So what can you do to help your business from going down the tubes due to time-wasters in the office and in the field?

You can choose to buy software and computer tracking programs that can see just how much time is being spent on which programs. You can limit access to certain websites. After all, it’s your computer. This actually worked great awhile back. But with the advent of everyone carrying a smart phone loaded pretty much with a limitless data plan, employees are no longer fazed. Those employees who get wind of this tracking end up using their smart phones to bypass your computer, so they can handle the pressing need to check their status and post some pictures online.

You can have cameras on people all over the place and record everything at any time of the day. Of course that really does come off as spying on people and it screams, “I’m watching you.” Or worse, “I don’t trust you.” Besides, who’s going to watch all of this?

You can time track field employees by GPS tracking or even track them on their company-provided cell phones. Software that is tied to this can also see about productivity.

All of this comes down to the hard balance between accountability and spying on people.


Us vs. Them

To me, I feel it’s great to use technology but you must let staff know that you’re doing it. The worst thing that can happen is they find out on their own what you’ve been doing to check on/spy on them. This will cause a giant us vs. them rift between management and employees.

Nothing good will come of this. I’ve seen it all too often when I first arrive to do consulting. I learn of this because I conduct one-to-one interviews with a good sampling of the staff where they know that what they say remains strictly confidential. The conversation quickly turns to us vs. them and they are more than a little bit angry with their bosses.

Proactively, I believe that office design done right, the way I teach it, you can reduce these issues with visual accountability. There needs to be everyone down on one level, no ivory tower management that is disconnected from employees. There needs to be an open floor space with a minimal of closed doors in an open seating plan.

The goal is to have people sitting in the building determined strictly by the Organizational Chart. The managers must be in close proximity to those they manage. It’s not about spying but being there to be in touch with what’s going on, lending support when necessary, seeing how time is being spent and trying to catch them doing something good and making a big deal out of it.

People actually like when you pay attention, but only if it’s more about complimenting them than criticizing them.

Doing ride-alongs with Techs is helpful in so many ways you won’t believe it. Being side-by-side, encourages people in the field to feel like they’re part of the team. One of my clients told me he had a great way to improve his ride-alongs. He made it a goal to let them know they are appreciated for what they do and he gave them a great reputation to live up to. This he found actually got his troops to perform better. I believe just being there with them also encourages this right kind of behavior.

It’s also vital that you recognize that employees like to be treated like grownups and not kids. I learned this lesson many years ago when I found myself fuming because my guys would load up for a job early and then pull up the block and proceed to hang out at the coffee shop vs. proceeding to the job. Finally, I said to the team, “I’m not your dad. You can stop for coffee and do whatever, but you need to be at the jobsite [if they were an installer] or first service call [if they were a service tech] within 30 minutes of the start of day.” They were now in charge of managing their time accordingly and all I checked on was whether they called in when they arrived in the correct timeframe.

Finally, I am a firm believer that you “Can’t expect what you’re unwilling to inspect.” That means you have to be amongst the team as management to see what is and isn’t going on. The good news is this builds a better team culture and that is what separates ordinary shops and great shops.

Read here for Checking in vs. snooping — Part 1.

Is Your Business Running Your Life?

Probably! What should you do? Call Al. But, don’t take my word for it:

Actually went on vacation for two weeks in the middle of my busy season! I would have never thought it was possible running an HVAC business to leave the business and celebrate my anniversary during our peak cooling season. But I did. And now I actually get to spend quality time on weekends with family and pick up my kids from daycare three days a week by 5:30 PM. When I was away, I was able to check in on the office remotely once in the morning and once in the evening. 

This is all possible because of the work I did with Al. Life is good. He said the results I desired would come from Operating Power! and the other work we had done together. And they did. Now, I’m looking forward to reaping the rewards of the next Power Programs ahead. And as always I’m thankful for what Al does for contractors like me.” 

Adrian Stephenson, President
Comfort Services
Raleigh, NC


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Al Levi has been helping contractors solve problems and turn greater profits while making it possible for them to get their lives and free time back. To discover more, visit

And also check out Al’s latest business adventure as part of Zoom Franchise Company at