatively optimistic. So my question is, if business is good, are you reinvesting in yourself and your company? When I mention “yourself,” there are a few things I’m referring to. Are you being proactive with your installation training? Remember what got you to where you are today, your knowledge and skills – so don’t let them get stagnant. What about personal time? If you feel that your kids are growing an inch every time you see them, chances are you’re not spending enough time with them, Take the time to watch them grow.

With our workload being so heavy this year, there has been little to no time for us just to relax and catch up ourselves. Working long hours it seems is the way it is if you own your own business, but try to make a point of recharging your mind and body every now and then to maintain your focus. That goes the same if you have employees or subcontractors working with you; remember, you’re a team and if the entire team is worn out you won’t be performing at your best.

What are you doing about your business? Investing in new tools? Keeping up with business technology? During the recession years many business owners and installers decided to hold off on purchasing new tools and made do with what they had. If business is better, think about updating some of those tools that are starting to show wear.

Last year we had a theft of tools in one of our trailers. It’s a sickening feeling when you pull up and find your trailer doors are wide open even though you know you had everything secured. I’m sure there are those of you who have experienced this pain. We had no choice but to purchase new tools. The only good thing about this theft is that we did purchase some of the latest models available.

A couple of unique tools we purchased were a miter saw and belt sander. You’re probably thinking, “Those tools aren’t anything unique, Jon!” Well, if you haven’t checked out the 12” Dual-bevel glide miter saw with axial glide from Bosch, you ought to. The nice thing about the tool is that you don’t have to keep it out in the middle of the room because of the slide bars that usually protrude out the backside with most sliding miter saws.

The belt sander is a Porter Cable 2 1/2” by 14” compact belt sander. This sander fits in your hand for those jobs where you need to get a little more aggressive than with a palm sander, and it doesn’t have the bulkiness of a big belt sander. It works great on custom hardwood steps and for detail work.

One last question for you: Does your business take credit cards? If not, you should. If you have a smart phone, you have the ability to take credit cards on the spot. It’s easy and inexpensive for a small business owner/installer now to take credit cards anywhere you take your phone. There are many options out there, including the popular Square reader.

Here’s wishing you all the best in the second half of the year!