In this edition of Queen Vacuum’s blog, we’re going to take a break from talking specifically about vacuums, and talk about taking a BREAK!
Nope, there will be no reviews of the best vacuums or how to hunt down dust bunnies today! I can assure you that you’ll still be left with thought-provoking tidbits of advice. We are not claiming to be shrinks or life coaches, but we’ve learned a few things during our 16+ years as small business owners, and it wouldn’t be right to keep it all to ourselves!
Remember; this blog is for you, our readers/customers. The subject matter is up to you as well. We write stories to answer the questions you have, whether asked explicitly or inferred through general conversation. So how could we ignore one of the most commonly-asked questions of this past year? Albeit unrelated to vacuums or cleaning, we are happy to discuss why we are closed on Saturdays and other random dates throughout the year. And as is always our goal, we hope that you can take what you learn here and apply it to improve your own life!
I encourage you to read the full story…there are details which may really speak to you. But for those short on time, I’ve borrowed a snippet (that I used on our website a while back) that sums it all up:
“Please PLAN AHEAD…We’ll announce exact dates as they approach, but we will CLOSE to take one short vacation MONTHLY (usually one of the last weekends or around a major holiday.) …We’re a true “mom & pop” biz, solely operating 6 days a week for your convenience. But after over 14 successful years (sans vacation) we finally realized that we need a rest! Thanks to your encouragement we decided to close for short, occasional breaks… These will actually offer the maximum net operating hours for you while giving us enough back-to-back days to visit out-of-state family, attend the occasional wedding, complete home-repair projects and have a life! We’re so grateful! Stay tuned…”
We work hard, really hard – as do you. We genuinely want to help people, and although this business is our life (and we must keep our sanity a high priority) we care more about your needs than you can imagine. We understand your life is complex, so we do our very best to make our service to you as effective, valuable, pleasurable and easy as possible. But as you’ll read, we learned the hard way that we can’t be all things to all people, and it’s hard to know when to stop or say “no.” The disappointment we feel when we can’t help somebody is physically palpable among us. But we’ve also decided to be the absolute best at what we do, even if that means scaling back on certain products, services or operations that are better served elsewhere.
So, what do you do when the business is growing and you’re achieving your goals, but it’s at the expense of your personal health and relationships? Re-evaluate. After some extensive experimenting (also enlisting advice from certain trusted business-friends and other professionals) we settled on a schedule with enough “open” hours to serve the majority of our loyal customers. But it also allows us time to get through the large amount of work that can only be done after-hours, without interruption and in the quiet. Lastly, it gives our team time on Saturday to enjoy Shabbat, a “blessed rest,” and recuperate/enjoy life a little. Perhaps some people assume we are lazy or not “customer-friendly” because our hours are somewhat limited. But truthfully, our most loyal, best customers are supportive. “Good for you” or “you guys deserve a break” they say. The relief we feel upon hearing that cannot be described!
It took us many years to figure out that WE ARE NOT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE! We cannot replicate the format of some other stores because we do not do the same things. We fill a gap left behind by all other “big-box” and online retailers. We are here for the folks who need and/or appreciate expert advice, as well as repair service. This is best achieved though a small, personal shop operated by a highly skilled (and invested) team. Perhaps one day will we grow to the point where we can afford more employees to expand our hours? Eh, maybe. But with expansion, operating costs go up and personalization goes down… Amazon.com and Wal-Mart are great for some things, but Queen Vacuum is better for others. So we’ve made a point to work hardest at what we’re good at – what our best customers need – and forget the rest!
Here’s a little more “back-story,” if you have an extra minute…. Several years ago, while still operating our two store locations, our team had unanimously decided to take back our weekends! For the most part, all of us could now attend special weekend events (like out-of-state weddings and family gatherings) with a little relaxation to spare.Incredibly, that action launched our business and lives to the next level! However, as you may know, our 2nd store location in Neptune City was destroyed in a flood in 2014. Since then we consolidated our stores into just our (former) Red Bank location. To serve our “displaced” Neptune customers and spread out the excessive work we opened back up for a 6th day. With a little creative scheduling and the extra retained staff available it worked out alright! However, in January 2017, our dear Erika who had to move away. John and I now had some seriously skilled, hard-working shoes to fill…and away went our extra day off LOL! We’decided to maintain the 6-day “open” work week our customers had recently become accustomed to. But without enough time off and a TON more work to complete we quickly grew weary.
So, we decided to follow the pattern of many other small businesses. We grabbed our calendar and blocked out the federal holidays, penciled in a few 3-day weekends around major personal/family events, and a 2-week vacation for ourselves. Now we work ourselves to-the-bone 6 days, rest like it’s God’s business on Saturday/Sabbath, and ENJOY a few larger blocks of refreshing and/or productive time off!! Funny thing…Each time we’ve made these minor operational modifications, our productivity and revenue has gone UP, our relationships improve and the “spring” returns to our step!! We’ve enjoyed our loved ones, friends and hobbies while getting a little vitamin D, and we come into work on Sunday mornings completely refreshed. This helps us stay sharp and work harder for our customers all week!
MORAL OF THE STORY: This article is not designed to be a long-winded excuse to have a few days off per month (not that that’s really a lot to ask.) I mean it when I say that we have learned a LOT about ourselves, people, and life itself over the past decade. This article is about learning what’s truly important in your life, then taking care of it. Step back from your daily life, habits, routines and chores and look at what you’re doing. Do you like what you see? You must take care of YOU, or you’re no good to anyone else. Your choices and changes you make may affect other people, so be respectful of that fact. Ideally the situation will work out to the benefit of all. But others should respect your choices as well, so that the favor can be returned someday. Furthermore, assume the best, give the benefit of the doubt, be patient… you know, “golden rule” stuff. A little respect and a friendly smile can go a long way.
We’ve finally learned to take some of those wise, old adages more seriously: “Quality versus quantity”; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”; “Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you”; “All work and not play makes Jack a dull boy”; “You can’t win them all.” We looked into our business and personal lives to decide what was important. We learned to be protective of our time; to “weed out” unfruitful things that weren’t in line with our goals, leaving time and resources to “fertilize” the good stuff! Things got better. So we hope that that by having read our story you’ll not only gain respect for our decision to close Saturdays and for an occasional vacation, but also finds ways to streamline and improve the quality of your own life!