Human Resources

Ep.103: Positive Growth in Difficult Situations with Kathy O’Brien

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: 

Ep.102: Developing a Sustainable Niche to Support Your Passion with Wright Marshall

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.

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Ep.100: The Drivers that Make for a Successful Exit with John Warrillow

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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Ep.99: Adapting and Leading Through a Health Crisis with Jef and Monica Forward

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.

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Ep.96: Tiered Growth: Understanding Metrics and Recognizing Signs to Set Profitable Sales Goals with Michael Hodgin

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
  • Managing slippage
  • 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.

Ep.92: The Dangers of Burnout and How To Promote Individual Resiliency with Marian Faller

No matter how well your remodeling company is doing, how well organized you are, life can get hectic at times. You work through it all, but this can leave you vulnerable to burnout. Which can lead to an avalanche of problems.

In this episode, Marian Faller discusses burnout with Victoria and Mark, sharing its causes, the signs to look for in yourself and others, and how you can promote resiliency within your company. 

Marian is a psychotherapist, and owns Cornerstone Consulting and Cornerstone Counseling in Westerly, RI. She also serves as a consultant for individuals, families, and companies wanting to address mental health concerns. She also happens to be married to our own Tim Faller.

Burnout happens gradually, says Marian, and so gradually that you may not notice it until it’s too late. People experiencing burnout can be irritable, miss days of work, and can even get to the point of clinical depression. Burnout can affect individuals as well as entire organizations. Marian talks about what to know to keep yourself and your employees mentally healthy, including:

  • The signs and symptoms of burnout
  • How physical health can cause burnout
  • How burnout can spread from one individual
  • Why ignoring the causes of burnout won’t make it go away
  • The genetic and chemical components of mental health
  • What folic acid has to do with it
  • Promoting resilience in yourself and others
  • Focusing on what went right vs. what went wrong
  • What we can learn from Winnie the Pooh and Cleopatra
  • Modeling good habits and behaviors
  • Setting the right tone
  • Using hardships to promote resiliency
  • And more …

Knowing the signs and symptoms of burnout — and how to help yourself and others through it — can make a big difference in your own happiness and your team’s job satisfaction.

EP.91: [Unscripted Back-up] Expert Panel at Extreme Business Makeover Shares Insight

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:

  • Michael Sauri of TriVistaUSA Design + Build and the 2018 winner of the Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
  • Doug Howard, RA’s CFO and Director of Consulting Services, a.k.a. “The Fixer”
  • Judith Miller, Financial and QuickBooks “Guru”
  • 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!

Ep.89: Focusing on Clarity in Communication with Jeremy Steinruck

We’re under an almost-constant barrage of information from every angle. As leaders in our business, it’s imperative that our messages are clearly understood. But it’s equally important, if not more so, that we get messages clearly. 

Looking ahead to 2020, Jeremy Steinruck is focusing on clarity in communication and cutting through the white noise.  

In this episode, Jeremy discusses how to make your communication skills better with Victoria and Mark, what it will take, and how it will help your business and your life.

Jeremy is co-owner and vice president of Axis Construction in Wichita Falls, TX, a company he and partner Jeff Miller started 13 years ago. Jeremy holds a master’s degree in human resource management, but he is most thankful for the influence of incredible mentors and friends who have shared their wisdom freely. 

Learning to be a better communicator is possible, even if it’s not in your native skillset. Jeremy says the first part, for him, was getting rid of his “head trash.” He had to get rid of limiting beliefs, only hang on to ideas that could be proven true, eliminate his assumptions of what someone else believes, and not let any of those things influence his decisions. He talks about how to get past that, and boost your communication and listening skills, including:

  • The basic rules of engagement
  • Facing fears
  • Placing yourself in someone else’s comfort zone
  • How to plan your conversations
  • Understanding you can’t convince someone else
  • Asking questions to get to others’ needs
  • Setting goals at the beginning of the conversation
  • Communicating with intent
  • The four things to do before having a tough conversation
  • And more …

Two of the biggest barriers to effective communication are distraction and selfishness, and Jeremy says that recentering and concentrating on your core values will help you get over them.

Ep.88: All Help Is the Same, Isn’t it? with Allison Iantosca

As a seasoned business professional, you’ve probably been on both sides of the equation when it comes to giving and getting help. Get advice, give consultation. Gain a mentor, bestow some wisdom. While in these essential moments, we want to help and be helped, that doesn’t always happen. 

It helps to know there are differences in the types of support we can give and get — and what they are. 

In this episode, Allison Iantosca will discuss those distinctions with Victoria and Mark, and how stopping and thinking about how you ask for or give help will make the results more useful and valuable.

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

Though there are nuanced distinctions, coaching, consulting, and mentoring are not the same thing, says Allison. Knowing the differences will make the help given or gotten more relevant and valuable. Figuring it out includes knowing what you want to offer or receive in that moment, including:

  • Who needs what, and when
  • Concentrating on process in coaching
  • Consulting and advising on outcomes
  • Using experience in mentoring for a shared outcome
  • Coaching your staff
  • How to know what help to ask for
  • The time periods needed for each
  • Asking the right questions to spur the right answers
  • And more …

One of the best ways to differentiate between the three main types of help you can give or get is to determine the goal, and what choices need to be made to get there.

And Speaking of Consulting & Coaching …

As we head into 2020, there is no better time than RIGHT NOW to be planning for how your company will hit the profit goals that you have committed to… What? You have no Goals? No Plan? Well, we will help you with that too!

Join us on Tuesday, November 19th as our CFO & Director of Consulting, Doug Howard, hosts a FREE Webinar and walks you through the key steps to Creating Your Wining Strategy for 2020.

Click Here for More Information and to grab your spot.

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.  

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