Business Management

Ep.89: Focusing on Clarity in Communication with Jeremy Steinruck

We’re under an almost-constant barrage of information from every angle. As leaders in our business, it’s imperative that our messages are clearly understood. But it’s equally important, if not more so, that we get messages clearly. 

Looking ahead to 2020, Jeremy Steinruck is focusing on clarity in communication and cutting through the white noise.  

In this episode, Jeremy discusses how to make your communication skills better with Victoria and Mark, what it will take, and how it will help your business and your life.

Jeremy is co-owner and vice president of Axis Construction in Wichita Falls, TX, a company he and partner Jeff Miller started 13 years ago. Jeremy holds a master’s degree in human resource management, but he is most thankful for the influence of incredible mentors and friends who have shared their wisdom freely. 

Learning to be a better communicator is possible, even if it’s not in your native skillset. Jeremy says the first part, for him, was getting rid of his “head trash.” He had to get rid of limiting beliefs, only hang on to ideas that could be proven true, eliminate his assumptions of what someone else believes, and not let any of those things influence his decisions. He talks about how to get past that, and boost your communication and listening skills, including:

  • The basic rules of engagement
  • Facing fears
  • Placing yourself in someone else’s comfort zone
  • How to plan your conversations
  • Understanding you can’t convince someone else
  • Asking questions to get to others’ needs
  • Setting goals at the beginning of the conversation
  • Communicating with intent
  • The four things to do before having a tough conversation
  • And more …

Two of the biggest barriers to effective communication are distraction and selfishness, and Jeremy says that recentering and concentrating on your core values will help you get over them.

Ep.88: All Help Is the Same, Isn’t it? with Allison Iantosca

As a seasoned business professional, you’ve probably been on both sides of the equation when it comes to giving and getting help. Get advice, give consultation. Gain a mentor, bestow some wisdom. While in these essential moments, we want to help and be helped, that doesn’t always happen. 

It helps to know there are differences in the types of support we can give and get — and what they are. 

In this episode, Allison Iantosca will discuss those distinctions with Victoria and Mark, and how stopping and thinking about how you ask for or give help will make the results more useful and valuable.

Allison is the president and owner of F.H. Perry Builder, a Boston-area custom remodeling firm focused on building homes and relationships of lasting value.

Though there are nuanced distinctions, coaching, consulting, and mentoring are not the same thing, says Allison. Knowing the differences will make the help given or gotten more relevant and valuable. Figuring it out includes knowing what you want to offer or receive in that moment, including:

  • Who needs what, and when
  • Concentrating on process in coaching
  • Consulting and advising on outcomes
  • Using experience in mentoring for a shared outcome
  • Coaching your staff
  • How to know what help to ask for
  • The time periods needed for each
  • Asking the right questions to spur the right answers
  • And more …

One of the best ways to differentiate between the three main types of help you can give or get is to determine the goal, and what choices need to be made to get there.

And Speaking of Consulting & Coaching …

As we head into 2020, there is no better time than RIGHT NOW to be planning for how your company will hit the profit goals that you have committed to… What? You have no Goals? No Plan? Well, we will help you with that too!

Join us on Tuesday, November 19th as our CFO & Director of Consulting, Doug Howard, hosts a FREE Webinar and walks you through the key steps to Creating Your Wining Strategy for 2020.

Click Here for More Information and to grab your spot.

Ep.87: Partnership — Creating a Unified Vision for your Company’s Future with Matt Carlson

Having a business partner can be an enormous advantage if you approach it correctly. Most people underestimate the commitment and work that goes into a partnership. Ensuring that you’re on the same page and share the same vision goes far beyond having a plan on paper.

In this episode, Matt Carlson shares his story with Victoria and Mark, and what he’s learned as the minority partner in his business in making the relationship work.

Matt is the general manager and co-owner of Fox Home Innovations in Manhattan, KS. After 10 years in the business, and nine as an owner he has a unique perspective on the lessons he has learned from growing FHI alongside his business partner Chris Fox.

Matt and Chris met in college, and worked on several projects together there while both where studying entrepreneurship. Matt then joined Chris in his new remodeling company. He started out working in the field, and Chris proposed the partnership idea quickly. It started as a trial run for a year, while he was still considered an employee. They made it official after the trial period. Matt talks about what you need to do to create and maintain a successful partnership, including:

  • Making the commitment
  • Being open and honest
  • Putting egos aside
  • How to maintain an equal partnership regardless of ownership stake
  • The importance of having open books
  • Delegating duties and responsibilities
  • Keeping egos out of it
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Speaking with one voice
  • Taking a thoughtful approach to long-term company health
  • And more …

If you’re in a partnership, or are considering one, Matt says the biggest thing to remember is to put the business first — above any personal relationship you share.

Never Stop Learning…

In today’s episode, Mark mentions our Masterclass sessions that are now available. These two-day courses are intimate, interactive sessions with plenty of hands-on instruction. Small class sizes mean you have plenty of time to interact with your trainer and classmates. All of our instructors are industry experts and among the best in their fields of expertise. To see our slate of available courses, go to https://www.remodelersadvantage.com/events-training/masterclass

Ep.86: Connecting with a Few Good Realtors with Kathi Fleck

Working with just a few Realtors can bring additional jobs to your remodeling company. It’s not about appealing to the masses, but about developing relationships with several realtors who appreciate how you work, your quality, attention to detail, and exceptional client experience. 

In this episode, Kathi Fleck discusses working with Realtors with Victoria and Mark, and how to establish and maintain relationships that can get more jobs for your company, help them sell more homes, and take care of your shared clients.  

Kathi is co-owner of LoneStar Design Build in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX, area, where she leads a team and their clients through the design-build experience. Kathi has a long-term relationship with Coldwell Banker Real Estate, and other Realtors who send business her way.

Realtors go out of their way to support the seller/ buyer experience, says Kathi. Helping their clients with remodeling and providing referrals is part of their daily routine. As remodelers working with realtors, understand how Realtors work and make them look good as they support their client. It can be challenging, but Kathi says a few simple tricks can pay off with easy referrals, including:

  • Finding partners who fit your company and market
  • How to make their lives easier
  • Getting the right referrals
  • Dealing with bad leads
  • Avoiding the bid process
  • How referrals can go in the other direction
  • How much to invest in marketing to Realtors
  • The power of free food
  • And more …

The best way to start is by contacting real estate offices and setting up a presentation, calling an agent who works in the same neighborhoods you do, and taking advantage of networking groups.

Building a Better Design Process

Kathi will be presenting on another topic as she helps lead our next MasterClass, Building an Effective Design Process, on Dec. 11-12, here in Baltimore. She’ll be joined by other experienced, award-winning remodelers who will teach you or your designers how to improve your design process and create an extraordinary experience for your clients. Get the details and register here.

Ep.85: Unraveling the Undervalued “Proactive Outbound Sales Call” Metric with Abe Degnan

Our Roundtables members share their financial metrics at every meeting, in what we call the composite report. But there’s one field that’s almost always reported as zero.

It’s the proactive outbound sales call metric. It’s confusing to many, not just as a field on a spreadsheet, but as an activity.

Abe Degnan says this metric is valuable to all remodeling companies, and making those calls builds his own company’s sales pipeline.

In this episode, Abe joins Victoria and Mark to explain the proactive outbound sales call, how to track it, and what it can do for your company. 

Abe is president, problem-solver and life changer at Degnan Design Build Remodel in DeForest, WI. He also manages day-to-day business operations — and as a long-time Roundtables member, Abe knows how important it is to measure what is managed.

This statistic isn’t just for replacement companies with a call center, says Abe. A proactive outbound sales call also doesn’t have to be a phone call. It occurs any time you follow up on your sales process in a way that is outside of your established sales routine or is something your client isn’t expecting you to do. Abe talks about what those follow ups can be, and how to track them, including:

  • Why sales needs to do it, not marketing
  • Sending handwritten note cards
  • Calling on cold leads
  • Contacting a lead that fell off your radar
  • Networking for leads
  • The number of activities you should do
  • The ROI on the effort
  • Who you should reach out to
  • Including it in your marketing plan
  • How long it can take to convert
  • And more …

Making proactive outside sales activities a part of your business can get, and while it’s a marketing activity, it has to be carried out by the sales staff to be effective.

Speaking of Marketing…

If you’re looking for more ideas and better ways to market your company, check out Mark Harari’s Masterclass this December 9th & 10th in Baltimore called “I ‘AM’ the Marketing Department.” It covers all the major aspects of running a marketing department, and is specially geared to meeting the needs a marketing department of one.

Ep.84: Crafting a Strategic Marketing Plan with Mark Harari

It’s that time of year — it’s time to put together your company’s marketing plan for next year. If you don’t know where to start or what your plan should include, Mark’s here to help.

In this episode, Mark is on a one-man mission to get your strategic marketing plan into shape.

First thing to know — your marketing budget isn’t your marketing plan. It’s the most common error we see, and that’s just a list of ways to spend money, not a plan. You have to set goals, and create tactics to get there. It can run up to 40 pages for a small business, and should encompass branding, positioning, a SWOT analysis and more. But if you don’t have a plan yet, Mark tells you how to take small steps toward creating a larger plan by starting with a strategy, including:

  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Setting time frames
  • Getting specific
  • And more …

This is the first step to creating a larger marketing plan — and something you should have complete before you start creating your marketing budget. If you need more help getting your marketing in gear, send an email to mark@remodelersadvantage.com. We’ve also got a MasterClass for marketing in December called I “AM” the Marketing Department that will kick-start your marketing strategy and planning.

Ep.83: Using Trade Area Analytics to Grow Your Business with Nick Ogle

There’s not much that’s more frustrating than missing out on business opportunities close to home. Understanding the numbers that surround your business’s trade area is critical to determining what may be flying under your radar. Through analytics, you can interpret those numbers and take advantage of what they tell you.

In this episode, Nick Ogle talks to Victoria and Mark about how using trade area analytics can help businesses with growth and strategic planning.

Nick is the Bath & Kitchen Buying Group’s executive director, and brings more than two decades of kitchen industry experience to BKBG, having previously served as director of strategic partnerships and national accounts for Masco Cabinetry. Nick received his degree in selling and sales management from Purdue University, and currently lives in Michigan with his wife and son. BKBG is also RA’s newest strategic partner in helping our members grow their businesses.

There’s so much information and data available, but you’ve got to pick the right numbers to analyze — and look at them the right way. Trade area analytics break down the numbers in your surrounding market and let you compare it to your own business model and services. It can be eye-opening, Nick says. He talks about how a remodeler can find the right data and how to use it, including:

  • Starting at your local library
  • Resources you can use for little to no money
  • What data to look for
  • Demographic and housing stock to analyze
  • What to compare your local data to
  • Setting benchmarks
  • Why it can help you grow your area or do better where you already are
  • How to identify the hot remodeling areas
  • Understanding your area’s history to predict the future
  • How to look at the numbers the right way
  • When to ask for outside help
  • Who to ask
  • And more …

Analyzing your local numbers can help you make the most of your marketing budget, reach the right people in the right places, and make more money. To find out more about BKBG, you can go to the website, or you can call Nick at 440-313-4275.

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.

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