Business Management

Ep.82: What Can Be Learned from Success with Wayne Rivers

We’re just back from the 2019 Remodelers Excellence Week, Remodelers Summit, and Roundtables meetings, and our opening video was about thinking like a child, and allowing yourself to fail so that you can learn from what went wrong. It’s all a part of evolving as a business, as a person, and the art of growth.

Then we came across the latest video blog from our friend Wayne Rivers.

It dovetailed nicely with our main takeaways, while also turning the concept of learning from failure on its head. It’s devoted to learning from your successes, and then building on them.

So in this episode, we’re picking up the audio of his blog. If you’d like to watch the video, you can find it here.

Wayne is the co-founder and president of The Family Business Institute Inc. He has authored four books on the subject of family businesses, and is part of the peer group Victoria and Mark attend. Wayne has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BusinessWeek: WEEKEND, and on the Retirement Living Network.

Wayne talks about how overlooked, yet powerful, success can be as a teaching tool. Instead of always concentrating on what didn’t go right, he tells you how to learn from the good, including:

  • What you can learn from the Blue Angels
  • Why to focus on the process more than the outcome
  • Conducting a post-mortem on every project, good and bad
  • Analyze for successes and failures
  • Realizing that success is almost always a team effort
  • Why to benchmark in every department and process
  • Getting an outside perspective and objective opinion
  • And more …

There are opportunities for learning and improving everywhere — you have to look for them and then build on them.

Click here to take a look at our Summit kick-off video.

Ep.81: The Department Your Company Doesn’t Have, but Should with Alex Raisanen

All remodelers have a sales department. All remodelers have a production department. But few officially recognize a human resources department. 

Alex Raisanan used her experience to build an HR department for TraVek, a remodeling company in Scottsdale, AZ. Through skill and creativity, the department was able to build its team by 123 percent in a tough labor market.

In this episode, Alex shares how she did it with Victoria and Mark, and tells you how an HR department of one can help you grow your team with intention and create a culture worth talking about.

Alex is the human resource director at TraVek. Her dedication to high standards was ingrained at an early age by her luxury resort experience in the HR department of the Four Seasons Scottsdale, and led her to corporate recruiting at one of the largest national companies in the construction sector, and then finally to TraVek. 

She learned how to build a culture at the Four Seasons and found her passion for helping people find jobs to support themselves and their families. Alex has officially been at TraVek since February 2017, but had been doing work behind the scenes previously. Alex helped develop some policies and procedures, and an employee handbook. When she began full-time, she dove into recruiting in a tough labor market. She shares her strategies for finding the right people for the right roles, and growing your business, including:

  • How to network and build relationships
  • Starting conversations with people who have the skills you need
  • How she attracts top talent
  • Taking the long view of recruiting
  • Using LinkedIn and social media to grow your staff
  • Why to recruit when you’re not necessarily hiring
  • What to do when you find a superstar, but no formal job opening
  • Establishing a templated on-boarding process
  • The interview process
  • Involving your team to evaluate a good fit
  • The questions to ask to determine a cultural fit
  • And more …

Proactively recruiting can help you increase the chances that the top talent will be interested and available when you do have an opening.  

Ep.80: Bridging the Skills Gap from an Economist’s Perspective with Mischa Fisher

An aging skilled workforce is retiring, and there’s a shortage of younger people taking their place. It’s a hot topic among remodeling companies, who are still searching for the right answers to solving their labor shortage.

In  this episode, Mischa Fisher, Victoria, and Mark discuss what you can do to bridge the skills gap, and how to change deep-seated perceptions around joining the home-services industry. 

Mischa Fisher is the chief economist at ANGI Homeservices, representing the HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List brands. Prior to this role, Mischa was chief economist for Illinois, where he served as the economic policy advisor to the governor; he is also a former legislative director for the United States Congress in Washington, DC, and is currently an instructor in applied quantitative analysis at Northwestern University. 

Mischa says the labor shortage starts with s a simple fact of demographics, where an aging workforce is getting ready to retire, and the Millennials and younger Generation Z aren’t in the pipeline to replace them. Compounding that, there’s already a shortage of skilled labor. An internal HomeAdvisor poll showed 65 percent of their members could not fill a position, says Mischa, and it’s getting worse. Mischa shares his insights into what’s causing the labor shortage, and how we can all go about fixing it, plus bonus advice from his dad, including:

  • Why talking about it is a great start
  • Raising awareness inside and outside the industry
  • Best practices to fill your open positions
  • How to appeal to Millennials and Gen Z with a rewarding workplace
  • The importance of building a real team
  • Recognizing generational differences and how to work with them
  • How to create a clear pathway to learning
  • Recruiting older, experienced people
  • Using the student loan crisis to your advantage in recruiting
  • Appealing to the entrepreneurial spirit
  • Working with industry, government, and educational leaders
  • Educating parents about the advantages of learning a skilled trade
  • And more …


Mischa says you can find more resources to help at the Home Advisor Pro Center. Keep an eye out for a new research portal that will be live in a couple of months at www.homeadvisor.research.

Ep.79: Helping Veterans Remodel with SAH Grants with Jay Latona

Caring for our veterans should be a national priority when they come back home. The Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program offers grants to service members and veterans who have certain severe service-connected disabilities. The grants assist with building, remodeling, or purchasing an adapted home, but the program needs remodelers and builders to make it work.

Most people in the remodeling industry don’t know these grant programs and projects exist. 

In this episode, Jay Latona tells Victoria and Mark about this incredible program, and how it can enable remodelers and builders to provide a great service to our nation’s veterans, while also making a profit.

Jay is the chief, specially adapted housing at the Veterans Benefits Administration, and has worked as a remodeler and builder. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Jay will be at the Remodelers Summit 2019 in Orlando, Sept. 24-25, to talk more about the program. 

The SAH program began in 1948 as part of the G.I. Bill of Rights. It provides funding to veterans to enter a contractual relationship with builders or remodelers to make homes more accessible to assist with independent living. The SAH program is funding more than 2,000 projects a year with more than $100 million paid out. Jay talks about how the program works, how you can get involved, and what it can do for your business, including:

  • What you need to do to register
  • Help with marketing it
  • The separate compliance inspections and who does them
  • How funds are dispersed
  • Connecting with veterans
  • Opportunities for new remodelers
  • The minimum adaptations you need to do
  • Other grant opportunities veterans can get
  • And more …

Jay says the registration process is simple, and can be life-changing for veterans. To get more information, and to download the handbook he mentions, go to: https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/adaptedhousing.asp. And if you want more assistance, send an email to sahinfo.vbaco@va.gov.

Jay Will be a Guest Presenter at Summit… Don’t Miss it!

Jay Latona will be joining us at Summit and will give a brief presentation on how his organization is supporting veterans. If you haven’t registered for Summit, there’s still plenty of time to register and arrange your travel for the biggest and best Summit we’ve ever had!
Click Here for More information >>

Ep.78: The Most Powerful Competitive Advantage with Steve Anderson

In a low-unemployment economy, recruiting and retaining the best talent is a continuous effort. You need a powerful competitive advantage — one that’s nearly impossible for anyone else to copy. 

It’s your company culture.

In this episode, Steve Anderson tells Victoria and Mark why that is, and how you can develop a successful culture — or turn around a faltering one. 

Steve’s an author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He’s worked with tens of thousands of professionals to grow and expand their businesses. Steve has spoken at our Remodeler’s Summit and worked with our Roundtables members in the past.

Your company culture is a combination of priorities and processes, and how your team acts on them, that results in how people feel about your company, inside and out. It can happen by default or by definition, but almost all successful cultures happen by design. He tells you how to look at your culture critically, and the steps to take to improve it, including:

  • Building on natural laws 
  • Defining your priorities
  • Designing your culture intentionally
  • The law of emotion
  • What the 10 Commandments can teach you about changing your culture
  • Defining your culture in a written document
  • Setting expectations
  • Reinforcing acceptable behavior
  • Why the customer shouldn’t come first
  • Using your culture in recruiting and hiring
  • The culture mistakes you may be making
  • And more …

There’s a copy of Steve’s first written culture guide in his book, The Culture of Success: 10 Natural Laws for Creating a Place Where Everyone Wants to Work. He invites everyone to use that culture guide to create your own — just click the link and make your purchase.

Ep.77: Recession-Proofing Your Company with Dave Edwards

It’s easy to be successful in a great economy. You can get away with a lot of bad habits, lack of systems, and high overhead when jobs are large and margins high. But when the economy contracts, job sizes shrink, and margins erode, those bad habits can have a huge affect on the health of your company.

Focusing on the right things when times are good are key to recession-proofing your business.

In this episode, Dave Edwards talks to Victoria and Mark about the lessons he learned and the changes he made to create a healthy company following the last recession, and how that positions it to survive and even thrive in the next downturn.

Dave is the founder and president of Earth Bound Homes, a home-building and remodeling company in San Jose, CA. Before he joined Remodelers Advantage Roundtables in 2014, Dave spent 12 years learning all the different ways to not build and run a profitable construction company. 

His path to recession-proofing his company came after watching other remodelers and builders go out of business in the last recession. After his company almost went bankrupt in 2011, he joined Roundtables and also went to counseling. He talks about his path to success in business and in his personal life, and how he has built a company that can withstand an economic downturn, including:

  • Focusing on others’ happiness as the key to achievement
  • His metrics for success — it’s not all about money
  • Recognizing when someone else has better ideas, and running with them
  • The Stop/Start meeting to improve the company
  • How to bill like a lawyer
  • Making project management a source of income
  • Working with a tight subcontractor market who need extra management
  • Helping architects get their project packages together
  • Identifying bad habits and how to fix them
  • How unbilled labor can cut into your profits
  • Why he cut his field staff to boost his revenue
  • Getting the best people and keeping them happy
  • The power of diversity in company culture
  • And more …

Dave says the three big ways to ensuring your company’s survival are figuring out how to live on your salary as a business owner, banking your cash to be able to pay and retain your team during a downturn, and reducing your mark up to still be profitable.

Ep.76: [Unscripted Back-Up] Managing Your Customers with Chip Doyle

It’s time for another Unscripted Back-Up. It’s a chance to revisit some of our best and most informative episodes. They’re jam-packed with information you can use — so if you missed it the first time around, here’s your chance to catch up.

This is one of our most popular episodes, and digs in to a part of your remodeling business that few people really consider — managing your clients. 

If you — and especially your designers — aren’t managing those customers you’re wasting time and losing out on potential profits, says Chip Doyle.

In this episode, Victoria, Mark and Chip discuss how to speed up the hand off from design to production. Effectively managing client expectations, setting clear goals and deadlines, and guiding clients intentionally, gets you out of having projects park in design and selections. 

Chip has been in the sales industry for 29 years, and training with Sandler for nearly 17 years. He’s a sought-after speaker and co-authored Selling to Homeowners The Sandler Way. Chip has a licensed training center and trains companies of all sizes in Pleasant Hill, CA, helping them reach their full potential, exceed expectations and continue to grow.

Empowering designers to guide, and ultimately lead, clients through the design process can increase your profits by 25 percent. Some of the ways to get there include:

  • Cutting design time in half, without cutting corners
  • Giving designers the right role models
  • Managing “genius attacks”
  • Setting clear meeting goals and timely next steps
  • The importance of deadlines — for clients
  • Getting projects through that would otherwise stall
  • The traits to look for in a designer — toss the DISC assessment
  • And much more …

Need More Help?

If your designers, project managers, and other customer-facing team members need guidance on how to deliver excellent client services effectively, Chip is leading a course, Client Management Training for Designers & Architects, to address it all. It’s not a sales course, it’s specifically designed to give your team members the skills they need to get selections and designs past the bottleneck and into production, while creating and excellent customer experience.

Ep.75: Cash Flow: The Silent Killer

It’s incredibly busy in the remodeling world at the moment — leads are pouring in, proposals are flying out, and jobs are being scheduled like crazy. We’re seeing businesses with 30 percent growth, year over year.

Yet there’s a silent killer lurking beneath all the fevered growth: insufficient cash flow.

In this episode, Mark’s flying solo and he tackles the phenomenon of “growing broke” — being busier than ever, but running out of cash.

It can happen to the best, most experienced remodelers — times are almost too good, and it’s easy to lose track of your cash flow. Mark shares why you need to control it, and what to do if cash is starting to run out, including:

  • How to assess your cash flow situation
  • Why cash flow is king
  • Long-term planning strategies
  • What to do when you start feeling the pinch
  • How to address a problem if you’ve got one
  • Keeping your customer experience safe
  • And more …

If you’re concerned about where your cash situation is, set a calendar alert for the all-new RA University, launching Monday, Aug. 12 (the link is still to the older site). You’ll find five new lessons — and one of them is The Importance of Cash Flow. You’ll also find the The 5 Things to Never Do & The 5 Things to Always Do, Running a Paperless Office, Marketing that Works, and Setting Goals and Hitting Them. If you want to go even deeper and you can always reach out to us to help you find the solutions to your cash flow issues.

Ep.74: Pheel the Love — How the Most Powerful Force in the Universe Builds Great Companies with Tom Burgoyne

Everyone would love to have raving fans — and today’s guest is the most popular mascot in sports. 

Tom Burgoyne has had a 30-year career as the best friend of the Phillie Phanatic — the most popular mascot in sports. 

In this episode, Tom talks to Victoria and Mark about what the Phanatic has taught him about the importance of customer service in business — and how it can be the difference between being a good company and being a great one.

Tom has applied what he has learned in costume and talks about how the love people have for the Phanatic can be applied to your everyday working life. He’s also the author of Pheel The Love!: How the Most Powerful Force in the Universe Builds Great Companies — Phillie Phanatic Style! 

Tom was working in sales when he answered a blind ad to become the backup to the original Phanatic. He was the backup for four years before stepping up into the primary role. He realized the power of the character and the love the Phanatic generates and has applied the principles to boosting customer service and your company through love and fun, including:

  • Being authentic
  • Deciding to be loving
  • Noticing opportunities to share the love
  • Acting on the opportunities
  • The big smooch — making people feel special
  • Being optimistic consistently as a company
  • The Love 15 evaluation
  • And more …

Tom shares some of his most enduring memories as the Phanatic, including leading the 2008 World Series parade, and hot it gets in the costume, and what the Phanatic and Remodelers Advantage have in common.

Tom also has a podcast called Phillies Backstage with Brazer and Burgoyne. And you can check out his page on LinkedIn.

Ep.73: A Leader’s Inactions Are Just as Important as Actions with Wayne Rivers

Victoria and Mark are just back from their own peer group meeting, and were inspired by what they learned. In particular, they were excited by something they heard from another member, Wayne Rivers.

Wayne has a video blog, and we’re picking up one of his episodes about leadership. He says leaders tolerate bad behaviors in their organizations too often, and it can cost you money and time. The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate. You may hear some things that hit home for you in his talk.

Wayne is the co-founder and president of The Family Business Institute Inc. He has authored four books on the subject of business families, the latest of which is Our Family Business Crisis and How It Make Us Stronger. Wayne has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BusinessWeek: WEEKEND, and on the Retirement Living Network.

Wayne gives examples of toxic employee behavior in his talk today, and tells you how you can curb them, including:

  • The reasons you keep bad employees
  • Why you need to have performance reviews
  • The definition of stewardship
  • Why you need to have a recruiting system
  • Developing your spine
  • The benefits of outside support for leaders
  • The improve or remove system
  • And more …

You, as a leader, have to find the bad behaviors you’re tolerating, and figure out what to do about them to keep your company healthy. For more of Wayne’s videos, go the The Family Business Institute’s YouTube channel.

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