It’s Time to Give Yourself the Gift of Time


Written by Danielle Putnam

“Mom, why do you always work so much?” Her four-year-old, angelic voice questioned.

Instantly, my brain began to fire off a very believable defense, a list of…excuses.

“I’m not always working, Lyla, but you kids constantly make a mess that I have to pick up, and Palmer just pooped her pants then pooped the extra on the bathroom floor ‘cause she thought it looked like chocolate mousse, and the puppies just got out, so I have to go chase them, and Luke, the baby, is swinging on top of the kitchen table on the chandelier and….”

I stopped…fortunately, I stopped before the words left my mouth. As defensive as I wanted to be, and as full of excuses as I knew I was, that’s all they were…excuses. My sweet four-year-old wasn’t asking for excuses; she was asking for my time. What a wake-up call.

Mind you, this happened tonight, and it’s a Sunday. I don’t work my ‘job’ work on Sundays until well after my kids are in bed, so my daughter wasn’t questioning my ‘work’ work. She was questioning my lack of presence. She was questioning the fact that I was more concerned with chaos control than just being with the family in the midst of it all.

A man in Mauli once said, “You Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time.”

Understanding your 8-5 or 7-7 is a self-created box…there is no box, but there are a fluid 24 hours in a day. How do you want to spend them? We so frequently hear about time management techniques, but the truth is, we can’t manage time. We can only manage how we use our time, and the day will end regardless. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but time passes regardless of how we use it, and we don’t always use it in the way that most fulfills our souls. What a waste! Someone told me recently that most employees spend their entire workday just glancing at the clock, counting down to see how long until they get to go home. Do we really think that if that’s the case, everyone at the office, owners, and managers included, are actually completely productive and efficient? Come on, admit it. You’ve spent an hour just clicking between the different folders in your email, too, haven’t you? If we gave ourselves a better work/life balance, we’d be less obsessive with the concept of getting home and far more productive during actual work hours.

I’m currently working harder on pre-planning my tasks to be at peak productivity…when I need to be. And then, I’m also working at pre-planning my family time, including vacations, to enjoy who and what is truly important to me—my husband and my three beautiful children, my joys.

What a blessing to be headed into the Holiday season—Thanksgiving, and not even a blink after, Christmas…and then a New Year.

And what a blessing that we still have a minute to consider our priorities. I know I’m currently re-assessing mine!

Progress tricked us into trusting it – then it exhausted us. We work day in and day out being busy, sometimes just being busy for the sake of being busy. It burns us out. It steals our joy. It consumes our thoughts and our time. And if we’re being honest, sometimes, our vision is unclear; we are working towards nothing and spending a lot of time doing it. Then we get home and think about all that we still have to do. We can’t put the work and the busy down, even when it’s time for our brains to clock out.

There is no such thing as work/life balance in America today unless you create it. You create that balance by pre-scheduling what’s truly important to you and by saying no to the rat race of being a constant fireman, putting out fire after fire as the superhero in your business. Sure, it makes us all feel good to be the hero. Give yourself a pat on the back for a second, and acknowledge the fact that, yes, you really are good at solving everyone’s problems. But then quickly stop patting your back as the recognition of time slips through your fingers – when you’re busy putting out other people’s fires in reactionary mode, you’re missing out on what’s truly important to you. And sometimes, you’re pouring gasoline on the fire in the process because you haven’t given those fires proper headspace anyway.

I recommend using a daily affirmation to begin finding and understanding what’s truly important to you. For example, if you want your business to run by itself so you can enjoy the holidays, then you proclaim it in your affirmations each morning by writing it down in your notebook. Then once you have your affirmation written down, set your priorities and to-dos for the day around that affirmation. If what you are working to accomplish in your day doesn’t get you closer to your affirmation, it probably isn’t the most important thing you could be doing with your time. For example: “My business runs with ease. I enjoy time off with the confidence that my business is running itself. I have a clear dashboard, so I can check in easily to know the health of my business at any time.”

Now, let’s be honest. The majority of us do not have this super-efficient, easy-as-pie, running itself type of business. But writing the future down in a daily affirmation will help you focus your mind on prioritizing the work items you need to keep front and center so you can begin to establish the pieces to build what you want your future to look like.

During this holiday season, I can’t help but recognize how many businesses have become what I call “The Machine,” and The Machine of being busy is sucking away our joy and the lifestyle we crave.

Instead of growing your business for that future exit and Hail Mary payday, why not run your business as a lifestyle business, so you and your family – those important to you – can enjoy your today instead of running in a constant race for tomorrow? Life is a journey…but it is not a race. Do yourself a favor and slow down.

Our barriers do not lack commitment but over-commitment; we have more commitments than time. And do you know the one commitment that is absolutely true? Your time will run out. Are you making it count?


Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Simplify Now, Diversify Later

My six-year-old has enjoyed…or hated, and I’m not sure…a summer filled with ‘summer camps.’ She’s too young to be working with mom every day, not that I wouldn’t have her answer the phone, but she doesn’t read yet, so typing articles and sending emails…well…let’s give her a few years. I couldn’t stomach the idea of her laying on a couch at her grandma’s watching TV all summer long, so lo and behold, I signed her up for everything I could find: art camp, “Singing in the Rain” camp, “Beauty and the Beast” camp, Bible camp, swimming lessons, and finally, this week, the grand finale of them all…MUD CAMP! She’s waited all summer long for mud camp at the Tennessee Aquarium; meeting new animals, discovering the ecosystems in mud puddles, exploring through the Chattanooga Nature Center, riding a school bus for the very first time! All of these things have been much anticipated…all summer.

So, I’m sure you can imagine with me my surprise when each day this week as I picked her up from mud camp and eagerly awaited the download of her day…silence. Nada. That’s right, a big fat nothing. Too tired to communicate, she climbed into my SUV each day, buckled herself in, and zoned into the abyss on the 45-minute car ride home. I couldn’t believe it!!! I mean, come on, at least tell me all this crazy schedule rearranging, and my co-working from a different office has been worth it!! At least tell me you’re having fun!


Until yesterday, remember, she’s six. The first words she uttered on the way home yesterday? “I’m in love. His name is Owen; we shared popcorn today.” *Insert her giggles here.*


And just like that, she’s in love. Definitely not the moment I’d been waiting for.

You know, something else that isn’t the moment we’ve all been waiting for? That moment your customers call you in the heat of summer to complain about something your guys did that wasn’t even in the original scope of work! And now your week is backed up triple calls thick, fixing problems created by your team instead of responding to profitable repair and replacement calls.

That’s right, left-field curveball coming at you – it’s time to get to the meat of what I’m really excited to share with you today.

The number one relationship killer is unrealistic expectations.

Something that’s been inspiring me lately is the Inc. Best Book for Business Owners, Built to Sell. In Built to Sell, they make a recurring point, “You must have a sales engine that will produce predictable recurring revenue.” The word recurring can be taken in many ways, and I’m not talking about ‘recurring’ incoming from service agreement billings. I’m talking about recurring predictable service calls, even if they’re with a multitude of customers.

Stay with me here. It’s summer, the phones are ringing off the hook, and you have the opportunities right in front of your nose to make back the money you lost in the spring, or last fall, during the slow times. Watch out, don’t get busy with the wrong calls. We’ve said this before in our YouTube video, ‘Creative Call Taking,’ but this is an entirely different angle. What I mean is, watch out for the specialty calls. Don’t get stuck in the “super-specialty” scenarios right now that drain the energy out of your team and have possible room for error. Save the specialties for the fall when you’re open to diversifying. Otherwise, you risk doing those calls halfway or at less than your top quality, which could mean losing those customers in the future.  

Right now, focus on the bare-bones basic relevancy of what you do. For example, you’re a plumbing company, and you do plumbing really well. This isn’t to say that you should be doing “drive-thru,” low-quality service. That should never happen. And it doesn’t mean only doing basic repairs either. But what it does mean is that right now, it’s not the time to be extending beyond your wheelhouse. It’s the time to do what you’re best at over and over so you can maximize the efficiency of your team.  

Standardize your priority services now so you can charge upfront, and always do charge upfront. In the busy season, productize your services and cherry-pick the dispatch board for the calls you know your team does really well with and will be profitable for your company. Not only that but on those calls, track the leads for those that you could offer more diverse services to in the slow season.

Because in the slow season, that’s the time when you can afford to branch out into more specialty and add-on services; that’s when you diversify simply because it’s business, and it’s the job of the CEO to find the money and opportunities for the business. 

This is when you take the time to develop even greater expertise in those specialty jobs and new types of jobs so you can hone the craft while the demand is low…and then you’re able to carry your improvements and your new skills into upcoming seasons. 

Eventually, those might become part of your basic services, too, but the busy season is not the time to try your hand at the next obscure skill. Is this way of thinking too inconsistent for our customers? What’s wrong with scheduling ‘specialty’ services in the fall? Custom services don’t scale, and when you’re busy, you need to be scalable.

Call me crazy, but not for my focused ideas. Call me crazy cause I’m a mother trying to figure out how to get her six-year-old out of love and talking about alligators and river otters again!


Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Seven Steps to Create Lasting Change

“This morning, my sister left the toilet seat down! Women make men miserable.” – The Little Rascals

Earlier this week, I found myself browsing Netflix late into the night. Oddly enough, I was searching for inspiration, something funny. I nearly woke my husband and three sleeping children by laughing when Buckwheat announced to his woman-hating man club that his sister left the toilet seat down. I laughed…because of perspective. Naturally, my whole life has been, “Ugh, men leave the toilet seat up.” I laughed because both breeds are annoyed! Perspective. And until that moment, I never realized that men might be annoyed with me, too! Perspective.

Perspective ultimately leads to success or failure in your life.

I love summer. How could anyone not love summer? For all of you HVAC friends, you’re in your heyday, the phones ringing off the hook, and you can’t get to all the calls on the board. But then again, you’re either loving it…or hating it…perspective.

And it’s that perspective, that ‘positive’ perspective which seeks success, that begs the question, “how do we create lasting change, so we can keep this heyday from ending?”


Seven Steps to Creating Lasting Change

Ditch the excuses if you don’t have enough money, time, or friends. The excuses won’t bring them any closer. Tomorrow is always tomorrow, and one year from now is always a year away. Be specific with measurable and realistic goals…tied to a time-stamped day.

And if you really want lasting change and a more successful business next year, manifest your dream. Act with these steps:


  1. VISION – Clarity is Power

Are you being hypnotized by TV, Facebook, texting, emailing, and staying ‘busy’ but not productive? Choose to be fully present in life and your work. Take a day and count out loud how many times you have the urge to reach out and grab your phone, even when it isn’t ringing. Every time you do, you’re pushing your goals another moment away from you. Control your vision! With that measurable and realistic, time-stamped goal you set, ensure that everything you do is one bite-sized piece that gets you that much closer to it. In the end, if you are a victim, you’re the author of it. Every step you take will determine your success, and if your vision is clear, you’ll know immediately if your day-to-day actions are aligned with your goals or not.



This is where your excitement, passion, and emotion live! Your state of feeling good attracts that which you desire. Happiness is a choice, and more importantly, the ability to reach your goals is a choice—if you truly want it and aren’t just setting your goals as an obligation, you are more likely to achieve them. And seek to master what you desire – mastery doesn’t just happen – mastery knows very little about most things – they focus their attention on areas of expertise. Focus on the strengths that are most likely to help you get what you desire.



Recognize your limiting beliefs; for example: “I don’t have the family business family last name, so I’ll never be a leader in the company.” We have all heard that famous Henry Ford quote: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” Earn your place. Prove your abilities. And encourage yourself with positive self-talk. The Mayo Clinic says that positive self-talk can decrease depression and increase your lifespan. So even if you don’t believe that it increases your ability to do better, wouldn’t more time in your life alone help you get there? What are your limiting beliefs?



Start by accepting yourself first. Accept your belief, acknowledge your limiting belief, and then counter it with its opposite truth. Flip the narrative! “I don’t have the means to do this” can be flipped to “creativity and ingenuity come from desperation!” “I will be a leader in this company because I’ve worked hard and have mastered my skill; I am worthy.” Tell yourself your affirmation at least once a day until you believe it and until it’s the only thing you can hear.



Will-power goes a long way. You can want something in life but not intend to have it. Will-power is developed from adding the hope to have something plus the intention to do anything necessary to get it. But don’t confuse it with work ethic – it’s not just work ethic that will get you where you want to be; you must be intentional and laser-focused. No matter what happens to you in life, you redirect your focus towards what you intend to be.



Is your behavior in alignment with what you wish to be? Take small, reasonable steps each day that pushes you closer to your goal, and remember that there is more than one way to arrive at your destination. If you come to a bump in the road, look for ways not just to go over it, but through it, around it, under it, or take a different detour altogether. And go back a step to recognize; sometimes it’s not an action, it’s a belief issue.



It takes a tremendous amount of effort to hold onto an expectation—efforts that could be spent getting you to what you actually want. If you want love, don’t hold onto it; be love. Have intensity for what you want with no expectation that it has to happen.

Small shifts in perspective can turn you around from dreaming to achieving.

It’s perspective. In our niche industry, our trades, let’s stop being a big fish in a small pond. Be a small fish in a big pond, so you have room to grow! It’s perspective.


Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Goldfish and Business Myths

My dad went to the pet shop and purchased 15 goldfish over the summer. He doesn’t have an aquarium; he’s never been into ‘fish,’ but he thought his grandkids (who happened to be spending a lot of time at his house over the summer months while out of school) would enjoy swimming in the hot tub with the fish! As you could guess, in Georgia, in the summer, the family hot tub becomes a cold tub and is used more for a grandkid splash pool on the deck. 

I saw a few Facebook posts of him showing off the goldfish and watching certain grandkids with goggles paddling around in the tub – heck, it looked like fun – and naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my two girls (ages five and three) over to visit for their turn of fun. 

Their turn of fun came, and at the end, the tantrums began. Who would want to load up in a car to go home? Who would want to obey their mother and leave a ‘swimming pool filled with fish?’ Sigh—the exaggerations of a child’s mind. 

Grandpa quickly gauged what was happening and swiftly chimed in, “Oh no worries, girls! You can each take a fish home with you!” as I dramatically shook my head ‘no!’ in the background. 

Naturally, I sent the two fish immediately to the “other grandparents’ home” so when the kids were there after school, they could spend time with their fish – and the other grandparents fed, cared for, and kept the fish alive until one day, one died.

But there was still one fish left – a goldfish, and he or she, I’m not sure which gender, was white. And quite ugly at that. 

Fast forward, the other grandparents went out of town, and somehow, the solo white goldfish ended up at my house, in its bowl with pink rock pebbles decorating the bottom. 

At first, I refused to care for the fish – I told my daughters each day, “Feed your fish!” 

I taught them to simply use one small pinch of their fingers to drop the food in the bowl each evening. “Careful now, not too much; if you overfeed a goldfish, it will die; its stomach will explode.” And then, each week when the water was too thick to see through, I’d set out another bowl of water overnight and move the fish to the new bowl the next morning – why? I don’t know. Somewhere along the way, I’d heard as a child that it would kill a fish to put them in cold water immediately, so you had to let it sit overnight to achieve ‘room temperature water’ before transferring the fish into the clean ‘tank.’ 

I don’t even recall owning a pet fish as a child, so how did I have such opinions as to its care? 

And of course, I knew the myth we all know: “Goldfish can only grow to the size of their fishbowl.” 

Want a bigger fish? Get a bigger fishbowl! 

Sound familiar? 

“Want a bigger company? Just hire more techs!” 
“Want to be at $100 million in revenue? Easy! Just get a bigger building; be a bigger company!”


Myth busters, according to a goldfish, would laugh in our faces. 

What really stunts a goldfish’s growth is not the size of its bowl but the poor water quality and improper care. 

There’s more than meets the eye. Under the right conditions, goldfish are a fantastic species of fish to keep. They are hardy, adaptable, long-lived, and have an extensive and interesting history, just like us service providers. 

And they’re smart, too. Goldfish can be taught to pull a lever for food! In a lever experiment involving goldfish, they were even able to realize within an hour that if the lever stopped producing, it wasn’t worth pulling anymore. 

My non-fish owning years as a child also taught me that goldfish don’t have memories – no big deal if they have dirty water and die easily; they don’t remember their day-to-day. Wow, what airwaves was I listening to? In my research today about goldfish, I’m learning their memory lasts up to three months – so swimming around in a fishbowl all day, lapping circle after circle is indeed very boring. 

In a matter of weeks, I went from being a cold-hearted, busy working mom with an irritation towards goldfish to a mother who enjoys sitting quietly by the fishbowl in the mornings. Not only do I now call the fish my own, but I turn the lamp on above his or her bowl in the mornings when it’s quiet and the children aren’t pulling at my hem; I nestle in while it’s still dark outside underneath the lamp on a grey couch in my den, and slowly sip my coffee. I’ve become obsessed with keeping the fishbowl clean, and in those mornings, I’m noticing how pretty the ugly duckling actually is. In fact, I think I’ve actually named the fish—Ginger.

And wouldn’t you know it, I’m starting to know when Ginger is hungry! When I walk by, and she gives me those eyes while opening and closing her mouth, I’m reminded of feeding time. 

I’ve changed from a fish hater to a fish appreciator – I now have the habit engraved in my morning schedule to spend time with my fish. 

As business owners, how much of our marketing, our management, our day-to-day, is run out of the myths from our childhood? 

Hear me out— this is really deep stuff here, no fish-bowl-deep-water pun intended. As the daughter of a contractor, how many perspectives did I gain because of my father that were good? How many habits for running a business did I inherit that was priceless? And on the other hand, how many myths did I also receive by generational pass down? 

Dirty water and poor filtration stunt a fish’s growth because it affects their health – an unhealthy fish becomes deformed and dies young. Healthy goldfish have been known to live for up to 49 years. 

Goldfish can grow big even in a small fishbowl if the water is clean, filtrated, and the fish is properly nourished. Is the nourishment of our business based on myths we believed as an early manager or young owner? As Charlie Greer says, “Evolve or Die.” 

So, in case you are fishing for a few simple takeaways, here’s the list:

1. The health of your business is only as good as its environment. 

2. The only way for your business to stay alive or grow is for you to nurture it and take care of it.  

3. The things you have always been told about being in business or about the industry might actually be myths; don’t be afraid to research, change, and grow when your business gives you “those eyes,” telling you it’s hungry for something more.

4. Try to re-see your business as you did on the first day, stuffed to the gills with those childlike exaggerations and dreams in your head again.


P.S. I’ve got a bunch of extra coffee cups—I’m serious—from a recent over shipment – can I send you one? Shoot me an email requesting a cup, and you’ll receive it in the mail along with a one-page myth-buster report on Goldfish, simply because it’s cool. Looking forward to hearing from you. 


Written by Danielle Putnam, President of The New Flat Rate and Immediate Past President of Women in HVACR

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Am I A Bad Parent?

By Danielle Putnam

A friend of mine is about to open her first restaurant. Well, not really. She’s a long way from being ready to open the doors. But the framing for the kitchen and bar area has been set. Now, for all of you entrepreneurs out there, I’m sure you can agree with me…that’s progress, right?

So earlier this week, before the sheetrock was mounted, she texted a group of friends and asked us to come write words of blessings on the frame boards. Naturally, on a Monday night after a long day in daycare, my three-year-old did not want to go with me to some other location away from her toys and her room to write words of blessing on someone’s skeleton wall. In attempts to appeal to my three-year-old, I said these words, “Palmer, please come with me to a really cool space, and then afterward we will come home and play with your toys!” She happily walked toward the car.

As we approached the building, which was an old brick warehouse if you can imagine the type, my daughter, Palmer asks, “Mom, may I have a purple one?” Purple is her favorite color, she always wants a purple one…but a purple what? “Mom, may I have a purple space helmet?” I thought to myself, “Oh isn’t that cute, she’s so imaginative, she’s pretending she’s an astronaut!” To which I responded, “Yes, of course you can have a purple space helmet!”

Fast forward a few steps as we entered the building, and she instantly cried aloud in terror, “Where are they? They’re not here!” I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I quickly handed her a purple marker and sent her toward the 2×4’s to make her mark.

Thirty minutes later, after she’d colored every board she could find, we attempted to leave, and a tantrum broke out. My sweet Palmer was screaming in hysterics with tears streaming down her face and all the other moms stared at me as if to cast blame because I couldn’t control my child. But wait a minute, why was she crying?

It still hadn’t occurred to me, the words I had spoken to her. I had said earlier, “Let’s go check out a cool space.” She had said, “May I have a purple space helmet?” Wait, what? It was all coming together now; I began to see why she was crying as she kept hollering for her purple space helmet. The purple space helmet I had promised her when we got to that really cool ‘space’.



How often do we spend our precious hard-earned money on marketing and market the wrong message?

We have good intentions, but good intentions do not clarify the message nor the expectation. When we market a new product, service, or discount, are we also asking ourselves, “How would my customer receive or interpret this message?”

Going back to the basics is hard. Stepping outside of our busy lives is hard. Our phones are ringing, texts are dinging, technicians are calling, office staff is calling, everyone wants to push their agenda onto your plate, but to make sure it’s not all in vain, to make sure we’re reaching our target, we must step outside of the busy noise and ask ourselves to first:

  • Clarify the message
  • Simplify the message
  • Maximize the message
  • Multiply the message

More than likely, you’ve heard this before. I live and breath this, and still I get it wrong. We fail forward daily, but in our failing, we also succeed when we slow down and say, “Hey, wait a minute, ‘what’s the message I need my audience to understand and how does it benefit them?’”

Marketing fundamentals were established for a reason, just like parenthood. Listen to your child and don’t promise without understanding what you’re promising.

So of course, I’m off to find the latest and greatest space helmet so I can redeem my child’s faith and confidence in her mother, so she can TRUST that I do what I say…just as we all want our customers to trust that we’re providing what our messaging promised.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service to see if there are Success Days in your area!