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It's a Tough Grind Out There

April 18, 2011
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Mike Murphy

When contractors are tasked with a difficult job, they find a way to make it happen. The legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi, gets credited with saying a lot of things that he never actually said - or, at least not the way he actually said them. He may not have first uttered the words, but, that whole thing about getting going when the going gets tough is close enough, and a great example is the typical day in the life of an HVACR professional.

EARLY MORNING: Getting going usually means waking up very early in order to be at the office before 6:30 a.m. - that is if you want a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee with little interruption and a chance to get ahead on some e-mails or a stack of paperwork - otherwise, people start wandering in by 7 a.m. to get their day started, which of course, can mess up your day. If you’re not an early riser in this business, you better hope somebody in your company is, because as Lombardi once said, “The early bird gets the worm.”

MID-MORNING: This is the time period when most of the work really gets done in any business. Many people are at their peak performance during these hours. A good thing too, because it is the time when meetings with co-workers are often scheduled, critical decisions are made, and important strategies are crafted.

Lombardi also said, “The best laid schemes of mice and men ... .” It only takes one urgent customer call to throw a monkey wrench into your entire schedule. Staying on task is tough enough for aging owners with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, but when you throw in customers’ requests, it’s a wonder anything gets accomplished on some mornings.

LUNCH: If you are lucky enough to be working in the field, you have probably avoided some salesperson who wants to occupy your feeding time. However, if you’re at all office-bound, you can usually count on a free lunch from one of the local peddlers.

But, remember that other famous Lombardi quote, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” During the free lunch the peddler will remind you of how you can purchase more stuff, and how return on investment selling is not really dead yet. The Golden Corral is a favorite stop, so you can expect to get sleepy about mid-afternoon, which is otherwise the second most productive part of your day.

MID-AFTERNOON: After awaking from the mega-carb loading ordeal (a.k.a., the Golden Corral Effect), the reality of the day’s pressures can begin to close in on you. Lombardi was right when he said, “There are only so many hours in a day.” If you have already burned through most of the day, it is difficult to get caught up during mid-afternoon. However, this is when you most often discover that some other company has wired a control system incorrectly, and now your company is responsible for figuring out how to make it work. Oh yeah, and the installation instructions have mysteriously disappeared from the jobsite.

CLOSING TIME: Unfortunately, there really is no closing time. Customers call at odd hours, grocery freezers must not drop below temperature, mid-morning commitments must be scheduled, and you’re promoting your 24/7 service between soccer matches.

Though Lombardi may never have had any inclination that his grandson would be toiling in the HVAC business, it seems that he must have had technicians, steamfitters, and pipefitters in mind when he allegedly crafted the lyric: “Oh no there ain’t no rest for the wicked, until we close our eyes for good.”

JOB SATISFACTION: Of the hundreds of quotes that are correctly and incorrectly attributed to the famed coach, Lombardi really did say, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

In an industry that employs millions of people worldwide in the contracting, distribution, and manufacturing sectors, perhaps it is obvious why the job gets done every day, regardless of how tough the going may be.

Publication date: 04/18/2011
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