Remodelers Advantage

Ep.40: Website Best Practices with Mark Harari

Your website could be the first time a prospective client encounters your remodeling business. What they find there may get you the job or send them off into the ether, never to be seen again.

In this episode, Victoria grills our own Mark Harari on how to make a remodeler’s website into a lead-generating machine. Mark’s fresh off his engagement at CoCon‘18 in San Diego, where he presented his popular seminar “Website Punchlist: A Live Blue-Tape Experience.” 

Mark’s the chief marketing officer and vice-president of Remodelers Advantage, and the president of our sister company R/A Marketing. He’s an award-winning marketer with 20 years’ experience (18 years in construction), and specializes in translating strategic vision to tactical execution. He’s also the facilitator of the R/A Marketing Roundtables groups, which bring together top marketing pros from across the US and Canada.

To design an effective website, you have to determine its purpose. Some remodelers only want their sites to act as an online brochures — they send prospects to it. Mark makes the case that all remodelers, though, should have a lead-generating website — one that searchers find themselves. Then, you have to get actionable information out of them. Mark explains what works in marketing, especially digital marketing, including:

  • Why an email address is the most important information to get, and the easiest to get
  • How to integrate offline marketing and advertising with your online efforts
  • What a call to action is
  • Why growing your email list adds value to your company
  • How capturing leads future-proofs your business
  • The top technical mistakes in website design
  • Why you should make your photos searchable
  • Where not to put your social media icons
  • And a whole lot more…

Including just what a lead magnet is, and how to use it. Want to learn more about lead magnets? Get The Remodeler’s Guide to Lead Generation, which is not only a fantastic resource for getting more business, it’s a great example of a lead magnet, its landing page and the kind of information-gathering form that will convert. It’s all so incredibly meta, as the kids say.

Want Mark to look at your website?

If you’d like to submit your own website for a live blue-tape walkthrough, will be presenting his popular seminar during our Extreme Makeover: Business Edition, Jan. 29-30, 2019, in Baltimore.

Ep.39: How NOT to Grow Your Remodeling Business with Judith Miller

The Great Recession gobbled up a whole slew of remodeling companies, but more of them fail during an economic expansion than during a contraction. Growth is great, but it’s risky, and knowing how not to grow will put you ahead of the game.

In this hot market, there are so many opportunities, you can get ahead of yourself too quickly for the health of your company. And that’s where remodeling company owners get into trouble by growing the wrong way. There are potential downsides, and to avoid them, you have to keep you basic best practices — and customer satisfaction and net profits lie at the center, says Judith Miller.

In this episode, Judith joins Victoria and Mark to talk about the ways to grow your company the right way.

Judith has been a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage Roundtables for more than 15 years. She’s a QuickBooks expert, the author of The Remodeler’s Ultimate Guide to QuickBooks, and has been a columnist for Remodeling magazine for more than 10 years. Judith isn’t just a financial guru, she’s a high-level strategist who understands that numbers prove your strategy. She loves the challenge of helping good remodelers become better every day.

When trying to grow, the biggest stumbling block is a lack of control, preparation, and not focusing on the best practices. Judith tells you what those best practices are, and how to grow the right way, while explaining the details, including:

  • The critical need for leadership
  • Why your financials have to be in order
  • The Top 5 things you need to do to build a strong, profitable company
  • The predictable stages of growth — and which is best to grow in
  • How large you can get
  • Why hiring a sales force is the riskiest transition
  • How to build a company you can sell
  • Why growing over 20% may be crazy
  • And more…

You’ll also learn why “The Whale” projects takes too many remodelers down. Click here to go to the Growth Sustainability Calculator we discussed in the episode.

And if you need QuickBooks help, or want bring in Judith as a consultant for your business, you can email her at jfmiller@remodelservices.com.

 

Want More Ways to Improve Your Business in 2019 and Beyond?

We are excited to announce that we are re-launching and re-branding our annual January event, formerly known as the Master Your Remodeling Business Workshop. The Extreme Makeover: Business Edition Event has been re-tooled and re-focused on providing growing remodelers and renovators with the tools necessary to improve their businesses in 2019 and beyond.

In addition to Judith Miller, this 2-day event will feature well-known speakers such as Victoria Downing, Tim Faller and Mark Harari and bring in new faces like Doug Howard and the 2018 Fred Case Award Winner, Michael Sauri. For more information and to grab Super Early Bird discounts, CLICK HERE.

Ep.38: Learning from the Trucking Industry To Solve Your Labor Shortage with Natalie Putnam

So many remodelers can’t reach their production potential because of the labor shortage. With the unemployment rate at a 20-year low, the struggle to find and retain good people is curbing business growth for small-business owners, across industries.

In this episode, Natalie Putnam tells Victoria and Mark about the hiring and retention strategies that have worked for her company in the trucking space, another industry struggling to find great people.

Natalie’s the chief commercial officer at Verst Logistics in Walton, KY. She’s a an industry expert, with 35 years of experience in supply chain, logistics, and trucking. Verst is growing at 24% a year, so Natalie regularly recruits employees and drivers for warehousing, fulfillment, and truck driving — in an area dominated by Amazon, FedEx, and DHL.

While wages play a significant role in recruiting and retention, it’s not the only lever you have, Natalie says. Your company culture can be a bigger factor in making employees accept your job offer. She shares other tactics that have worked for her in hiring and retaining good employees in a highly competitive market, including:

  • Expanding your target market — especially toward women
  • Using marketing for recruiting
  • The power of listening
  • Relaxing your requirements — how and why
  • Creating a Mentorship program
  • Why respect goes farther than cash
  • Job-site recruiting
  • The rise of robots
  • And much more…

Finding good people to work for you is a struggle. But taking some tips from another industry can help you prosper.

Ep.37: The Art of Effective Communication with Paul Winans

Most work requires more than one person to get it done. Effective communication is essential to the enterprise. Everyone has to learn the skills to communicate effectively. One key is concentrating on what brings you success — in work, with your spouse or partner, and in the rest of your life. Build on that.

In this episode, Paul Winans joins Victoria and Mark to dive in to work on having effective arguments, resolving conflict, and working on listening.

Paul and his wife Nina owned a remodeling company for 30 years, living and working together, selling the company in 2007. Paul continues to work in the industry as a consultant, writer, and facilitator with R/A’s Roundtables.  As a facilitator, Paul works with our members to help them improve every aspect of their communication.

The biggest problem in effective communication happens when people just want to be heard, and don’t take on the responsibility to listen. For entrepreneurs, especially, It’s easy to say you have to listen, but you’ve built your business on others hearing you, and that habit is hard to break.

It takes a conscious and constant effort toward improvement. Paul gives examples and tips for improving your communication skills, including:

  • Focusing on understanding the other person
  • Using “I” language, not “you” language
  • Avoiding verbal attacks, even if they’re unintentional
  • Asking neutral questions
  • Establishing a foundation for decision making
  • Bridging the gap between communication styles and paces
  • How to tell if someone’s just visiting the conversation
  • Why meeting about nothing is good, actually
  • And so much more…

2019 Couples Retreat Workshop

This episode covers a lot of valuable ground, and you have an opportunity to go even deeper as it pertains to working with your spouse. As we mentioned in this episode, Paul and Nina will lead a Couples Retreat Workshop 2019 in Scottsdale, AZ, on February 7-8, 2019.

It’s an intimate group of 15 couples who will learn how to deal with conflict, argue effectively, and set goals for yourselves. The spots are going fast (a reservation was made during the podcast!), so act quickly to take advantage of this incredible resource. Register here!

 

Ep.36: How to Make Your Photo Gallery a Lead-Generating Powerhouse with Tanya Bamford

One of the most powerful sales tools your remodeling company has often lies fallow on your website — your project photo galleries. With a little creativity, those photos can be transformed into compelling client success stories. This will boost your organic search rankings, super-charge lead generation, and result in more sales.

The power of storytelling, and a few tricks, can make all the difference.

In this episode, Tanya Bamford shares her insights about connecting all the dots to make the most of your online marketing efforts.

Tanya is the managing director of R/A Marketing Inc., our new sister company serving the needs of the remodeling industry. Tanya has been helping remodeling companies prosper for the better part of the last decade as the owner of a boutique marketing firm in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her work for two Remodelers Advantage members first brought Tanya to our attention.

Your galleries are fallow — to borrow a farming term — because they’re not particularly productive, but hold immense potential. They are the basis for telling a story from your clients’ perspectives, which are more compelling to prospects than technical details. You need to find the “why,” says Tanya. “You removed a wall and added a load-bearing beam, but you need to tell why that mattered to the client,” she says. Other ways to make your galleries work for you include:

  • Using the photos to tell a story on your blog and social channels
  • How to tag photos for better search engine rankings
  • Why the size of the photo also matters
  • What photos to take
  • And more…

Online marketing is getting more complicated all the time. Using the photo content you already have — in the right ways — can turn your website into a lead-generating machine.

The R/A Marketing website is under construction, but will be up and running soon — bookmark it and check back in!

You can also reach Tanya at Tanya@GetRAMarketing.com

Ep.35: Why You Should Have a Personal Vision Statement with Dave Bryan

A personal vision statement charts your course — in life and in business. If you don’t have one, you might as well be lost at sea when you’re making decisions.

For Dave Bryan, his personal vision statement serves as his North Star, allowing him to plot his course through his life. “There are a million ways in any given day to get knocked off course,” he says. “Everything you do should be in support of your life, and having a personal vision statement can help you stay on the path and keep on track.”

In this meaningful episode, Dave talks to Victoria and Mark about the genesis of the idea for him, how he did it, and gives tips for how you can write your own. Most importantly, he shares his reasons why you should.

Dave president of Blackdog Builders, with offices in Salem and Amherst, NH. After starting his business in 1989, he’s built Blackdog into a strong, consistently profitable business, with several diversifications under its umbrella. Dave is an entrepreneur who is known for the discipline and care with which he runs his company. Dave is also one of our popular Roundtables facilitators, where he shares his story with the groups.

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, with no one to keep you accountable. Planning your life and using a personal vision statement can help define your goals. Dave’s path to writing his own statement began with the recession in 2008. “It was brutal,” he says. But defining the goals and intentions for his life going forward was a turning point.

You’ll hear Dave’s personal vision statement and learn why he won’t share it in written form. But you have to do the work yourself for your own, he says. Dave covers how to develop your personal vision statement, and what it can do for your life and business, including:

  • Creating a vision board as a first step
  • Why work is only a tool to build your life
  • How far out to plan
  • Working gratitude into your plan
  • What you learn when you look back

With all of the planning and goal-setting you do for your business, you may still be spinning your wheels if you don’t create the personal plan that forms a strong foundation for what you do — and why.

You can learn more about Dave and Blackdog at the website.

 

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Ep.34: The Evolution of SEO with Spencer Powell

Marketing is getting more complicated, and search engine optimization can seem like voodoo or black magic. The SEO landscape is always changing, as Google adjusts its algorithms every day.

The goal remains the same, though — growing your organic traffic online to rank higher in the search listings, so you get found by the people who will become your clients.

Spencer Powell joins Victoria and Mark to explain how to maximize your SEO, and share the recipe for a successful SEO strategy. 

Spencer is the founder and president of Builder Funnel, a digital marketing agency that helps remodelers improve their marketing and sales systems. They help you generate more leads and sales by putting the right technology in place to measure what’s working and what’s not so you can improve over time.

SEO matches up with the way people shop and buy. Users ask questions and do research, and you want your site to be there with the answers. But a successful SEO program is more than just choosing keywords and topics. You have to know what else comes into play. Learn more about:

  • Good content vs. junk content
  • Understanding what questions to answer
  • How to drive traffic using social channels and email
  • The keys to A/B testing, and how to do it
  • Calls to Action and where to put them
  • The importance of fresh content
  • And more…

Including this link to the 200 SEO ranking factors Spencer talked about. If you’ve got questions for Spencer, shoot him an email at spowell@builderfunnel.com. There are more resources for you at Builder Funnel’s website.

Meet Spencer at Summit
If you want to ask Spencer questions and meet him in person, no better way than see him at the 2018 Remodelers Summit in New Orleans on September 25-27! Spencer and Builder Funnel will be one of our sponsors, so make sure you stop by their booth to meet his team.

Ep.33: The Sales-to-Production Handoff with Bruce Case

To many remodelers, a project works like a relay race, depending on good handoffs of the baton. The sales-to production-handoff is critical, and if you drop the baton, the race is over.

But there are ways to make it less of a hard handoff and more of a continuum, says Bruce Case. Bruce joins Victoria and Mark to explain how to break down the barriers and bring Sales and Production together as a team.

Bruce Case is the president and CEO of Case Design/Remodeling Inc., one the largest full-service remodeling firms in the nation with more than $60 million is annual revenue. Focused on the Washington, DC, metro market, the company provides a unique mix of design/build and home improvement services. Over the past 15 years, the company has extended its reach across the US through a network of licensees and franshises working under the Case Handyman & Remodeling Services banner. All these initiatives is focus on inspiring team members and clients.

Involving Production from the beginning of a job makes the projects more seamless and collaborative, creating a process that empowers employees and keeps them all focused on the bottom line. Bruce tells you how Case handles this team approach, including:

  • The need for accurate estimating
  • Why Project Managers get to sign off on a contract before the client does
  • Structuring compensation for Sales and Production based on gross profit
  • Who goes to what meetings and why
  • What to do when you need a tie-breaker
  • And a whole lot more…

Bruce talks about how to lead this process, and your team, with empowerment and accountability. For more about Case Design/Remodeling, check out their website. And we’re looking forward to Bruce’s AskAnything Fireside Chat at the Remodeler’s Summit on Sept. 26 — his fourth time sharing his expertise with us.

 
 

Ep.32: Industry Insights with Rick Strachan

If you’re curious as to where the remodeling  industry is going and the key opportunities for the future, Rick Strachan of Hanley Wood has your answers.

In this episode, Rick breaks it all down with Victoria and Mark, telling you what will drive growth, and how to face the coming challenges. You’ll get the big picture, detailed information to help you make strategic decisions for your future, and more numbers than you can shake a stick at.

Rick has worked in the media and information business serving the construction industry for 35 years, and for the last 26 years has been with Hanley Wood’s Remodeling Group. He is a founding member of the Harvard Joint Center Remodeling Futures Program, and is a past board member and former chairman of the Home Improvement Research Institutes Remodeling Professional Committee. He has also received NARI’s President’s Award for service to the industry.

The biggest drivers of remodeling, now and for the near term, are the Baby Boomers. Rick tells you what you need to know about this generation’s buying power and habits, as well as:

  • The predicted habits of Millennials in the remodeling space
  • The phenomenal growth in the industry and why the future looks bright
  • How to address your labor shortage
  • Why product and materials costs will escalate, and how to deal with it
  • Why HGTV isn’t all bad for business
  • What our aging housing stock means for you
  • And much more…

This episode is as close to fortune-telling as we can get. If you have any questions for Rick, you can email him at rstrachan@hanleywood.com. For more information about Hanley Wood and its news and information about the remodeling industry, go to their website.

Summit Partners

We are proud to partner with Rick and his team at Hanley Wood on producing the Remodelers Summit and we’re excited to get down to New Orleans for this year’s event. We only have 5 seats left for Summit so if you haven’t registered yet, please do so ASAP. You do NOT want to miss this year’s event!

Ep.31: How to Successfully Use Cost-Plus Pricing with Josh Baker

The Cost-Plus Pricing model seems to go completely against common sense, but it’s a concept that we’re getting more questions about from our membership. One contributing factor is that consumers increasingly demand transparency when purchasing products and services — and homeowners are coming to expect it when undertaking a remodeling project. But so many remodelers don’t understand it. Can Cost Plus be your new pricing model?

Josh Baker, co-founder of BOWA Builders, has been using Cost-Plus Pricing for more than 20 years. In this episode, he talks to Victoria and Mark about its pros and cons, and why it’s a cornerstone of his company’s success.

Josh founded BOWA Builders in McLean, VA, with college friend Larry Weinberg in 1988, serving the Washington, DC, metro market. As the leader of BOWA’s sales and marketing team, Josh helped to quickly grow the company’s revenues from $250,000 to nearly $40 million in just 20 years. As chief revenue officer, Josh’s focus is on growth and managing an energetic, productive sales team. Recognized nationally as an expert in the industry, Josh is quoted regularly in publications, including The Washington Post, Better Homes & Gardens, and Remodeling, and is a frequent speaker at local and national industry meetings.

Cost-Plus Pricing can be a differentiator, but it can also frighten some remodeling business owners — as well as some clients. Josh explains how to present the concept to clients, and what it will take to implement it profitably, as well as:

  • What jobs are suited to the Cost-Plus Model
  • Weighing the risks and rewards
  • The necessity of pinpoint accuracy in estimating
  • Why not to apologize for your costs
  • The time it takes to do well
  • Why you need a sophisticated, expert sales staff to make it work
  • And a whole lot more…

Josh stresses that Cost-Plus Pricing isn’t for everyone, or for every job. Listening to this episode may help you decide if it’s the pricing model for you, or for some of your projects. Check out BOWA’s website for more about the company, and if you have questions about Cost-Plus Pricing, send Josh an email at josh@bowa.com.

 

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