Business Management

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.

Ep.72: [Unscripted Back-Up] Building a Successful, Profitable Remodeling Company with Brandon Bailey

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.

Growing your remodeling company is filled with pitfalls and challenges that can prevent you from getting to the next level successfully. So many of our Roundtables members say it takes hard work, yes, but also a concentrated focus and a willingness to look for help from outside your organization when you need it.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark talk to Brandon Bailey, who’s a textbook example of a successful remodeler who made the right moves after deciding to significantly grow his business. 

Brandon is an owner of Bailey Remodeling & Construction, a design build company in Louisville, KY. After starting his business in 2005, Brandon was where many of our members were when they were starting out — producing good, reputable work but spinning their wheels with long hours, no systems in place, and no predictable revenue model. Sound familiar?

In 2009, Brandon and his business partner, Jon Steimel, set out to significantly change and grow their business. They’ve done a fantastic job, their awards include being named the 2017 Remodeler of the Year by the Building Industry Association in Louisville.They won two project awards from BIA in 2019. They are now have 10 team members and are looking for more.

Brandon talks about how the company has managed its growth, things to look out for, and what it has meant for the business and his life, including:

  • The specific challenges when growing
  • Finding outside resources to help his business
  • What it was like working with a business coach and peer group
  • Which KPIs to keep an eye on
  • Growing his team beyond the two partners
  • Building a sales system
  • Establishing a consistent and predictable revenue model
  • Increasing net profit
  • What his business and day-to-day life is like now
  • And more …

Brandon’s story will sound familiar to so many remodelers, and the steps he has taken to build a more successful, profitable remodeling company can be guide your own journey.

Join Remodeling’s Top One Percent

Brandon is a fantastic example of a business owner who took advantage of the Power of Roundtables. Our program is a world-class peer advisory service that brings together smart, motivated remodeling professionals, just like you, to help one another grow.

Want to learn how you can participate in this experienced braintrust? Learn More Here >>

Ep.71: Strategy Isn’t Enough with Brian Gottlieb

A successful remodeling business isn’t only dependent on tactics or the larger strategy behind them. A company’s culture plays a crucial role in executing any business strategy. 

In this episode, Brian Gottlieb discusses the key steps needed for a business to implement their desired strategy with Victoria and Mark.

Brian Gottlieb is the founder and CEO of Tundraland Home Improvements, which serves all of Wisconsin. He started his business on a plastic folding table, with just $3,000 in cash. Today, Tundraland employs more than 220 people, and revenues  are in excess of $42 million. We’re excited that Brian will also be a speaker at the Remodelers Summit in Orlando this September.

He defines strategy as an integrated set of choices an organization makes to position against the competition, add value to their customers, and add value to the company. Brian’s “a-ha” moment came last summer, when he understood that when a community is at its full potential, we’re all in a better place; and when an organization is at its full potential, we’re all in a better place. He calls Tundraland a training organization — developing an employee to his or her full potential is a key point of the company’s  strategy. Brian describes the four ways to define your culture, and how to make it stronger, including:

  • How building a strong culture is like building a ship
  • How realizing potential depends on others
  • Why Brian doesn’t have drawers in his office
  • Examples of the wrong strategies
  • Knowing how to add value for you customers
  • Why you shouldn’t hire people like you
  • Finding the root causes of your weaknesses
  • Why throwing dollars at a problem doesn’t work
  • The differences between vision and a road map
  • Why firing someone should never be a surprise
  • And more …

Including how Brian sees his role in his organization, what he does, and what it means to the culture of his organization.

See Brian Speak at the Annual Remodeler’s Summit

We’re thrilled that Brian will be joining us for two sessions at the 2019 Remodeler’s Summit, Sept. 24-25, in Orlando:

To learn more the Summit event and our line-up of other great speakers, go to Remodelerssummit.com!

2019 Remodelers Summit

Ep.70: The Most Important Part of a Remodeling Project with Robert Kauffman

So many things go into a successful remodeling project — the design, the materials, the actual build — but what’s really the most important part? It’s your client. 

Remodeling a home can change your clients’ lives. Robert Kauffman says the secret to a successful remodel is working upfront to get to know your clients to the greatest extent possible.

In this episode, Robert shares his story with Victoria and Mark, and how and why he gets to know his clients so well. Getting to know your clients takes asking questions — and listening to the answers. 

Robert is the owner of Kauffman Design Services in Atlanta, GA. He’s worked with architectural firms, as a remodeling contractor, and currently as a remodeling designer. He has never taken for granted the trust it takes for clients to open their lives up to him. 

On his first remodeling project, Robert realized that digging for answers from clients helped him understand how the clients wanted to live in their home. Each client has a unique story, Robert says, and getting them to open up to tell it is vital to understanding their real goals. He talks about how to get the answers you want, including:

  • His book of 1,000 questions
  • Why asking what people do in their bedrooms isn’t creepy 
  • How different people use identical homes
  • Guiding clients to direct the project
  • How family dynamics affect the questions and final designs
  • Observing the non-verbal clues and cues
  • Putting all the details together at the end
  • How long it takes, and how to do it
  • And more …

The more you understand your clients’ lives, and how they live in the home you’re remodeling, the better your projects will be.

Ep.69: How to Protect and Grow your Business with Performance Testing with Corbett Lunsford

Physics and chemistry affect the interior of every home, every day. Performance testing can enable remodelers to predict and prevent health, safety, and comfort issues, earn more for your work, and predict and prevent callbacks, claims, and lawsuits.

As a remodeler, you have two choices. You can test for and design performance controls into your projects to predict and prevent side effects. Or you make assumptions and hope for the best.

You might make problems worse, and take the heat for it. 

In this episode, Corbett Lunsford talks about home systems, performance, and testing with Victoria and Mark. Home performance is the invisible “stuff” that happens inside a home — how it feels, smells, and sounds. 

Corbett loves investigating invisible dynamics using high-tech techniques and tools. He’s the co-host of the PBS series Home Diagnosis, the Building Performance Podcast, and the author of Home Performance Diagnostics: the Guide to Advanced Testing.

Every remodeling project will affect how a home works — for better or worse. Building inspections are about the static state — what’s there all the time. Performance dynamics have to do with all the actions of the house while it’s working. You need testing to be able to predict that. Remodelers deal with and interfere with these dynamics as part of their work — there will be changes. Corbett says the first tests to do are a blower-door test, using infrared cameras to pinpoint roof leaks and moisture detection, and other reasons why home testing can improve your projects, business and client satisfaction, including:

  • Tuning a home like an instrument
  • Taking the guesswork out of the home performance
  • How pressure issues can cause mold and mildew
  • Why home interiors affect health
  • Atmospheric draft, water heaters, and range hoods
  • Charging more for optimizing home system performance
  • Testing for the invisible dynamics
  • Load calculations and energy models for HVAC choices
  • Why testing also makes homes more energy efficient
  • The marketing opportunities for you
  • The power of statistics
  • And more …

Corbett warns that your clients may know about the importance of performance testing because they’re watching home-improvement shows like his — and you have to stay ahead of what the general public knows or lose credibility. As a first step, you can download his ebook, Proof Is Possible: How to Keep an Eye on Your New Home Construction or Home Improvement

You can also see his tiny house and more on his YouTube channel: https://YouTube.com/c/HomePerformance.

Ep.68: Managing Your Sales while Wearing Many Hats with Chip Doyle

Most remodelers wear many hats, and sales management is only one of them. So you have to handle sales functions on a part-time basis. As you grow and add salespeople, overseeing that department becomes yet another job duty.

In this episode, Chip Doyle discusses how to successfully manage the sales department on a part-time basis with Victoria and Mark.

Chip wrote the book Selling to Homeowners — The Sandler Way. He trains many R/A members, including owners, salespeople, designers and project managers how to sell — without sounding like salespeople.

Being a good sales manager takes a different skill set than being a salesperson does. You need to be patient, predictable in your coaching, and temper your expectations for their own lead generation. Chip says he’s seeing a higher success rate with developing salespeople from within remodeling companies, rather than hiring from outside — people who are good at selling are already busy and making great money. But wherever your find your new sales staff, Chip talks about ways to set them — and your company — up for success, including:

  • When to hire a new salesperson
  • Performing a sales assessment
  • What they should sell first
  • Why prospecting is crucial
  • Why they should under-qualify leads
  • How many meetings to have and when
  • The questions to ask your sales staff
  • How to help your salespeople
  • Why truthfulness is mandatory
  • How much time to spend on sales management
  • And more …

Including why just selling the next step — not the whole project at once — is the key to good sales.

Get The Edge You Need

If you’d like to help brushing up your — or your staff’s — sales techniques, Chip runs a weekly training session called Sales Edge. It brings together a group of non-competing R/A members to sharpen their approach to this vitally important business function. Find out more today.

Ep.67: Kicking Off Slippage Awareness Month with Tim Faller

Here at Remodelers Advantage we set aside the month of June to focus on an issue that plagues most service-based businesses, but can be a critical metric in looking at the success of a remodeling firm. This is our third annyal “Slippage Awareness Month” and this year you’ll see content submissions from our consulting, sales, and production experts here at R/A. Enjoy!

Every remodeling business owner wants to add more money to the bottom line. Reducing slippage is the lowest-hanging fruit to pick in your quest.

In this episode, Tim Faller talks to Victoria and Mark about reducing slippage in your remodeling company. Slippage occurs when your estimate is lower than the real costs of the job. Reducing it takes a change in mindset throughout the organization.

For 17 years, Tim has worked with hundreds of remodeling companies to improve profits by creating smooth, efficient production systems. As a Senior Consultant and Master of Production for Remodelers Advantage, Tim’s field and business ownership experience is vital to his additional role as facilitator for Owner and Production Manager Roundtables Groups. He’s also  a published author and popular industry speaker, Tim is co-host of The Tim Faller Show, a weekly podcast focused on “Improving The Bottom Line Through Production Training.”

The biggest challenge in reducing slippage is getting your whole team involved in the effort. Tim says slippage is too often brushed off with “It is what it is.”  That’s where the change in mindset comes in — the attitude should be “It is what we make it.” Slippage is controllable, but it takes a company-wide awareness and work to corral it through realistic and accurate estimating,  job scheduling, and building in time to de-bug a job before it starts. He talks about the ways to reduce slippage in your processes, including:

  • Finding the slippage
  • The perfect planning process
  • Building in time, and how much
  • Developing a critical eye, not a critical attitude
  • Why realistic estimating geared to your team is key
  • Why you need long-term, short-range, and daily planning
  • Killing schedule creep for better net profit
  • Building extra time into the schedule
  • Figuring out days-per-job overhead
  • Controlling the client
  • Doing change orders properly
  • And more …

Cutting slippage is possible — and will make a big difference in the health of your business.

 

Ep.66: How to Get Employees to Think and Act Like Owners with Steve Wheeler

If everyone in your remodeling business feels like they’re invested in your company — so invested that they think and act like owners — they’ll make better decisions, solve more problems, and make it more profitable.

But how do you get there?

In this episode, our own Steve Wheeler talks to Victoria and Mark about how to get your employees to think and act like owners. It’s a process he started when he had his own remodeling business for 12 years, and then he dove deeper into the subject through his work with R/A.

As director of business development for Remodelers Advantage, Steve is responsible for new membership sales and helping business owners find the program or product that will help them reach their financial and personal goals. In addition to leading business development for R/A, Steve is co-host of The Tim Faller Show, a weekly podcast focused on improving the bottom line through production training.

Getting employees to think and act like owners is one of the biggest challenges for our Roundtables members, and for every remodeler we talk to. Steve developed his approach by trying to get his team to care about his company as much as he did, based on the cycle of accountability and the TOADS steps developed by Linda Galindo in The Accountability Experience. There are actions that can cause real change. He talks about the keys to the process, how to get there, and the benefits, including:

  • The power of delegation
  • Reducing owner stress
  • Transforming through transparency
  • Getting beyond the to-do list to higher thinking
  • Talking about the big picture
  • Enabling decision-making power
  • Thinking of employees as renters or owners
  • Allowing employees to fail
  • And more …

Including the Clear Agreement Form we promised. And the story of how one of Steve’s projects turned a duplex into a single family home (it was supposed to stay a duplex).

Ep.65: How to Turn Your Travel into an Epic Marketing Opportunity

There’s an overlooked opportunity for you to shine in your marketing. For some of you, this opportunity only comes once a year. For others (like many of our Roundtables members) it comes nine or 10 times a year. Regardless of how often the opportunity presents itself, odds are you’re squandering it.

It’s your “out of office” email message.

In this episode, Mark’s flying solo. Victoria’s taking a well-earned vacation and it prompted him to think about this often under-used touchpoint with clients, trade partners, and prospects.

Take some time to make your message memorable in your rush to get out the door. Be human. Be creative. Be thorough so that if it’s a time-critical email, the person who contacted you has a means of getting through to someone else. Think of all the boring and canned out-of-office messages you accumulate in your in-box — and don’t do that. Mark’s tips for an awesome outgoing message include:

  • How to write a great subject line
  • Why you should pad your return date
  • Setting up a custom email for urgent matters
  • Giving a gift in the reply
  • And more …

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make a connection — a human one — while you’re kicking back and out of the daily grind.

Ep.64: What Healthcare Can Teach Remodeling about LEAN with Liz Moisan

Toyota pioneered the LEAN manufacturing system, and we know — houses aren’t cars. But neither are people, and the LEAN concept of continuous improvement is used by hospitals too. 

So even if remodeling isn’t brain surgery, we can learn a lot from how LEAN has been applied in healthcare. You can get some of the best help with your business by looking at how other industries use continuous improvement.

In this episode, Liz Moisan talks to Victoria and Mark about using LEAN principles in healthcare and how it can be applied to remodeling. She says Kaizen or LEAN principles give you a common language for things we already know, creating a foundation to move forward.

Liz is a product innovation specialist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, and has been a practitioner of the Virginia Mason Production System since 2008. She teaches, facilitates, and works to continually evolve how Kaizen is applied in a health-care setting. She’s married to R/A Roundtables member Matt Moisan.

The hospital employs daily Kaizen, so even the smallest roadblock can be eliminated, as well as  higher-level applications. She shares some real-world examples, including cutting down on waiting times for patients (yay!), working with vendors to get what the hospital needs when it needs it, The Five Ss, and how to look at a particular process to improve it, including:

  • Where to start
  • Staying true to the tools
  • Identifying and eliminating waste in processes
  • The evolution of continuous improvement
  • Breaking the status quo and getting buy-in
  • Understanding supply and demand for materials
  • Onboarding new employees in LEAN principles
  • Training at the management level
  • Finding the “rock in your shoe”
  • When and why to get help
  • And more …

Here are those two books Liz recommends for getting started understanding the Kaizen principles:

  1. The Toyota Way
  2. Transforming Healthcare: Virginia Mason Medical Center’s Pursuit of the Perfect Patient Experience

If You Would Like to Learn More About LEAN For Remodeling…

Consider attending our online course, “LEAN For Remodelers” where our “LEAN Guru” Doug Howard helps you improve your profits & grow your business by mastering continuous improvement through LEAN. This 6-session class, meets weekly & is a combination of online instruction and hands-on exercises, in a virtual classroom setting. Classes start on July 10th, so click here for more information & registration.

 
 

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