Reclaiming Saturdays for our Family

David Michael Latt

Ever since Andrea went back to cosmetology school, and since starting the salon business in 2017, she has had to work on Saturdays.

We made it work because I have the weekend off and could watch the kids, while she was either working or going to school. This schedule worked out well for several years, but it eventually started to weigh down on us.

It required us to decide on what was most important to us, and how the next 5-10 years was going to look. In this article I take a close look at our thought process and what we ended up landing on.

Spending Time Together

Andrea had Sundays and Mondays off, while I had Saturdays and Sundays off.

What this meant was we only had one full day together as a family. Outside of that, our schedules were sporadic. We tried to do what we could to connect as a family on Sundays, but by that point, both of us were drained.

But more importantly, we realized this schedule was not matching up with our most important priority: our girls. They are seven and ten years old and aren't going to be young forever. Once this time passes, you can't get it back.

We started wondering if there was another option that still allows us to increase our income (so we could save more) and spend more quality time with our children.

Sacrificing Profits for Time

The main reason Andrea worked on Saturdays after launching a salon was all about making her available when most people didn't have to work. Saturdays were usually always busy, and people would call in to see about when the next opening on Saturday was.

When starting the business, this made sense. We had no idea how busy Andrea was going to be, and we wanted to make sure she was available when people wanted to book appointments.

In 2018, the salon business did reasonably well. We were bringing home some nice profit, and the salon business was growing. After looking at Andrea's schedule, we decided to try the following plan:

  • Taking Saturdays and Sundays off
  • Changing her hours to be 12 PM – 8 PM on two days a week. This schedule provided some time people could book after they get off of work.
  • Work Monday – Friday

Andrea was working the same amount of hours but on different days. We were nervous at how people were going to respond to this, and we needed to give it some time to see how it played out.

It's is scary when you run your own business, and trying to figure out how changing your available time is going to affect the bottom line.

The great news is that I don't think eliminating Saturday's from Andrea's schedule hurt the bottom line all that much. We went through a slow period last month, but that would not have been improved much either way.

Customer Response

The customer response was excellent. Everyone understood why she didn't want to work on Saturdays so she could spend more time with her family.

It took some time for people to adjust to the new schedule, but after 3-4 months, we can safely say that it has not had a hugely negative impact on the business.

One aspect that helped with this transition is that Andrea does excellent work. People know that she is top quality as far as hair coloring and eyelash extension services. People know that she is not the cheapest on the market, but that they can expect the best when they go to her.

When you do good work and know that over time you will get more clients from referrals, it is much easier to set a schedule that works best for you.

Andrea has also started getting better at saying “no” to specific requests. Sometimes it makes sense for her to fit in additional appointments early in the morning or the evening to make extra money. But she is learning not to feel obligated to do these things. Her schedule has started to get fully booked two-weeks out, so this has become a new (good) problem.

Family Time

Having this extra day together has increased the quality time we spend as a family. This time includes yard work, errands, staying up late, and more date nights.

I can't tell you how much benefit we have seen from having Andrea take off Saturdays. Our weekends are much less stressful, and we have much more quality time together. Especially as the weather is warming up, we are spending more time outside. We purchased baseball gear so we can play catch and play as a family.

It also provides us a time where we can do our own thing without feeling like we aren't connecting. Andrea's job is very social, so she needs some time to be by herself to refuel.

It felt a little weird when Andrea had Mondays off while I had to work and the girls were at school. In a lot of ways, it felt like we were living separate lives.

Weighing Options

There are going to be specific job fields that require working in the evenings and on the weekends. With some of these jobs, you don't have the option in taking weekends off.

Every situation is going to be different. Maybe you decide that having a job that takes your weekend time is worth it for the income you bring in. Or perhaps you don't have kids, and the weekends or evenings aren't as vital during this stage in your life.

And you might get to a point where taking a job that pays less but frees up some family time is worth slowing down your savings rate. There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you are intentional on how you use your time.

But I will say that it can be easy to prioritize income above everything else. There is a point where making more money is not worth the cost. If I had to do a ton of traveling every month for my job, even if I made double the amount of money, would make me second guess whether that is the right decision. Especially considering we have two kids and run a business together.

Each option you consider will most likely have benefits and cons. You need to wade through the options and see what works best with where you are at in life. If you are married, this needs to be a conversation that you have together.

Increasing the Value of Work Hours

I'm going to go into some specifics that relate to the work Andrea does, as it is crucial in growing our income and business.

Since we know this new schedule at the salon will work, we are now trying to optimize the time she has set aside to work to generate as much income as possible during the week. This plan involves eliminating as many “gaps” in her schedule and promoting the services that are the most profitable, and this also means getting rid of bad clients.

Below is how I would describe bad clients, which is specific to service-based businesses:

  • People who continuously cancel appointments. We have a 24-hour cancellation policy, but we also know that sometimes unexpected things happen. We want to be gracious, but we also can't have someone on the schedule who always finds a reason to cancel their appointments.
  • A client who is always looking for deals and hand-outs. Andrea is at the top of her field. If they can't appreciate the quality and value she provides, they most likely want the best but are not willing to pay for it.
  • People who are never happy, even with the best. These types of clients are overly critical and are typically never satisfied.

By focusing on clients who respect Andreas time and the value she brings, reduces the number of canceled appointments and issues stemming from difficult clients. This plan increases the amount of money she makes per hour, and it opens up the possibility of focusing on the services she wants in the future.

I don't want the above to come across as harsh, because Andrea appreciates all of her clients. But it seems a small number of people can cause the most problems and headaches. To get rid of clients she doesn't want, requires tact and skill in how to approach. Especially in the age of social media, it can be easy for a pissed off client to air their frustrations (even when not valid) online, which can affect future business.

Honestly, that is the main reason we have a 24-hour cancellation policy. If the client does not cancel within 24-hours, we can charge their card for 50% of the service. This cancelation policy in itself has a way in weeding out most of the clients we don't want.

Intentional Time

The next phase in our transition with this new schedule is to figure out how to get the most out of our weekends.

I'm learning the more we can stay ahead of household chores during the week, the more time we have available to do other things during the weekends. We also like to double team larger tasks, like yard work, to save time and have fun together.

We started watching more TV during the weekend, which isn't all bad. But I would like to find ways to be more interactive as a family and get outside more. I don't want to micromanage our weekends, but I do want to improve communicating priorities and being more intentional about things we can do together as a family.

We've started biking every weekend and spending more time outdoors with our dogs. I know this isn't going to last when mosquitoes start to come out, but I do want to spend more time exploring the trails around our house. We are very fortunate to have such easy access to nature in big sky country.

The critical point I'm trying to realize is how valuable weekends have become for us as a family. It's a time where we don't have to worry about the same work stress we encounter during the week, and we should use it to create a stronger bond as a family.

Do you work on the weekends? How does this effect your relationships?

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