Remodelers Advantage

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.

Ep.94: Improving Your Bottom Line with Green Upgrades with Doug Selby

Many of your customers will pay more for items that improve the health, comfort, and efficiency of their homes. As one of the few things that pay for themselves over time, green upgrades can also boost your average project revenue and make you stand out in your market.

In this episode, Doug Selby talks to Victoria and Mark about how green upgrades can improve your remodeling company’s bottom line.

Doug is a co-founder of Meadowlark Design+Build in Ann Arbor, MI, and recently graduated from the CEO role to to focus on long-term strategy and act as the company’s sustainability director. Doug is a building science expert and helped Meadowlark build a reputation in its community for quality of construction and leadership in ecological housing issues. 

Meadowlark was started with an ecological focus from its very beginning. Doug and his business partner, Kirk Brandon, studied primitive living and how to survive off the grid. While they may cost a little bit more upfront, green upgrades pay for themselves over time, he says, and focusing on ecologically conscious remodeling and construction can be a great business decision. He talks about what it means to Meadowlark’s business and clients, including:

  • How it helped the company grow during the recession
  • Getting media attention naturally
  • Losing less, using less, and then producing
  • Insulation and systems
  • Why solar’s literally the last thing he looks at
  • Air-quality issues
  • Talking to homeowners about green tactics and methods
  • Presenting it the right way
  • And more …

Including the benefits of going where other businesses aren’t, and how ecologically conscious building and remodeling can set you apart in your own market.

Ep.93: [Unscripted Back-Up] How LEAN Principles Have Improved My Business with Paul Kowalski

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our more popular episodes, and this episode explains how LEAN principles really work in a remodeling company. Perfect for any company looking to improve their business in 2020.


In this episode, Paul Kowalski shares his experiences in applying LEAN in his business with Victoria and Mark. His company recently implemented the process, and he says the results have already been eye-opening.

Paul owns PK Builders in Charlotte, NC, and is a member of our Remodelers Advantage Roundtables group. PK Builders has a team of eight, including Paul, with four project Managers, an estimator, and a draftsman.

When PK Builders was experiencing growing pains in 2018 — bottlenecks in the design-build process, some cash-flow issues, higher overhead — Paul called in Doug Howard for help. Paul says it was intimidating at first, but soon becomes second nature to look for ways to speed up processes. It started with 16 feet of paper festooned with sticky notes detailing steps in the design process. Hear how they implemented LEAN, including:

  • Explaining it to your staff
  • Sharing in chunks
  • Finding the hiccups
  • Why the people closest to the work have the best feedback
  • Getting over the intimidation factor
  • Timelines and swim lanes
  • Not including time for revisions
  • Building in collaboration up front
  • Unintended consequences
  • And more …

Paul and his team are deep in the LEAN process, and excited to see what their future brings, including how it affects their positive cash flow. See the video Paul talks about outlining LEAN principles from the Food Bank For New York City on YouTube.

And here’s that 16-ft. chart Paul talks about:


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Ep.92: The Dangers of Burnout and How To Promote Individual Resiliency with Marian Faller

No matter how well your remodeling company is doing, how well organized you are, life can get hectic at times. You work through it all, but this can leave you vulnerable to burnout. Which can lead to an avalanche of problems.

In this episode, Marian Faller discusses burnout with Victoria and Mark, sharing its causes, the signs to look for in yourself and others, and how you can promote resiliency within your company. 

Marian is a psychotherapist, and owns Cornerstone Consulting and Cornerstone Counseling in Westerly, RI. She also serves as a consultant for individuals, families, and companies wanting to address mental health concerns. She also happens to be married to our own Tim Faller.

Burnout happens gradually, says Marian, and so gradually that you may not notice it until it’s too late. People experiencing burnout can be irritable, miss days of work, and can even get to the point of clinical depression. Burnout can affect individuals as well as entire organizations. Marian talks about what to know to keep yourself and your employees mentally healthy, including:

  • The signs and symptoms of burnout
  • How physical health can cause burnout
  • How burnout can spread from one individual
  • Why ignoring the causes of burnout won’t make it go away
  • The genetic and chemical components of mental health
  • What folic acid has to do with it
  • Promoting resilience in yourself and others
  • Focusing on what went right vs. what went wrong
  • What we can learn from Winnie the Pooh and Cleopatra
  • Modeling good habits and behaviors
  • Setting the right tone
  • Using hardships to promote resiliency
  • And more …

Knowing the signs and symptoms of burnout — and how to help yourself and others through it — can make a big difference in your own happiness and your team’s job satisfaction.

EP.91: [Unscripted Back-up] Expert Panel at Extreme Business Makeover Shares Insight

As we wrap up 2019, we’re looking back at some of our more popular episodes and this one was a huge hit.

For our 50th episode in January, we gathered a panel of industry experts and took questions from the audience at the Extreme Business Makeover event. It capped off an intense two days of learning, sharing, and networking among the remodelers attending and our Remodelers Advantage team.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark directed the lively discussions with our panel. Panelists included:

  • Michael Sauri of TriVistaUSA Design + Build and the 2018 winner of the Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
  • Doug Howard, RA’s CFO and Director of Consulting Services, a.k.a. “The Fixer”
  • Judith Miller, Financial and QuickBooks “Guru”
  • Tim Faller, RA’s Senior Consultant and “Master of Production”

We covered profits and payroll, cash flow, the owner’s role in a growing business, margins, staying top-of-mind in your marketing, smart lead qualifying, planning and making decisions on your job sites, and the power of asking “why?”

It’s an insightful and all-encompassing discussion of how to run your business to get bigger margins, more profits, and creating a real life/work balance. If you missed it back in January, you need to listen to this episode.

And Don’t Miss THIS Year’s Extreme Business Makeover Event;
New Content, Fresh Ideas

On January 28-29, 2020 we will gather once again at the BWI Westin and present 2 days of interactive presentations, breakouts and expert panels (like the one featured in today’s podcast). We have Super Early Bird pricing in place until 12/15/19 so Click here for more information and Register Today!

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