Human Resources

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.

Ep.78: The Most Powerful Competitive Advantage with Steve Anderson

In a low-unemployment economy, recruiting and retaining the best talent is a continuous effort. You need a powerful competitive advantage — one that’s nearly impossible for anyone else to copy. 

It’s your company culture.

In this episode, Steve Anderson tells Victoria and Mark why that is, and how you can develop a successful culture — or turn around a faltering one. 

Steve’s an author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He’s worked with tens of thousands of professionals to grow and expand their businesses. Steve has spoken at our Remodeler’s Summit and worked with our Roundtables members in the past.

Your company culture is a combination of priorities and processes, and how your team acts on them, that results in how people feel about your company, inside and out. It can happen by default or by definition, but almost all successful cultures happen by design. He tells you how to look at your culture critically, and the steps to take to improve it, including:

  • Building on natural laws 
  • Defining your priorities
  • Designing your culture intentionally
  • The law of emotion
  • What the 10 Commandments can teach you about changing your culture
  • Defining your culture in a written document
  • Setting expectations
  • Reinforcing acceptable behavior
  • Why the customer shouldn’t come first
  • Using your culture in recruiting and hiring
  • The culture mistakes you may be making
  • And more …

There’s a copy of Steve’s first written culture guide in his book, The Culture of Success: 10 Natural Laws for Creating a Place Where Everyone Wants to Work. He invites everyone to use that culture guide to create your own — just click the link and make your purchase.

Ep.77: Recession-Proofing Your Company with Dave Edwards

It’s easy to be successful in a great economy. You can get away with a lot of bad habits, lack of systems, and high overhead when jobs are large and margins high. But when the economy contracts, job sizes shrink, and margins erode, those bad habits can have a huge affect on the health of your company.

Focusing on the right things when times are good are key to recession-proofing your business.

In this episode, Dave Edwards talks to Victoria and Mark about the lessons he learned and the changes he made to create a healthy company following the last recession, and how that positions it to survive and even thrive in the next downturn.

Dave is the founder and president of Earth Bound Homes, a home-building and remodeling company in San Jose, CA. Before he joined Remodelers Advantage Roundtables in 2014, Dave spent 12 years learning all the different ways to not build and run a profitable construction company. 

His path to recession-proofing his company came after watching other remodelers and builders go out of business in the last recession. After his company almost went bankrupt in 2011, he joined Roundtables and also went to counseling. He talks about his path to success in business and in his personal life, and how he has built a company that can withstand an economic downturn, including:

  • Focusing on others’ happiness as the key to achievement
  • His metrics for success — it’s not all about money
  • Recognizing when someone else has better ideas, and running with them
  • The Stop/Start meeting to improve the company
  • How to bill like a lawyer
  • Making project management a source of income
  • Working with a tight subcontractor market who need extra management
  • Helping architects get their project packages together
  • Identifying bad habits and how to fix them
  • How unbilled labor can cut into your profits
  • Why he cut his field staff to boost his revenue
  • Getting the best people and keeping them happy
  • The power of diversity in company culture
  • And more …

Dave says the three big ways to ensuring your company’s survival are figuring out how to live on your salary as a business owner, banking your cash to be able to pay and retain your team during a downturn, and reducing your mark up to still be profitable.

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.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.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!
 
 

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