Are you resistant to change? Do you believe that because something has always worked for you, it’s “obviously” the best way to do it? Have you ever said, “we’ve always done it this way,” as an argument against change?
If so, then you are playing a dangerous game of chicken with your company, because these six words will eventually be the downfall of your business.
In this week’s episode, Victoria and Mark discuss the dangers hidden behind this seemingly innocent string of words, and they share proven methods to not only overcome your fear of change, but also to ensure you’re making the right decisions for change.
Because change for changes sake is just as dangerous as not changing at all.
Are you able to drive change in your business? Are you “stuck” & unsure about what step to take next?
Editor’s note: We’re all working from our homes, away from the friendly confines of the office and its podcasting studio. So we dug into the virtual vault to bring you this episode. We’re in an uncertain time for many remodelers, so here’s some advice that will help you weather any business climate.
One of our core principles is that remodeling companies should make a good net profit, after paying the owners an above-average salary. When the economy’s booming, you can get away with a lot and still hit those goals, sometimes by accident. But the goal is to get those healthy net profits consistently, year after year, even in a downturn.
In this episode, Mike Medford Sr. talks to Victoria and Mark about how to do just that. Before seeing the metrics of the Top Ten Roundtables members a few years ago, Mike says his financials were always in flux. But then he took those figures and made them hard targets.
Mike Medford Sr. has been a home remodeling contractor for over 40 years. In 2007, he partnered with his son, Mike Jr. to form what is now Medford Design Build, with offices in Colleyville and Arlington, TX. Mike Sr. is the president of Medford Design Build.
Mike challenged himself and his team to hit the new fixed targets. He refined their processes and challenged his team to hit those targets. By the next quarterly meeting, the company’s profits were rising. He talks about how he and his team made it happen, including:
Creating a profit-centric culture
How net profits will help you beat the labor shortage
Focusing your staff on gross profit
The importance of open books to the process
Setting up a bonus structure
Building time in to plan
Mike also talks about getting back to the art of contracting and how important that is to your margins.
Time to Give Back…
After more than 30 years of working with some of the finest Remodelers and Renovators in the business, we are facing new challenges in our industry. We want to give back to an industry that has supported us through good times and bad, and so we’ve created Build Aid, a free event to help support our members, associates, and friends in the remodeling community.
Join us on April 1-2 as we explore various ways your business can navigate these tough times, and position yourselves as a leader when the world begins to recover and re-build. Click Here to Learn More & Register >>
We talk about the J Curve a lot around here — picture a lower-case J. When you apply change principles to your business — new people, systems, and processes — they can initially send your business on a downward trajectory before soaring with your success. If you want to grow your company, listen carefully!
Our guest today breaks this process down into four stages of development:
Forming: The getting to know you stage
Storming: When conflicts arise (the bottom of the J)
Norming: Common goals are defined, an agreement is reached
Performing: Working toward a common goal and looking forward
In this episode, Kathy O’Brien talks to Victoria and Mark about how to manage your growth strategies and the importance of being a strong leader in challenging times.
Kathy was the founding CEO of the St. Louis Alzheimer’s Association for over 25 years and then served as Senior Vice President of the National Office in Chicago. She received numerous awards and recognition for her work. Kathy now volunteers as a mentor/consultant to 5stone Construction in St. Louis, MO, helping with business growth strategies — she first got to know the company as a client. She was so impressed with the quality of the work and the people, she has worked with 5stone for the last several years, developing systems and processes, determining annual goals and individual employee performance indicators, hiring to get “the right people on the bus,” and managing fast growth over the last four years.
Kathy says those four stages of development apply to making positive growth in professional development, organizational development, and personal development. You go through the stages in every business relationship, personal relationship, and client relationship. She breaks down the stages, and how they present themselves in the remodeling business, including:
How it plays out with employees
Why it’s a continuous process
Getting through the storming stage successfully
How one person can cause a storm
Why leadership and core values are important through all the stages
Making it okay to disagree, and fostering honest dialog
What to do when you’re still sinking
And more …
If you’re finding yourself stuck in the storming stage, Kathy says there’s great value in having support with other leaders, by networking or in peer groups. She also recommends three books to read to boost your leadership skills:
One of the strongest ways to differentiate your business in your market is to have a niche.
Wright Marshall’s company, Revival Construction, has always focused on one highly specific niche and is constantly refining its team and systems to be the leader in that segment.
In this episode, Wright will share his approach with Victoria and Mark, and why following his passion for historic architecture helped him create a successful remodeling business.
In May 2000, Wright Marshall formed Revival Construction Inc. in Atlanta, GA, dedicated to renovating and restoring Atlanta’s older homes. The company focuses on classically designed whole-house renovations, and additions to houses built before WWII in the intown areas of Atlanta. Revival’s mission is to build beautiful homes and lasting relationships. Wright’s also a longtime Roundtables member.
Wright minored in architectural history in college, and planned to build for a while before going to architecture school. He didn’t go. Instead he concentrated on remodeling and building additions on older homes, allowing him to follow his passion for classical architecture and run a successful business. While there were other companies doing it in his market, they weren’t doing as well as he thought he could. Wright concentrated on providing a better customer experience in that niche, as well as:
Determining if your passion can be a sustainable business
Working with architects
Why design-build doesn’t have to be in one company
Building your reputation in the niche
Defining success in hiring
Investing in estimating
The importance of discipline
Setting smaller, realistic goals
The advantages of finding your niche
And more …
You can also learn why Wright chose the name Revival for his company, and also get to hear a little bit of an Allman Bros. song. Also, give yourself a little time to look through Revival’s Project Portfolio — there are some beautiful examples of Wright’s work.
Become a Master
Our MasterClass courses are two-day sessions of rich, interactive information with plenty of hands-on instruction. We limit our classes to 12-18 people, giving you ample opportunity to work one-on-one with the instructors. All our instructors are well-known respected industry experts and some of the best in their fields of expertise. Learn more about our MasterClasses in marketing, the design process, bookkeeping, and project management.
Leads! Lead! Leads! Business is good, leads are coming in. But are you over-qualifying, under-qualifying, or doing it just right?
Chip Doyle’s got research that says 30-60 percent of business is lost because the initial phone call is handled incorrectly. So if you’re not doing it just right, you’re leaving money behind.
In this episode, Chip’s back with Victoria and Mark to break down the best practices for lead evaluation over the phone, and what to leave for the salesperson to handle in the prospect’s home.
Chip Doyle wrote Selling to Homeowners — The Sandler Way, a best-selling industry book, and has been offering Sandler training for 20 years. He has worked with hundreds of remodeling companies across North America — including many of our Roundtables members and RA University members, and many other RA programs.
The most fundamental mistake many remodeling companies make — especially in this hot market — is mismanaging leads over the phone. Over-qualifying leads means you’re actually losing money, says Chip. He says the salesperson’s job is to go out and get “no”s. Getting into the home is key, but too many owners wear too many hats, and don’t have enough time to devote to sales calls. The result is being too stringent during the initial phone calls. Chip talks about how to qualify your prospects the right way, including:
How long the initial call should take
Who should do the qualifying
Training the qualifier, or LIP
Why not to talk budget during the lead take-in
Ensuring that the homeowner has a positive experience on that first call
Finding out the client’s pain points while on the phone
Why the time frame of the job is a fair question
What a Volvo in the driveway or piano in the home can tell you
Making and confirming appointments
And more …
Let us know if you’d like to participate in Lead Intake Person training, send Mark an email at: email@example.com with LIP in the subject line. If we get enough interest, we’ll get Chip to teach the class.
Did You Know: Chip Doyle is a Featured Instructor with R/A…
We have Chip on our schedule for two upcoming programs. The SalesEdge program is for RA members who qualify, and the weekly topics will be tailored to the collective strengths and weaknesses of the limited number of participants for maximum results. See more about SalesEdge.
It’s our 100th episode, and to mark the occasion, we’re welcoming back our first guest ever to talk about how to leave your business behind happily.
On average, 75 percent of founders who exit their company have regrets within one year of leaving, and only five percent are actually happy with the net proceeds of their exit.
In this episode, John Warrillow will discuss why this happens with Victoria and Mark, and how business owners can better prepare for an exit that will leave them with no regrets.
John is an entrepreneur and author with more than 20 years of research into the small- and medium-sized business market. He’s the founder of The Value Builder System, which aims to level the playing field for business owners as they approach their exits.
When you sell your company, there are factors that will dictate how happy you are after it’s no longer yours, says John. The first is that the business is ready to sell. The second is a little less clear-cut — the seller has to have done the psychological work that sets them up for success. John talks about what that means, and how to get to the point where you can make a successful exit, including:
Why there can be regrets
Being clear on what’s next
The “push factors” vs. the “pull factors”
Selling and staying or going
Why it’s not about the money
The biggest fears that come with selling
Dealing with private equity groups
The pitfalls of financing your buyer
How to treat your employees during the transition
The top three things that determine if your business is ready to sell
And more …
If you’d like to hear more about the first part of successfully selling your company — getting it ready to sell — listen to Episode 1. And to learn even more, go to John’s website, builttosell.com.
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Being able to adapt and lead through a crisis — personal or business — is a critical skill for any business owner.
After their best year ever in 2018, Jef and Monica Forward were gearing up for an even stronger 2019. Everything was on course until two key players were diagnosed with cancer. One of them was Monica, who was the company’s only estimator at the time. The other was their lead designer.
One year later, everyone is alive, and despite all the difficulties, they also hit all of their business goals.
In this episode, Jef and Monica talk about the challenges with Victoria and Mark, and share insights into how they kept it all going.
Jef and Monica are business partners at Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor MI. Jef has participated in every level at Remodelers Advantage Roundtables and is a member of our MentorFor group. Over the last four years, Jef has focused on improving his coaching and leadership skills, resulting in improved client satisfaction, planned healthy growth and a positive team culture. Jef was recently a semi-finalist for the Fred Case Entrepreneur Award, and for the Remodelers Advantage Impact Award. Jef credits all of this success to his collaboration with Monica, their team, and Roundtables.
The team culture at their company was a key component of the company coming together and adapting to the emotional and business changes, Monica and Jef say. When her diagnosis came, they were about to implement The Great Game of Business, which empowers every employee to act like an owner and share in the profits. But then everything changed. Jef and Monica talk about how they got through the year, including:
Being prepared for the unexpected
Developing a strategy to get through
How to deal with work absences
The importance of cross-training
Figuring out who takes over the extra work
Tapping into the strength of your team
Being open about your tough times
Leading through vulnerability
Maintaining a positive attitude
Handling the emotional components
And more …
The company continues to perform at peak levels due to the strength of the company culture, and their proven processes and systems.
Cool Gear, Great Cause
If you’re looking for cool gear and apparel to show your Roundtables pride that also supports a great cause, check out our Shop. All of the proceeds go to our partner, The American Cancer Society. It’s a win-win!
Jobs are won or lost during the design process. With so much on the line, it’s clear that your design department should be running at peak performance. But there are so many ways the process can get derailed.
It all depends on how you structure your design department, and what metrics you use to hold them accountable.
In this episode, Chris Landis discusses about how to build and run an efficient design department with Victoria and Mark.
Chris is a partner (with his brother Ethan) in Landis Architects/Builders in Washington, DC, and is a longtime Roundtables member. He’s a registered architect in four states (MD, DC, VA, NY). Chris graduated from Vassar College, and earned his M.A. in architecture from Columbia Architecture School. Chris is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and has 28 years of experience in residential architecture. He is a current member of the DC Historic Preservation Review Board and past president of the DC Metro area chapter of NARI.
Chris has a design department of nine people after 30 years in the business. When the company got to the point of having three designers, Chris hired a manager for that department to ensure that the work was standardized and high quality. He talks about how to set up your own design department for success and create a quicker process, including:
The metrics to gauge success
The designer’s role in his company
Recruiting and hiring for the department
Working back from net profit
When to hire a design manager
His three-phase process
How he charges for them
Figuring out a healthy close ratio
Taking on a design-only project
Why to conduct a feasibility study — sometimes
Working with design sub-contractors
And more …
Design can be a profit center, not a loss-leader, and you have to know how much you should be charging for it — even if you don’t.
MasterClass: Design Process
You can learn how other successful companies manage their design business, and you’ll go home with new ideas to exceed your clients’ expectations and boosting profits on every job. We’ll be holding our next class here in Baltimore, May 18-19. You can find more details and register here: Building An Effective Design Process.
If you’ve ever visited any Disney theme park across the globe, you may think nobody does customer service and experience like Disney. Although the execution is complex, the baseline concepts are quite simple.
In this episode, Pete Blank shares customer-service strategies from Disney with Victoria and Mark, and shows you how to apply these lessons to your remodeling company to boost your own team’s customer-service performance.
Pete has been developing leaders and improving service levels of organizations for the past 25 years — 13 of those with the Walt Disney Co. and the past 12 in local government. He loves inspiring others with ways to enhance their organizational culture. You can learn more about Pete Blank at his website: www.peteblank.com, or on his LinkedIn page.
Growing up near Disney World in Orlando, Pete says he knew he always wanted to work there. After a few years as a sportscaster in Alabama, Pete went to Florida and began working at Disney World. He and his wife and family moved back to Alabama and he got what he saw as a temporary job in local government, where he still uses those customer-service strategies. The biggest challenges to providing outstanding customer service and experiences are speed and expectations. Technology has changed the speed and convenience with which goods and services can be delivered. You have to align your clients’ expectations with what you can actually deliver. Pete talks about how you and your team can consistently offer the best service possible, including:
The difference between customer service and customer experience
How social media amplifies all experiences —good and bad
Making customer service part of you mission statement
Looking for what “above and beyond” looks like in the future
Making the experience consistent
How emotional connections create relationships
Bringing creativity to customer experiences
How to measure your customer-service success
The power of follow-up surveys
And more …
Pete says remodeling can emulate the magical experiences of Disney — your clients are choosing to transform their spaces, and helping them through that can be a transforming experience for their homes and their lives.