I am a serial entrepreneur seeking personal freedom within one year. This site is about that journey.

Not So Christian DayCare in Brentwood, TN


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And will you please fix the fax machine while you're at it?

And will you please fix the fax machine while you’re at it?

This totally speaks to personal freedom and being able to manage your own time.

My wife works for what is quickly becoming a notorious (to us anyhow) Christian daycare facility in Brentwood, TN. I use the term ‘Christian’ lightly, as some of their business practices are far from resembling anything that Jesus would do, it appears to be nothing more than a clever marketing device, but we’ve grown accustomed to this living in the south. There are a LOT of issues that she has been dealing with over the last several months of working there, but the battle that she is currently fighting involves what the Department of Labor calls ‘Off Duty Waiting Time’.

See, the way that the laws for day care facilities are setup in Tennessee (as in most states), they are required to maintain a strict care giver to child ratio depending on the age of the children. For my wife’s age group, the ratio is 1 to 14. When she first started working there, they would frequently be so understaffed that there were as many as 25 infants, toddlers and small children in a room with a single teacher. This presents safety issues and should concern any parent who brings their children to any day care facility, but from what I understand this problem has been resolved because the facility that she works for is dropping in numbers and they value the impact of Tennesse’s ‘Star System’, which evaluates day care quality:

http://tnstarquality.org/

Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the quality of the facility from the perspective of how they treat their employees (which is directly related to why the facility is losing customers), it only pertains to issues important to parents and children… particularly for cleanliness and safety… and quite honestly it is only important to them prior to the day that the auditor shows up to give the star rating.

But I am off topic.

The issue that my wife is dealing with now is related to how she and her other co-workers are scheduled and the lack of respect that is given for their time.

Let me back up…

Our mornings are pretty typical of most families. We have a 4 year old boy who goes to day care at the same facility… and takes his time getting dressed close to the warmest place in the house. I work from home, so I get to watch / help my lovely wife rush around while she gets ready, gets our son ready, eats breakfast, reads some email, grabs some coffee… and then runs out the door only to drive in traffic for 45+ minutes before arriving at her work on time when scheduled.

And that’s when the fun starts… because they usually won’t allow her to clock in. FOR HOURS. They do this to every teacher who works there. They show up when scheduled, but can only clock in when enough kids arrive to push the ratio out of balance.

Worse, the inferred (read threatened) expectation is that the teachers should be working in their rooms on lesson plans, cleaning, etc… while they wait until the teacher to child ratio comes up to a level where another teacher is needed.

Information about ‘Off Duty Waiting Time’ can be found on the Department of Labor website here, but the summary of it is that it is considered ‘worked time’ that the employees should be paid for if:

  1. You are not completely relieved from duty;
  2. The periods are not long enough to enable you to use the time effectively for your own purposes;
  3. You not are definitely told in advance that you may leave the job; and
  4. You not are advised of the time that you are required to return to work.

Understand, she is not a salaried employee … she is an hourly employee. She only makes money if she is able to clock in. There are hundreds of other things that she could be doing with the hours that they are stealing from her. She could sleep in, work out, spend more time with her family, catch up with work from her second job, avoid traffic in the morning, etc… Instead, she is expected to rush in a panic to pack our child into a car to drive 45+ minutes in traffic … only to show up and be told that she can’t clock in for an hour or more because of an issue that the facility itself has caused.

End Rant.

 

 

Cookie Carts and Business Strategy Part 2 (Mindset)


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Is that a bad thing?
In this series, I’m writing about how to build your business in a way that it will run without you around. The first thing that I want to talk about is the mindset that you need to cultivate in order to begin to either pull yourself out of your existing business or to intentionally build and manage your business with personal freedom as the goal.

First and foremost, you need to determine that you are a business owner, not a manager. What’s the difference? Glad you asked. A business owner works ON their business, a manager works IN their business. As a business owner, you may need to occasionally wear the manager hat … but your goals are usually different. You should constantly evaluate your business from the perspective of an owner looking at it from the outside.

Another way to think about this is that a business owner develops systems and processes that are then managed by roles (people) placed within them.

Any time that a task comes across your desk, you should be asking these questions:

  1. Am I the only person who can do this?
    If you are not the only person who can do this, why are you doing it? If you are the only person doing this, spend some time thinking if that is actually true… and if it is, why? Hire champions who you can trust, learn how to delegate and get really good at it. For the bonus round, learn how to train champions to train champions.
  2. Is this something that can be documented?
    I used to spend a lot of my time supporting clients and staff on things that they really could take care of themselves if they knew how. I have since gotten into the habit of saying ‘Please make sure to document this if it isn’t already’ when-ever I delegate anything. In some businesses a simple FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page will suffice. Other businesses use larger systems like a Knowledgebase or a Wiki. No matter what you use, make sure that your clients and staff know where they can find information that they need without asking you for it.
  3. Is this something that can be automated?
    9 times out of 10 the answer is probably going to be yes. With a little time and effort I am willing to bet that most things related to the daily support of your clients in your business can be automated. If you are in a service industry, you might not be able to automate the actual service … but I am confident that there are many things that can be automated surrounding it. As a quick example… I used to keep track of all the time I spent on every task manually, and then invoice my clients manually after pulling in all of those tasks as line items into invoices within QuickBooks. I have since automated that entire process so that when I start any task, the timer starts automatically. Timesheets are sent weekly to my clients, and invoices are created and sent based on those timesheets. This works for me as well as any of my staff with zero effort. I used to spend hours every week reviewing varied timesheets and invoices sent to me by all my contractors and then placing all that information into invoices to send to my clients. I don’t do that anymore, and now I have more time to focus on working ON my business instead of IN my business.

I hope that this post was helpful and begins to clarify the direction that I want to take you on your own journey to personal freedom! Stay tuned for the next post in the series, and please let me know in comments what you are using to help you develop a personal freedom mindset!

Find out more about projects that I’m working on here, and stay tuned for the next post in the series!


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