Business Management

Ep.62: [Unscripted Back-Up] Employment Law: The Good, Bad and Downright Scary, with Jen Cornell

We’re introducing a new feature — the 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.


In this episode, we revisit the good, bad, and downright scary elements hidden in employment law. If you’re like most business owners, you don’t think about employment law until you’re faced with a complaint or potential lawsuit from a current or former employee. It’s inevitable …  as you add employees and grow your company, the likelihood of facing a legal employment issue will increase as well.

When it comes to hiring, terminating, and disciplining members of your team, there’ s so much to know and keep track of. You not only have state or territory regulations, but federal as well.

Our guest this week will tell you that any time you run into a legal situation regarding an employee, the best course of action is to consult an expert — and that’s just what we did for Episode 11.

Guest Jen Cornell is an attorney who represents companies in litigation involving employees, including lawsuits, charges brought to government agencies, and investigations from government auditors.

Jen also specializes in preventive workplace audits and policy implementation, such as preparing employee handbooks, wage and hour audits, and immigration compliance.

Victoria, Mark and Jen uncovered so many different aspects of employment law in this episode, including:

  • Protecting your company from hourly disputes, lawsuits
  • Timeframes to consider (2-3 years of records), and penalties applied
  • Dealing with independent contractors transitioning to employees
  • How laws apply to locations (job-site, company location, and residency)
  • Payment of employees, pay periods, minimum wages
  • How to handle discrimination complaints from current or ex-employees
  • Responding to charges from government agencies and document storage
  • Handling terminations and disciplinary issues the proper way
  • Importance of Employee handbooks and policies in place

Don’t wait until you get that notice in the mail — listen to this episode and get familiar with some of the issues that may arise and derail the success you worked so hard for.

Ep.61: How I Revamped My Design Process with Chris Fox

Systems and processes rarely scale when your business grows. So you have to go back and create new ones that will — at least for now. Your design process is no different.

When hiring a new or additional designer, it may be time to revamp your process in preparation for that new team member.

In this episode, Chris Fox talks to Victoria and Mark about what he found when he dove deep into his company’s design process. He learned so much from his examination that he created a new self-guided training plan for designers that doesn’t require constant oversight and management by supervisors.

Chris is the founder of Fox Home Innovations in Manhattan, KS. Chris started this company during his junior year of college and ran multiple projects and crews while completing his degree in entrepreneurship from Kansas State University. In school, he met Matt Carlson, who later bought into the company. Today, they both run the organization with Chris focusing on sales and design, while Matt is the general manager.

The old design process was often on the fly and not totally repeatable at all times. They had nothing to train to or repeat when it came time to hire another designer. There was no time to train, either, because everyone was so busy. Chris details what they did and how they did it, including:

  • Evaluating the process you’ve got
  • Creating a trainable, repeatable process
  • Building in the details
  • How to create a training document
  • The time it takes, and why to take the time
  • Involving your whole team
  • The significant changes it made
  • What the onboarding and training looks like
  • Creating teachable moments
  • How to boost competence and confidence
  • And more …

The process is working well, so Chris plans to use it as a model for onboarding and training new hires for other roles throughout the organization as it grows.

Ep.60: How to Manage Your Online Reputation Using Google Reviews with Russell Fuller

Your reputation is your most valuable business asset — but don’t think for a minute that doing high-quality work and providing top-notch service is enough to make and keep it spotless. The Internet has made it all too easy for people to publicly tarnish your good name — quickly.

Take the initiative, and manage your reputation proactively. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark talk online reviews with Russell Fuller. Russell concentrates on the power of Google reviews, discusses how to get great ones, and what it all means to his business.

Russell owns Fuller Living Construction in Seattle, WA. He’s passionate about small business and marketing. Fuller Living Construction is Google’s highest-rated construction company in Seattle.

Russell starts laying the foundation for reviews during the Sales process, sends a mid-project survey to head off problems that may have cropped up, and systematically follows up after the job is finished to get consistent five-star Google reviews. He explains how he settled on Google, what it means to his business, and how he does it, including:

  • Getting your message out
  • How Yelp chooses to show reviews
  • Strategies to make it automatic and easy for clients to leave reviews
  • How to handle bad reviews online
  • The ripple effect of good and bad reviews
  • The power of a good lawyer
  • Speaking honestly with clients — and listening
  • Following up with past clients
  • Being specific in your review requests
  • The “review insurance account”
  • Soliciting reviews from Trade Partners and team members
  • Where reviews are going next
  • And more …

Building and managing your online reputation is more important than ever. Planting the seeds early for great reviews and making the most of them will lay the foundation for a successful business for years to come.

Ep.59: Empower Your Team to Help You Build a Great Business with Jason Blenker

If you’re going to build something — a building, a company, a team — you owe it to the world to build something great. Identify what makes you exceptional and empower your team to help you build a great business.

In this episode, Jason Blenker tells Victoria and Mark about how and why he put his organization on the path to greatness, how he defines the term, and inspiring your team to carry out that mission.

Jason is the president of Blenker Companies Inc., a Midwest provider of housing solutions designed to make the building process easier, faster, and better with one mission — to Build Something Great® — great buildings, great communities, great companies, great leaders, and great team members.

About five years ago, he set out to grow his business and build a leadership team around him to make it happen. Jason looked at what world-class companies do, reached out to mentors and coaches, and got to work. A great organization is one that people want to work with and for, and is active in the communities it serves, he says. Getting everyone on the same page is the first step, and he talks about how he did that, including:

  • Creating your roadmap
  • Planning for success
  • Communicating to get employee buy-in
  • Breaking down what it means to individuals
  • Evaluating who does what best and letting them
  • Overcoming the fear of change
  • The changes coming to the industry
  • Why profit isn’t the only driver for success
  • The time you need to take to work on the organization
  • How to let go and  trust others to make great decisions
  • Getting past analysis paralysis
  • And more …

Taking the time to invest in yourself may mean taking time away from working in your business, Jason says, but it’s the only way to propel your organization forward.

 

We are now on Spotify!

As you can see by the logo on the right, PowerTips Unscripted is now available on Spotify for those of you who might be using that app on your mobile device. Enjoy!
 
 

Ep.58: How LEAN Principles Have Improved My Business with Paul Kowalski

We’ve talked about LEAN before on the show with our own experts, but you may wonder what it looks like in the real world. Today we’ll hear about using LEAN in the remodeling business from an award-winning design-build company that focuses on residential remodeling.

In this episode, Paul Kowalski shares his experiences in applying LEAN in his business with Victoria and Mark. His company recently implemented the process, and he says the results have already been eye-opening.

Paul Kowalski is the owner of PK Builders in Charlotte, NC, and a member of our Remodelers Advantage Roundtables group. PK Builders has a team of eight, including Paul, with four Project Managers, an Estimator, and a Draftsman.

PK Builders was experiencing growing pains in 2018 — bottlenecks in the design-build process, some cash-flow issues, higher overhead, so they called in Doug Howard for help. Paul says it was intimidating at first, but soon becomes second nature to look for ways to speed up processes. It started with 16 feet of paper festooned with sticky notes detailing steps in the design process. They began by diving into the design process, and he discusses how they did it, including:

  • Explaining it to your staff
  • Sharing in chunks
  • Finding the hiccups
  • Why the people closest to the work have the best feedback
  • Getting over the intimidation factor
  • Timelines and swim lanes
  • Not including time for revisions
  • Building in collaboration up front
  • Unintended consequences
  • And more …

Paul and his team are deep in the LEAN process, and excited to see what their future brings, including how it affects their positive cash flow. They’ll be looking at the Production process as their experience with LEAN continues. We’ll check in with Paul on how it’s going in the future.

Here’s that 16-ft. piece of paper!

Getting LEAN

See the video Paul talks about outlining LEAN principles from the Food Bank For New York City on YouTube.

If you want to learn more about LEAN, and download the free process mapping tool, go to leanremodeling.com.

Ep.57: How to Capture Cost-Effective, Exclusive Leads by Blogging with Mike Foti

We’re big believers in the power of blogging to generate interest and business. Today we’re talking to someone in the trenches who’s also a believer, because it’s helped him in growing his business, gaining credibility, elevating customer loyalty, and  — most importantly — generating cost-effective, exclusive leads.

In this episode, Mike Foti discusses his business case for blogging with Victoria and Mark, and tells you how you can do the same.

Mike is president of Innovate Building Solutions of Cleveland, OH, a regional remodeling and nationwide wholesaler of grout-free shower and tub wall panels, wet room systems and glass floors, and also of Innovate Home Org, a designer and installer of custom home organization systems. In the eight years he’s been blogging on his News from the Block blog, it’s grown to 85,000 visitors per month and 19,000 email subscribers — and he has two other blogs. Mike is a self-described DMG (Digital Marketing Geek) and loves learning how to increase traffic and leads without forking over big bucks to “Mr. Google.” He’s also a crazy one-hour-a-day runner – even after suffering two heart attacks over the last two years. Finally, Mike is a reinvigorated Cleveland Browns fan and says (just like Baker Mayfield) he’s feeling a little dangerous today.

Mike started blogging after a digital marketing consultant told him how it would help his business, and he admits his first attempts weren’t so good. Mike shares his five reasons to blog, tips for finding the time to do it, and the benefits, including:

  • Avoiding pay-per-click costs
  • Why he doesn’t do Facebook ads
  • Becoming known as an expert and building a following
  • Why it works for project-based businesses
  • The importance of being consistent
  • Attracting tire-kickers and turning them into leads
  • The power of information, influence, and education
  • If you can’t write, finding someone who can
  • Giving yourself permission to not be very good at first
  • How to generate ideas — taking questions from your sales calls and answering them
  • Why the weirdest jobs make the best stories
  • Writing awesome headlines
  • Sharing who you are for a personal connection
  • How to entertain while educating
  • And more …

Including Mike and Mark talking the Odell Beckham trade, while Victoria stares at the ceiling. Also, for all those wondering, capers are flower buds that are pickled in brine. It’s a wide-ranging and high-energy conversation that will convince you to start blogging if you’re not doing it already — or make you better at it if you are.

Ep.56: The Secret to Successful Employee Reviews with Allison Iantosca

When it comes to performance reviews, the times, they are a-changin’. Though some managers and employees might still like a good old-fashioned numeric ranking, most prefer to take charge of their destinies — working with together to set goals and spur professional development.

Allison Iantosca talks to Victoria and Mark about why we all need performance reviews and using them to create an engaged and developmental relationship with your employees.

Allison is the second-generation owner of 40-year-old F.H. Perry Builder, a Boston-area custom remodeling firm focused on building homes and relationships of lasting value.

What happens on the inside of your organization reflects on what happens outside — with your clients and Trade Partners, says Alison. Taking care of your team’s experiences is a strategic step to making the client experience better. She leads you through the most important parts of a successful review process, including:

  • How often you should do reviews
  • Learning to love the process
  • Having the appreciation conversation first
  • Meeting people where they are
  • Making changes make sense to the employee
  • The power of open-ended questions on an evaluation form
  • Giving your team time to think about it all
  • Getting to the big picture
  • Handling the tough conversations
  • Tools that can help support your team’s growth
  • And so much more …

There can be so much anxiety and fear about performance reviews, but there doesn’t need to be. By presenting them as opportunities for growth and positive change, you can create a better culture and a stronger company.

Ep.55: Why and How to Start Your Own Podcast

In an extremely meta podcast today, we talk about podcasting — and the top reasons you should start your own. We were prompted by an email from a Roundtables member asking why and how to do it.

Podcasting is growing by leaps and bounds — 51% of the population has listened to a podcast. Of those listening, 45% are likely to have an income of $250,000 or more — the kind of affluent demographic you want.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark kick around the reasons you should start your own podcast, with some tips on how to get started.

First thing, don’t get swayed by the idea that a podcast is too global to target your own local area. You don’t even have to cover remodeling in your podcast, as long as it’s sponsored by your company. Other things to consider include:

  • Making the time commitment
  • Being consistent
  • Deciding on a format
  • Writing a script
  • Equipment, set-up, and the costs
  • Content creation and what to cover
  • How to target the right market for you
  • The value of an internal podcast for your employees
  • The launch and initial push
  • How prepare your guests and make them comfortable
  • And much more …

Including Mark springing the lightning round on Victoria (completely ignoring what he just said about preparing guests, but whatever). If you start a podcast, or are already doing one, let us know in the comments below!

Ep.53: Growing a Company from Stage 3 to Stage 4 with Jef Forward

There are five stages of company growth, according to Judith Miller, one of our consultants and facilitators. Transitioning from Stage 3 to Stage 4 is one of the more complex. It takes a substantial shift in the owner’s responsibilities and skill sets. It can result in a much higher job satisfaction level, financial return, and working much less.

In this episode, Jef Forward explains how he managed this tricky move to Victoria and Mark. It’s a process he planned and implemented over years, and it had challenges and surprises for everyone in the organization.

Jef is a co-owner with his wife, Monica, of Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor, MI. Jef has participated in Roundtables at Remodelers Advantage for many years, and is now a member of Mentor FOR. Over the last six years, they have had substantial growth in the business and increased customer satisfaction and net profits through a team approach.

Jef talks about how the process has worked for his company, and what it takes to get there. It demanded a great deal of self-reflection on his part, as he moved out of the role of doer to teacher and had to become a better leader. He talks about understanding your priorities and how they might shift, and getting buy-in from your team, including:

  • Your company culture
  • Working the plan
  • Getting accurate feedback
  • Letting people fail, and teaching from that
  • Becoming a proactive, not reactive company
  • Why it’s not all about you
  • And much more…

Regardless of the growth stage of your company, Jef’s got workable advice to make your business and life better and more rewarding.

Some Background Info

If you want to brush up on Judith Miller’s stages of growth as discussed in the episode, here’s the article.

For more explanation of the DISC profile and what it can do for your business, listen to Episode 45: Using Tools to Find the Best Talent with Rick Bowers.

Ep.52: Changing of the Guard: The Unfortunate Side Effect of Growth

Most entrepreneurs want to build a bigger company, but understand that many of their existing processes don’t scale. You go back to the drawing board and make some changes. But the sad truth is that it’s not just systems, but people, who fall behind, dragging the business with them.

In this episode, Mark’s flying solo, and tackling a subject too many business owners try to avoid. The sad side effect of growth is that some of your best, longest-lasting employees simply can’t keep up with the new demands of a larger business.

The first thing to do is recognize it. If they’re still doing a great job, but lack enough time, hire more help. But if the tasks and duties themselves are overwhelming, you need an action plan. Mark talks about what to look for and how to handle it, including:

  • The difference between generalists and specialists
  • Continuing education and coaching
  • How to present the problem
  • Finding a new role — or not
  • When to cut your losses
  • And more…

If you’ve run into this sticky situation, tell us about your experiences in the comments — what did you do?

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