Remodelers Advantage

Ep.47: How Social Proof Can Ignite Massive Growth with Josh Kelly

Reviews are the lifeblood of any remodeling company. But are you getting the best social proof of your company’s performance from your clients?

Social proof is simply getting credit for what you’re already doing, says Josh Kelly. But it can spur your company to massive growth when done right.

In this episode, Josh talks to Victoria and Mark about social proof, how to use it in your business, and how it can help you weather some big changes coming to the remodeling industry.

Josh is a principal of RevuKangaroo.com, a review collection and distribution company. Before starting RevuKangaroo, Josh used the power of social proof, reviews, and referrals to grow his residential services business, Parker & Sons Inc., Phoenix, AZ, from $6.5 million to over $100 million in just 13 years.

The best way to grow your business is to keep and make more money with the customers you have — and have them tell others about their great experiences. But big changes are coming — Amazon and Google continue to make inroads into the remodeling space. If you’re not prepared to play with them, and not against them, you could lose out. And one of the ways to work with them is to show your social proof. Josh breaks down the three components of social proof, and has great tips on:

  • Making it easy for the customer to give you a review
  • Why you want an employee reviewed, not your company
  • How to ask for referrals in a personal way
  • Why “referral” is a dirty word, and what to use instead
  • How to screen reviews
  • Why identical reviews on multiple sites are bad
  • Why he spells Revu that way
  • And more…

If you’d like to learn more about RevuKangaroo or pick Josh’s brain, you can drop him an email at josh@revukangaroo.com.

 

Improve Your Remodeling Business in 2019 & Beyond

The Extreme Business Makeover Event is coming up in 2 weeks and seats are filling fast. Come learn from some of the most experienced, well-respected speakers, presenters and panelists in the North American remodeling industry. Click here for more information & registration.

  

Ep.46: Onboarding the Most Vital Roles in Your Company with Jackie Shaw

Your accounting is a vital part of your business. You’ve spent valuable time hiring a new accounting staff member. Now what? Too often, owners think the new hire will be able to sit down and get to work with no introduction to processes and policies of the business. This can be a costly mistake.

Accounting is the story of your business in numbers, Jackie Shaw tells Victoria and Mark in this episode. Properly onboarding a new accountant or bookkeeper will keep that story from becoming a tragedy.

Jackie, the founder of Get Organized! LLC, is one of the QuickBooks gurus who support our members — and they love her. She gets paid to clean up a lot of accounting disasters and has seen first-hand how quickly a new bookkeeper can destroy your books. She’s here to help you get the right systems in place so you don’t have to pay anyone to clean up after a bookkeeping hire goes wrong.

“A bookkeeper can kill a database in a week,” she warns. That’s why, Jackie says, when onboarding new hires, they must do everything the same way they were done before, and they need to study prior entries to figure that out. And you have to forbid them from making changes for at least a month. Other things you should keep in mind when onboarding and working with a new hire include:

  • Not making assumptions
  • Experience doesn’t mean competence
  • Why you don’t want your bookkeeper to take ownership of the books
  • The importance of financial SOPs
  • Why accounting can be like an archeological dig
  • And more…

Including the methods you can use to safeguard your company against embezzling. If you thought talking about accounting was going to be dry and boring, then you have to listen to this episode — it’s lively!

Ep.45: Using Tools to Find the Best Talent with Rick Bowers

You know all about the labor shortage, you’re living with it every day. But there are tools that can help you find the right person for the right job — and help you keep them in your company.

Remodelers Advantage has been using a personality assessment tool called DISC for years, and we love it. Everyone on our team completes a DISC assessment, as do all of our Roundtables members— who also rely on them in their own businesses.

In this episode, Rick Bowers of TTI Success Insights, the maker of the DISC test, drops by to talk to Victoria and Mark about how and why to use personality assessment tools in your organization.

Rick’s the president of TTI Success Insights, and the keynote speaker at its show TTISCON. Rick has more than 30 years of experience with talent management tools and has trained people to use effective talent management techniques in more than 30 countries on six continents.

For those who don’t know, or could use a refresher, the DISC profile breaks down personality into four buckets, to see which are more pronounced in each individual:

  • Dominance: The take-charge type
  • Influencing: Outgoing and fast-paced
  • Steadiness: Consistent and methodical
  • Compliance: Follows the rules

There are unlimited combinations, because everyone’s an individual, but taken all together, a person’s DISC profile shows why people do what they do, and how best to communicate and motivate them, says Rick. He takes a deep dive into how the DISC and other tools can help managers and employees, including:

  • The 12 driving forces that motivate
  • Letting the job talk
  • Using the right words for each personality
  • Making space for individuality
  • Building an effective team
  • Importance of debriefing process after hiring
  • Why the DISC can’t be used to excuse a bad behavior
  • Why you’ll only go against the assessment once in hiring
  • And a lot more…

In the remodeling business, it’s especially important to hire the right person for the job, and the team — the wrong hire can mess up your company for years. These types of assessment tools can help you make better decisions, and aid you in understanding how to manage and communicate. How do you use your DISC assessments? Let us know in the comments below.

Ep.44: Building a Remodeling Sales Team with Andy Wells

Most remodelers start as the sole salesperson for their companies. Stepping out of that role is arguably one of the hardest things you can do — but you have to if you’re going to grow your company. Hiring, training, and managing a sales team is a challenge.

Normandy Design Build Remodeling has a sales staff of 22, and all have design or architecture backgrounds. This is more important to the company than having pure sales experience.

In this episode, Andy Wells talks to Victoria and Mark about hiring and training superstars at Normandy, where he’s the president and owner. Normandy has been in business for 40 years and does additions, kitchens, and whole-house remodeling throughout the Chicagoland area. Andy has been with Normandy for 21 years.

Expanding and growing your company takes sales, and more sales, says Andy. His newer salespeople are selling $600,000 per year; some with more experience are doing $2 million, topping out at around $4 million sold by one salesperson. Andy talks about hiring and training the Normandy way, with information you can use to build your own sales staff, including:

  • Why passion is the most important thing
  • How to be a Sherpa for your clients
  • The importance of being nimble
  • Clicking with the customer
  • Training in the culture
  • The value of ride-alongs for sales
  • Scaling the commissions and compensation
  • Moving from salary to commission
  • Meetings — what to cover and how often to hold them
  • Why sales managers can’t do all their own selling
  • And more…

So much more, in fact, that we ran out of time. Since we didn’t even get to the management part, we’ll be bringing Andy back soon!

Tell us about your experiences with hiring and training a sales staff in the comments.

Ep.43: The Power of Public Relations with Jim Zack

As remodelers, public relations is often an overlooked part of your marketing mix. We spend so much time and money on online marketing, PR is an afterthought. But with the web’s insatiable need for content, placing projects to get publicity should be a part of your strategy.

In this episode, Roundtables member Jim Zack tells Victoria and Mark how and why his firm gets up to 30 articles about projects published per year, creating an overall brand awareness in his market and beyond. His projects have appeared in such print and digital outlets as the Wall Street Journal, Dwell, and archdaily.com.

Jim’s president of Zack | de Vito Architecture + Construction, an Architect-led design/build company in San Francisco. His goal is to be the No. 1 design-focused design/build company in the Bay Area. The company’s work focuses on high-value residences, renovations, and new construction with a consciously modern focus.

The push to get published comes from his Architectural background, where getting published is always a primary goal. It translates well into driving the PR side of his design/build business, with PR as part of the overall marketing strategy. Jim shares his proven method for getting great PR coverage, including:

  • Capitalizing on awards
  • How to submit work to print and digital outlets
  • Finding your project niche and the outlets to use
  • Industry vs. consumer outlets
  • Why to pay for professional photography
  • Making your projects newsworthy
  • Choosing the right project to promote
  • Getting your clients on-board
  • Putting the right to publicize in your contract
  • And more…

To get an idea of just how much Jim’s work has been published —and publicized — check out this list, which only shows a part of his PR footprint.

Ep.42: How and When To Hire a General Manager with Aaron Enfinger

As companies experience growth, there are tipping points where changes need to be made. One of those points is when you realize you need additional management for the organization. Many remodelers are considering adding a General Manager, but are unsure how it will work in practice.

The Cleary Company of Columbus, OH, reached this tipping point in the Development Department in the Fall of 2016. The company was changing rapidly, adding staff, and stressing the existing systems in place. Things were getting bogged down. Owner George Cleary promoted Aaron Enfinger from Production Manager to GM to step in the gap. He’s currently wearing both hats while searching for his successor as PM.

In this episode, Aaron talks to Victoria and Mark about his experiences in taking over his new role and what it’s meant for the company. While Aaron oversees the operations, George has more time for business development and long-term planning.

The decision to add an overlay of management was caused by three factors, says Aaron. The staff was stressed by the workload, they were having trouble getting projects through the different phases of the job, and steps were being skipped in previously reliable systems because of the rush to get jobs to production. He talks about what his job entails, and some of the challenges, including:

  • Keeping the owner in the mix
  • How to not overload a GM
  • Managing people outside of your own job experience, like designers or marketers
  • Creating new positions to help streamline processes
  • Why to hire from within (if you can)
  • Working with the owner (or CEO)
  • The benefits of a walking meeting
  • Small picture vs. big picture thinking
  • And more…

As promised in the podcast, here’s the link to Aaron’s appearance on The Tim Faller Show, where he outlined his approach to creating a master schedule to control the flow of jobs through the pipeline.

Extreme Makeover: Business Edition

As Mark and Victoria mentioned in this episode, the Extreme Makeover: Business Edition, Jan. 29-30, 2019, is filling up fast — and Super Early Bird Pricing ends this Friday, November 30th.
Click Here for More Information & Registration 

 

Ep.41: Using Virtual Reality to Grow Sales and Profits with Chris Katkish

Virtual reality creates immersive environments in real time. For remodelers, that means your clients could preview and even “walk-through” their projects to see if they like what they’re seeing. 

Guest Chris Katkish says VR can help remodelers streamline their sales and design process, trim the length of the sales cycle, and boost production efficiency by reducing change orders. All of which leads to more sales and more profit.

In this episode, Chris talks to Victoria and Mark about using VR technology to help clients confidently make decisions more quickly in the sales and design process.

Chris is the general manager of InSite Builders and Remodeling in Bethesda, MD. The three owners of InSite have partnered in a company called Limitless Virtual Reality, which enables CAD designs to be viewed in VR.

InSite uses VR as a visualization tool to get concepts across to homeowners. Even if you’re using 3D modeling, they’re still viewed in 2D, and seeing it on screen isn’t the same. VR immersion allows clients to experience the space and see what they’re buying before its built. Chris talks about the ways remodelers can use VR in their businesses, including:

  • When to bring VR into the sales process
  • Building in the charge for the VR design
  • How your 3D model becomes a VR environment
  • The equipment you’d need — and how much it may cost
  • Real-world examples of how VR speeds up client decisions
  • How to use it with Project Managers and Trade Partners
  • And more…

Victoria and Mark also spitball ways to use VR in your marketing. The pace of technology is fast — and VR is the newest tool on the scene. If you’ve got ideas or opinions on how VR may affect the remodeling business or your business, let us know in the comments below.
 

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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.