We’ve all had a gut instinct at one time or another. But do you trust your gut? Do you often rely on your intuition when making decisions? How do you know when you should follow your gut, even if the data suggests another approach?
In this episode, Victoria and Mark discuss what intuition is and how to know when you should follow your gut when making important decisions. The guidelines they discuss will help you understand more about decision making and how your brain creates the patterns that guide you.
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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:
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.
Most people would consider a company jumping from $1.5 million to $3 million in revenue a growing organization. However, when we look beyond gross sales, those numbers don’t necessarily mean it grew. It could even mean the company is less profitable — and ultimately less successful — than it was before.
Michael Hodgin says planning for, and implementing, tiered advances are a better strategy for deliberate, healthy growth.
In this episode, Michael discusses his tiered increase growth strategy with Victoria and Mark. For healthy growth, he says you have to set and meet certain goals for sales, job costs, systems and performance before taking the next step.
Michael is a general contractor and business consultant living in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. He started his first construction company as a one-man-show in 2000, eventually growing Coleman Creek Construction to include a successful team of 15. Michael joined Remodeler’s Advantage in 2016 in an effort to deliver the greatest possible value to his clients. Investing in the development of efficient systems for his own business inspired the creation of his consulting agency, Maestro’s Toolbox.
Micheal says that your company’s gross sales should bump up to the next milestone only once your teams have mastered sales, pre-construction, and production systems at their current revenue level. That puts a company in a stronger position to handle the inevitable increase in workload. He talks about how to accomplish healthy, tiered growth for you remodeling company, including:
The infrastructure milestones to hit
Taking deliberate steps
The importance of setting goals
Focusing on hitting those goals
Proving your success
Nailing down all your job costs
Building the foundation for growth
The metrics that tell you that you’re ready for the next step
Stepping away and delegating
And more …
Planning your growth, setting targets, and understanding why and how you hit them will spur the right kind of growth for you and your company.
As 2019 draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our more popular episodes, and this episode explains how LEAN principles really work in a remodeling company. Perfect for any company looking to improve their business in 2020.
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.
When PK Builders was experiencing growing pains in 2018 — bottlenecks in the design-build process, some cash-flow issues, higher overhead — Paul 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. Hear how they implemented LEAN, 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
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. See the video Paul talks about outlining LEAN principles from the Food Bank For New York City on YouTube.
And here’s that 16-ft. chart Paul talks about:
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As we wrap up 2019, we’re looking back at some of our more popular episodes and this one was a huge hit.
For our 50th episode in January, we gathered a panel of industry experts and took questions from the audience at the Extreme Business Makeover event. It capped off an intense two days of learning, sharing, and networking among the remodelers attending and our Remodelers Advantage team.
In this episode, Victoria and Mark directed the lively discussions with our panel. Panelists included:
Tim Faller, RA’s Senior Consultant and “Master of Production”
We covered profits and payroll, cash flow, the owner’s role in a growing business, margins, staying top-of-mind in your marketing, smart lead qualifying, planning and making decisions on your job sites, and the power of asking “why?”
It’s an insightful and all-encompassing discussion of how to run your business to get bigger margins, more profits, and creating a real life/work balance. If you missed it back in January, you need to listen to this episode.
And Don’t Miss THIS Year’s Extreme Business Makeover Event; New Content, Fresh Ideas
On January 28-29, 2020 we will gather once again at the BWI Westin and present 2 days of interactive presentations, breakouts and expert panels (like the one featured in today’s podcast). We have Super Early Bird pricing in place until 12/15/19 so Click here for more information and Register Today!
You may have thought that the design-build business model is a recent phenomenon. But years ago, all builders practiced design-build, but something happened along the way to create separate industries.
In this episode, David Supple takes Victoria and Mark on a deep dive into the history of the design-build model, the truths about it, and why it’s been around as long as buildings have.
David is the founder and CEO of New England Design & Construction in Boston. He’s grown NEDC to be a leader in design-build excellence, winning more than 30 awards and being written about in more than 30 publications over the past 14 years. In addition to expanding the company, David has started the DesignBuild Movement, a forum with the purpose of educating the public on this topic with the end goal of creating better buildings.
David has had a fascination with creating buildings since his art history teacher in high school showed the class slides of landmarks in Europe like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel. He decided he wanted to build those types of spaces, and was steered into architecture. He graduated from college with an architecture degree, and started practicing. Then, he says, he realized he didn’t know what he was doing. So he went to work as a carpenter to get a foundation in actual building before he opened NEDC. David talks about the history of architects and builders, and how the industry got to where we are now, including:
What an architect used to be
The historical apprenticeship process
How the industry separated into architects and builders
What social status had to do with it
Why design-build almost went away
The efficiencies of design-build as a process
How to position design-build with consumers
Design-build vs. design-bid-build
And more …
It’s a fascinating look at the history of building, architecture, and remodeling, and will make you better prepared to discuss what design build really means. To learn more about the DesignBuild Movement, check out the pages on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.