Remodelers Advantage

Ep.104: [Unscripted Back-Up] How to Hit Healthy Net Profits in any Economic Climate with Mike Medford Sr.

Editor’s note: We’re all working from our homes, away from the friendly confines of the office and its podcasting studio. So we dug into the virtual vault to bring you this episode. We’re in an uncertain time for many remodelers, so here’s some advice that will help you weather any business climate.

One of our core principles is that remodeling companies should make a good net profit, after paying the owners an above-average salary. When the economy’s booming, you can get away with a lot and still hit those goals, sometimes by accident. But the goal is to get those healthy net profits consistently, year after year, even in a downturn.

In this episode, Mike Medford Sr. talks to Victoria and Mark about how to do just that. Before seeing the metrics of the Top Ten Roundtables members a few years ago, Mike says his financials were always in flux. But then he took those figures and made them hard targets.

Mike Medford Sr. has been a home remodeling contractor for over 40 years. In 2007, he partnered with his son, Mike Jr. to form what is now Medford Design Build, with offices in Colleyville and Arlington, TX. Mike Sr. is the president of Medford Design Build.

Mike challenged himself and his team to hit the new fixed targets. He refined their processes and challenged his team to hit those targets. By the next quarterly meeting, the company’s profits were rising. He talks about how he and his team made it happen, including:

  • Creating a profit-centric culture
  • How net profits will help you beat the labor shortage
  • Focusing your staff on gross profit
  • The importance of open books to the process
  • Setting up a bonus structure
  • Building time in to plan
  • And more…

Mike also talks about getting back to the art of contracting and how important that is to your margins.

Time to Give Back

After more than 30 years of working with some of the finest Remodelers and Renovators in the business, we are facing new challenges in our industry. We want to give back to an industry that has supported us through good times and bad, and so we’ve created Build Aid, a free event to help support our members, associates, and friends in the remodeling community.

Join us on April 1-2 as we explore various ways your business can navigate these tough times, and position yourselves as a leader when the world begins to recover and re-build.
Click Here to Learn More & Register >>

Ep.103: Positive Growth in Difficult Situations with Kathy O’Brien

We talk about the J Curve a lot around here — picture a lower-case J. When you apply change principles to your business — new people, systems, and processes — they can initially send your business on a downward trajectory before soaring with your success. If you want to grow your company, listen carefully!

Our guest today breaks this process down into four stages of development:

  • Forming: The getting to know you stage
  • Storming: When conflicts arise (the bottom of the J)
  • Norming: Common goals are defined, an agreement is reached
  • Performing: Working toward a common goal and looking forward

In this episode, Kathy O’Brien talks to Victoria and Mark about how to manage your growth strategies and the importance of being a strong leader in challenging times.

Kathy was the founding CEO of the St. Louis Alzheimer’s Association for over 25 years and then served as Senior Vice President of the National Office in Chicago. She received numerous awards and recognition for her work. Kathy now volunteers as a mentor/consultant to 5stone Construction in St. Louis, MO, helping with business growth strategies — she first got to know the company as a client. She was so impressed with the quality of the work and the people, she has worked with 5stone for the last several years, developing systems and processes, determining annual goals and individual employee performance indicators, hiring to get “the right people on the bus,” and managing fast growth over the last four years.

Kathy says those four stages of development apply to making positive growth in professional development, organizational development, and personal development. You go through the stages in every business relationship, personal relationship, and client relationship. She breaks down the stages, and how they present themselves in the remodeling business, including:

  • How it plays out with employees
  • Why it’s a continuous process
  • Getting through the storming stage successfully
  • How one person can cause a storm
  • Why leadership and core values are important through all the stages
  • Making it okay to disagree, and fostering honest dialog
  • What to do when you’re still sinking
  • And more …

If you’re finding yourself stuck in the storming stage, Kathy says there’s great value in having support with other leaders, by networking or in peer groups. She also recommends three books to read to boost your leadership skills: 

Ep.102: Developing a Sustainable Niche to Support Your Passion with Wright Marshall

One of the strongest ways to differentiate your business in your market is to have a niche. 

Wright Marshall’s company, Revival Construction, has always focused on one highly specific niche and is constantly refining its team and systems to be the leader in that segment.

In this episode, Wright will share his approach with Victoria and Mark, and why following his passion for historic architecture helped him create a successful remodeling business.

In May 2000, Wright Marshall formed Revival Construction Inc. in Atlanta, GA, dedicated to renovating and restoring Atlanta’s older homes. The company focuses on classically designed whole-house renovations, and additions to houses built before WWII in the intown areas of Atlanta. Revival’s mission is to build beautiful homes and lasting relationships. Wright’s also a longtime Roundtables member.

Wright minored in architectural history in college, and planned to build for a while before going to architecture school. He didn’t go. Instead he concentrated on remodeling and building additions on older homes, allowing him to follow his passion for classical architecture and run a successful business. While there were other companies doing it in his market, they weren’t doing as well as he thought he could. Wright concentrated on providing a better customer experience in that niche, as well as: 

  • Determining if your passion can be a sustainable business
  • Working with architects
  • Why design-build doesn’t have to be in one company
  • Building your reputation in the niche
  • Defining success in hiring
  • Investing in estimating
  • The importance of discipline
  • Setting smaller, realistic goals
  • The advantages of finding your niche
  • And more …

You can also learn why Wright chose the name Revival for his company, and also get to hear a little bit of an Allman Bros. song. Also, give yourself a little time to look through Revival’s Project Portfolio — there are some beautiful examples of Wright’s work.

Become a Master

Our MasterClass courses are two-day sessions of rich, interactive information with plenty of hands-on instruction. We limit our classes to 12-18 people, giving you ample opportunity to work one-on-one with the instructors. All our instructors are well-known respected industry experts and some of the best in their fields of expertise. Learn more about our MasterClasses in marketing, the design process, bookkeeping, and project management.

Ep.101: The Delicate Art of Qualifying Remodeling Leads with Chip Doyle

Leads! Lead! Leads! Business is good, leads are coming in. But are you over-qualifying, under-qualifying, or doing it just right? 

Chip Doyle’s got research that says 30-60 percent of business is lost because the initial phone call is handled incorrectly. So if you’re not doing it just right, you’re leaving money behind.

In this episode, Chip’s back with Victoria and Mark to break down the best practices for lead evaluation over the phone, and what to leave for the salesperson to handle in the prospect’s home.  

Chip Doyle wrote Selling to Homeowners — The Sandler Way, a best-selling industry book, and has been offering Sandler training for 20 years. He has worked with hundreds of remodeling companies across North America — including many of our Roundtables members and RA University members, and many other RA programs.

The most fundamental mistake many remodeling companies make — especially in this hot market — is mismanaging leads over the phone. Over-qualifying leads means you’re actually losing money, says Chip. He says the salesperson’s job is to go out and get “no”s. Getting into the home is key, but too many owners wear too many hats, and don’t have enough time to devote to sales calls. The result is being too stringent during the initial phone calls. Chip talks about how to qualify your prospects the right way, including:

  • Predictive qualifying
  • How long the initial call should take
  • Who should do the qualifying
  • Training the qualifier, or LIP
  • Why not to talk budget during the lead take-in
  • Ensuring that the homeowner has a positive experience on that first call
  • Finding out the client’s pain points while on the phone
  • Why the time frame of the job is a fair question
  • What a Volvo in the driveway or piano in the home can tell you
  • Making and confirming appointments
  • And more …

Let us know if you’d like to participate in Lead Intake Person training, send Mark an email at: mark@remodelersadvantage.com with LIP in the subject line. If we get enough interest, we’ll get Chip to teach the class.

Did You Know: Chip Doyle is a Featured Instructor with R/A…

We have Chip on our schedule for two upcoming programs. The SalesEdge program is for RA members who qualify, and the weekly topics will be tailored to the collective strengths and weaknesses of the limited number of participants for maximum results. See more about SalesEdge.

The Client Management Training for Designers, Architects & Project Managers is a program that will empower your team to lead your clients throughout the project, and not just take orders. It’s a multi-week course that can be taken in the comfort and convenience of your office using the phone, email and/or webinars. Get more information about Client Management Training for Designers, Architects & Project Managers.

Ep.100: The Drivers that Make for a Successful Exit with John Warrillow

It’s our 100th episode, and to mark the occasion, we’re welcoming back our first guest ever to talk about how to leave your business behind happily.

On average, 75 percent of founders who exit their company have regrets within one year of leaving, and only five percent are actually happy with the net proceeds of their exit. 

In this episode, John Warrillow will discuss why this happens with Victoria and Mark, and how business owners can better prepare for an exit that will leave them with no regrets.

John is an entrepreneur and author with more than 20 years of research into the small- and medium-sized business market. He’s the founder of The Value Builder System, which aims to level the playing field for business owners as they approach their exits. 

When you sell your company, there are factors that will dictate how happy you are after it’s no longer yours, says John. The first is that the business is ready to sell. The second is a little less clear-cut — the seller has to have done the psychological work that sets them up for success. John talks about what that means, and how to get to the point where you can make a successful exit, including:

  • Why there can be regrets
  • Being clear on what’s next
  • The “push factors” vs. the “pull factors”
  • Selling and staying or going
  • Why it’s not about the money
  • The biggest fears that come with selling
  • Dealing with private equity groups
  • The pitfalls of financing your buyer
  • How to treat your employees during the transition
  • The top three things that determine if your business is ready to sell
  • And more …

If you’d like to hear more about the first part of successfully selling your company — getting it ready to sell — listen to Episode 1. And to learn even more, go to John’s website, builttosell.com

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Ep.99: Adapting and Leading Through a Health Crisis with Jef and Monica Forward

Being able to adapt and lead through a crisis — personal or business — is a critical skill for any business owner. 

After their best year ever in 2018, Jef and Monica Forward were gearing up for an even stronger 2019. Everything was on course until two key players were diagnosed with cancer. One of them was Monica, who was the company’s only estimator at the time. The other was their lead designer.

One year later, everyone is alive, and despite all the difficulties, they also hit all of their business goals.

In this episode, Jef and Monica talk about the challenges with Victoria and Mark, and share insights into how they kept it all going.

Jef and Monica are business partners at Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor MI. Jef has participated in every level at Remodelers Advantage Roundtables and is a member of our MentorFor group. Over the last four years, Jef has focused on improving his coaching and leadership skills, resulting in improved client satisfaction, planned healthy growth and a positive team culture. Jef was recently a semi-finalist for the Fred Case Entrepreneur Award, and for the Remodelers Advantage Impact Award. Jef credits all of this success to his collaboration with Monica, their team, and Roundtables.

The team culture at their company was a key component of the company coming together and adapting to the emotional and business changes, Monica and Jef say. When her diagnosis came, they were about to implement The Great Game of Business, which empowers every employee to act like an owner and share in the profits. But then everything changed. Jef and Monica talk about how they got through the year, including:

  • Being prepared for the unexpected
  • Developing a strategy to get through
  • How to deal with work absences
  • The importance of cross-training
  • Figuring out who takes over the extra work
  • Tapping into the strength of your team
  • Being open about your tough times
  • Leading through vulnerability
  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • Handling the emotional components
  • And more …

The company continues to perform at peak levels due to the strength of the company culture, and their proven processes and systems.

Cool Gear, Great Cause

If you’re looking for cool gear and apparel to show your Roundtables pride  that also supports a great cause, check out our Shop. All of the proceeds go to our partner, The American Cancer Society. It’s a win-win!

Ep.98: How to Structure and Run a Profitable Design Department with Chris Landis

Jobs are won or lost during the design process. With so much on the line, it’s clear that your design department should be running at peak performance. But there are so many ways the process can get derailed.

It all depends on how you structure your design department, and what metrics you use to hold them accountable.

In this episode, Chris Landis discusses about how to build and run an efficient design department with Victoria and Mark.

Chris is a partner (with his brother Ethan) in Landis Architects/Builders in Washington, DC, and is a longtime Roundtables member. He’s a registered architect in four states (MD, DC, VA, NY). Chris graduated from Vassar College, and earned his M.A. in architecture from Columbia Architecture School. Chris is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and has 28 years of experience in residential architecture. He is a current member of the DC Historic Preservation Review Board and past president of the DC Metro area chapter of NARI.

Chris has a design department of nine people after 30 years in the business. When the company got to the point of having three designers, Chris hired a manager for that department to ensure that the work was standardized and high quality. He talks about how to set up your own design department for success and create a quicker process, including:

  • The metrics to gauge success
  • The designer’s role in his company
  • Recruiting and hiring for the department
  • Working back from net profit
  • When to hire a design manager
  • His three-phase process
  • How he charges for them
  • Figuring out a healthy close ratio
  • Taking on a design-only project
  • Why to conduct a feasibility study — sometimes
  • Working with design sub-contractors
  • And more …

Design can be a profit center, not a loss-leader, and you have to know how much you should be charging for it — even if you don’t.

MasterClass: Design Process

You can learn how other successful companies manage their design business, and you’ll go home with new ideas to exceed your clients’ expectations and boosting profits on every job. We’ll be holding our next class here in Baltimore, May 18-19. You can find more details and register here: Building An Effective Design Process.

Ep.97: The Magic of Disney’s Customer-Service Strategies with Pete Blank

If you’ve ever visited any Disney theme park across the globe, you may think nobody does customer service and experience like Disney. Although the execution is complex, the baseline concepts are quite simple. 

In this episode, Pete Blank shares customer-service strategies from Disney with Victoria and Mark, and shows you how to apply these lessons to your remodeling company to boost your own team’s customer-service performance. 

Pete has been developing leaders and improving service levels of organizations for the past 25 years — 13 of those with the Walt Disney Co. and the past 12 in local government. He loves inspiring others with ways to enhance their organizational culture. You can learn more about Pete Blank at his website: www.peteblank.com, or on his LinkedIn page

Growing up near Disney World in Orlando, Pete says he knew he always wanted to work there. After a few years as a sportscaster in Alabama, Pete went to Florida and began working at Disney World. He and his wife and family moved back to Alabama and he got what he saw as a temporary job in local government, where he still uses those customer-service strategies. The biggest challenges to providing outstanding customer service and experiences are speed and expectations. Technology has changed the speed and convenience with which goods and services can be delivered. You have to align your clients’ expectations with what you can actually deliver. Pete talks about how you and your team can consistently offer the best service possible, including:

  • The difference between customer service and customer experience
  • How social media amplifies all experiences —good and bad
  • Making customer service part of you mission statement
  • Looking for what “above and beyond” looks like in the future
  • Making the experience consistent 
  • How emotional connections create relationships
  • Bringing creativity to customer experiences
  • How to measure your customer-service success
  • The power of follow-up surveys
  • And more …

Pete says remodeling can emulate the magical experiences of Disney — your clients are choosing to transform their spaces, and helping them through that can be a transforming experience for their homes and their lives.

Ep.96: Tiered Growth: Understanding Metrics and Recognizing Signs to Set Profitable Sales Goals with Michael Hodgin

Most people would consider a company jumping from $1.5 million to $3 million in revenue a growing organization. However, when we look beyond gross sales, those numbers don’t necessarily mean it grew. It could even mean the company is less profitable — and ultimately less successful — than it was before. 

Michael Hodgin says planning for, and implementing, tiered advances are a better strategy for deliberate, healthy growth.

In this episode, Michael discusses his tiered increase growth strategy with Victoria and Mark. For healthy growth, he says you have to set and meet certain goals for sales, job costs, systems and performance before taking the next step.

Michael is a general contractor and business consultant living in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. He started his first construction company as a one-man-show in 2000, eventually growing Coleman Creek Construction to include a successful team of 15. Michael joined Remodeler’s Advantage in 2016 in an effort to deliver the greatest possible value to his clients. Investing in the development of efficient systems for his own business inspired the creation of his consulting agency, Maestro’s Toolbox

Micheal says that your company’s gross sales should bump up to the next milestone only once your teams have mastered sales, pre-construction, and production systems at their current revenue level. That puts a company in a stronger position to handle the inevitable increase in workload. He talks about how to accomplish healthy, tiered growth for you remodeling company, including:

  • The infrastructure milestones to hit
  • Taking deliberate steps
  • The importance of setting goals 
  • Focusing on hitting those goals
  • Proving your success 
  • Nailing down all your job costs
  • Managing slippage
  • Building the foundation for growth
  • The metrics that tell you that you’re ready for the next step
  • Stepping away and delegating
  • And more …

Planning your growth, setting targets, and understanding why and how you hit them will spur the right kind of growth for you and your company.

Ep.95: Being Honest Online with Taylor Rennick

Honesty is truly the best policy when it comes to your website and social media presence. In a sharing economy, your prospects want to know everything about your company before they even pick up the phone. 

We’re breaking down why transparency online is important, and how it can lead to more jobs.

In this episode, Taylor Rennick discusses the importance of being honest and transparent online with Victoria and Mark, and tells you how it can create more leads, and eventually more revenue. 

Taylor is an inbound marketing strategist at Builder Funnel — one of our partners here at Remodelers Advantage.

As part of her job, Taylor spends hours every day looking at remodeling company websites. Some are good, some not so much. And some seem a little shady, using project photos that aren’t theirs or lying about project pricing. Remodeling is intensely personal, and has to be sold as a service, not a product, Taylor says. Being transparent is the key. Taylor talks about the information prospects want to know, and how they want to find it, and why you’ll get more prospects, including:

  • Developing content to educate your audience
  • Explaining your process
  • Talk about cost on your website
  • What you should offer on your blog
  • What audience data can tell you
  • Positioning your company as a thought leader
  • Updating information to stay accurate
  • Reaching people where they are in their buying process
  • And more …

Taylor says you can find free resources to help you in all your online marketing on Builder Funnel’s site.

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