Creating work-life balance while running a small business
For refrigeration technician Rae Scott, starting a small business wasn’t about striking it rich, it was about making a decent living on his own terms, and creating that same opportunity for his employees.
“It’s more the pride of ownership,” says Rae, owner of Mid-West Refrigeration Ltd. “I’m doing it for me and that’s worth way more than anything else.”
For Amanda, Rae’s wife and business partner, the appeal was the convenience and freedom of making a schedule that allows for a good work-life balance.
“I realized that I could create a healthy work environment for myself and potential employees,” she says, adding that as a people person she naturally wants to please her customers.
Day-to-day business activities for Mid-West Refrigeration involve travelling around their midwestern Ontario service area to provide heating, cooling and refrigeration quotes, installation, maintenance, and repairs to their commercial and residential customers.
Even before starting his own company, Rae had built a solid reputation as the technician who can fix things others can’t. Over time, Rae began to recognize that his skills were unique and in high-demand. In fact, he and Amanda spent the better part of six years moving between Ontario and Alberta to pursue lucrative job opportunities. It was a final two-year stint in Alberta that allowed them to fill their bank account, buy a truck, and finally start their own business.
They set up shop in the hamlet of Holyrood, Ontario, right before Covid-19 hit. Fortunately, the essential nature the heating and cooling business meant they weathered the pandemic better than others. In fact, they ended up hiring an additional technician to help Rae with the service calls.
From the outset, Rae and Amanda felt it was important to be the kind of boss they’d like to have. Besides fair compensation, they gave their employee a company vehicle to use, a flexible work week to accommodate his family needs, and different referral bonuses.
“We try to be easy and kind people to work for,” says Rae. “We’re not terribly pushy and if we’re doing good, we try to pass that along.”
In turn, Rae credits his employee with giving him back his work-life balance. Prior to that, all he had time to do was make service calls, never mind making future business plans, or keeping up with all the paperwork, which was causing its own headaches.
As with many small business owners, Rae and Amanda took turns at keeping their own books. For a little while, it worked out, until it started hindering their success. Electronic records were not accurate, and it was creating unnecessary stress, especially around tax time.
“It was a lot,” recalls Rae. “It just got to the point where that was it: for what it was going to cost, we could hire somebody else deal with it, someone that knows what they’re doing.”
As FBC Tax Members, Rae and Amanda were already receiving professional accounting and tax prep help. They decided to sign up for FBC’s bookkeeping support and, eventually payroll. They have zero regrets about outsourcing this work to professionals.
“We are much more organized,” says Amanda, about life after working with Eldon, their FBC consultant. “Eldon is exceptional, personable, and easy to talk to. He is always available and happy to help.”
With the frustration of administrative paperwork behind them, Rae and Amanda have the breathing room they need to start working toward their version of long-term success.
“I hope to achieve a happy and continuously growing client base,” says Amanda, when thinking about the future.
“Success is about keeping these people, my employees, and myself happy.”
For Rae, it means having space to apply the sage advice a former boss gave him.
“You got to be able to say, ‘no,” says Rae, about prioritizing work-life balance. “When work comes in, you don’t want so much of it that you never have time for yourself. You’ve got to know what can wait, and what needs to be done right now.”
To that end, Rae’s long-term goals include hiring another technician to help off-set some of their growing service calls. This would also allow Rae to do less of the physical work and create a future where the business almost runs itself. He would love to eventually ease into retirement and enjoy life with Amanda.
FBC is proud to have earned the trust of the Rae and Amanda and wish them continued success, prosperity, and, of course, work-life balance.
To learn more about the Mid-West Refrigeration or see if you’re in their midwestern Ontario service area, you can connect with them on Facebook: Mid-West Refrigeration