Human Resources

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.54: Solving the Labor Shortage with Paul Eldrenkamp

Regional remodeling companies are desperate for more good labor. Regional carpentry programs are constantly on the lookout for good jobs for their students. How do you bring these groups together effectively?

In this episode, Paul Eldrenkamp talks to Victoria and Mark about the program he and his local NARI chapter have developed to bring students and remodeling companies together,  and what you can do in your area.

Paul works for Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling firm based in Newton, MA. He’s working closely with his NARI chapter to build better connections to carpentry students and teachers at local high schools and vocational schools.

His first outreach experience stemmed from a talk he did at a Boston-area high school about green building practices. The school reached out for help in preparing their students who weren’t going to college to enter the workforce with those building skills.

It grew from there. At first, Paul tried building an outreach program through the company, but it was overwhelming their resources. Working through other NARI with other interested member companies, a workforce committee was born. He talks about how they did it, and the benefits, including:

  • How to find people in the school systems and state agencies to help
  • Creating internship programs
  • The big hurdles, and how to get over them
  • Coaching kids toward lifelong success
  • The benefits to your own team
  • Budgeting internship hours
  • Identifying good candidates
  • Increasing diversity
  • The responsibilities of the industry
  • And more…

The future for the Boston program is bright, filling open jobs with candidates who might not be seen otherwise. If you’d like to reach out to Paul about your initiative or for help starting a program near you, send him an email at paul@byggmeister.com.

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?

Ep.50: LIVE from the Extreme Business Makeover in Baltimore

For our 50th episode, we gathered a panel of industry experts and took questions from the audience at the Extreme Business Makeover in Baltimore at the the end of January 2019. 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 direct the lively discussions with our panel. We were joined by:

We talk 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, you need to listen to this episode.

 

Ep.46: Onboarding the Most Vital Roles in Your Company with Jackie Shaw

Your accounting is a vital part of your business. You’ve spent valuable time hiring a new accounting staff member. Now what? Too often, owners think the new hire will be able to sit down and get to work with no introduction to processes and policies of the business. This can be a costly mistake.

Accounting is the story of your business in numbers, Jackie Shaw tells Victoria and Mark in this episode. Properly onboarding a new accountant or bookkeeper will keep that story from becoming a tragedy.

Jackie, the founder of Get Organized! LLC, is one of the QuickBooks gurus who support our members — and they love her. She gets paid to clean up a lot of accounting disasters and has seen first-hand how quickly a new bookkeeper can destroy your books. She’s here to help you get the right systems in place so you don’t have to pay anyone to clean up after a bookkeeping hire goes wrong.

“A bookkeeper can kill a database in a week,” she warns. That’s why, Jackie says, when onboarding new hires, they must do everything the same way they were done before, and they need to study prior entries to figure that out. And you have to forbid them from making changes for at least a month. Other things you should keep in mind when onboarding and working with a new hire include:

  • Not making assumptions
  • Experience doesn’t mean competence
  • Why you don’t want your bookkeeper to take ownership of the books
  • The importance of financial SOPs
  • Why accounting can be like an archeological dig
  • And more…

Including the methods you can use to safeguard your company against embezzling. If you thought talking about accounting was going to be dry and boring, then you have to listen to this episode — it’s lively!

Ep.45: Using Tools to Find the Best Talent with Rick Bowers

You know all about the labor shortage, you’re living with it every day. But there are tools that can help you find the right person for the right job — and help you keep them in your company.

Remodelers Advantage has been using a personality assessment tool called DISC for years, and we love it. Everyone on our team completes a DISC assessment, as do all of our Roundtables members— who also rely on them in their own businesses.

In this episode, Rick Bowers of TTI Success Insights, the maker of the DISC test, drops by to talk to Victoria and Mark about how and why to use personality assessment tools in your organization.

Rick’s the president of TTI Success Insights, and the keynote speaker at its show TTISCON. Rick has more than 30 years of experience with talent management tools and has trained people to use effective talent management techniques in more than 30 countries on six continents.

For those who don’t know, or could use a refresher, the DISC profile breaks down personality into four buckets, to see which are more pronounced in each individual:

  • Dominance: The take-charge type
  • Influencing: Outgoing and fast-paced
  • Steadiness: Consistent and methodical
  • Compliance: Follows the rules

There are unlimited combinations, because everyone’s an individual, but taken all together, a person’s DISC profile shows why people do what they do, and how best to communicate and motivate them, says Rick. He takes a deep dive into how the DISC and other tools can help managers and employees, including:

  • The 12 driving forces that motivate
  • Letting the job talk
  • Using the right words for each personality
  • Making space for individuality
  • Building an effective team
  • Importance of debriefing process after hiring
  • Why the DISC can’t be used to excuse a bad behavior
  • Why you’ll only go against the assessment once in hiring
  • And a lot more…

In the remodeling business, it’s especially important to hire the right person for the job, and the team — the wrong hire can mess up your company for years. These types of assessment tools can help you make better decisions, and aid you in understanding how to manage and communicate. How do you use your DISC assessments? Let us know in the comments below.

Ep.44: Building a Remodeling Sales Team with Andy Wells

Most remodelers start as the sole salesperson for their companies. Stepping out of that role is arguably one of the hardest things you can do — but you have to if you’re going to grow your company. Hiring, training, and managing a sales team is a challenge.

Normandy Design Build Remodeling has a sales staff of 22, and all have design or architecture backgrounds. This is more important to the company than having pure sales experience.

In this episode, Andy Wells talks to Victoria and Mark about hiring and training superstars at Normandy, where he’s the president and owner. Normandy has been in business for 40 years and does additions, kitchens, and whole-house remodeling throughout the Chicagoland area. Andy has been with Normandy for 21 years.

Expanding and growing your company takes sales, and more sales, says Andy. His newer salespeople are selling $600,000 per year; some with more experience are doing $2 million, topping out at around $4 million sold by one salesperson. Andy talks about hiring and training the Normandy way, with information you can use to build your own sales staff, including:

  • Why passion is the most important thing
  • How to be a Sherpa for your clients
  • The importance of being nimble
  • Clicking with the customer
  • Training in the culture
  • The value of ride-alongs for sales
  • Scaling the commissions and compensation
  • Moving from salary to commission
  • Meetings — what to cover and how often to hold them
  • Why sales managers can’t do all their own selling
  • And more…

So much more, in fact, that we ran out of time. Since we didn’t even get to the management part, we’ll be bringing Andy back soon!

Tell us about your experiences with hiring and training a sales staff in the comments.

Ep.42: How and When To Hire a General Manager with Aaron Enfinger

As companies experience growth, there are tipping points where changes need to be made. One of those points is when you realize you need additional management for the organization. Many remodelers are considering adding a General Manager, but are unsure how it will work in practice.

The Cleary Company of Columbus, OH, reached this tipping point in the Development Department in the Fall of 2016. The company was changing rapidly, adding staff, and stressing the existing systems in place. Things were getting bogged down. Owner George Cleary promoted Aaron Enfinger from Production Manager to GM to step in the gap. He’s currently wearing both hats while searching for his successor as PM.

In this episode, Aaron talks to Victoria and Mark about his experiences in taking over his new role and what it’s meant for the company. While Aaron oversees the operations, George has more time for business development and long-term planning.

The decision to add an overlay of management was caused by three factors, says Aaron. The staff was stressed by the workload, they were having trouble getting projects through the different phases of the job, and steps were being skipped in previously reliable systems because of the rush to get jobs to production. He talks about what his job entails, and some of the challenges, including:

  • Keeping the owner in the mix
  • How to not overload a GM
  • Managing people outside of your own job experience, like designers or marketers
  • Creating new positions to help streamline processes
  • Why to hire from within (if you can)
  • Working with the owner (or CEO)
  • The benefits of a walking meeting
  • Small picture vs. big picture thinking
  • And more…

As promised in the podcast, here’s the link to Aaron’s appearance on The Tim Faller Show, where he outlined his approach to creating a master schedule to control the flow of jobs through the pipeline.

Extreme Makeover: Business Edition

As Mark and Victoria mentioned in this episode, the Extreme Makeover: Business Edition, Jan. 29-30, 2019, is filling up fast — and Super Early Bird Pricing ends this Friday, November 30th.
Click Here for More Information & Registration 

 

Ep.38: Learning from the Trucking Industry To Solve Your Labor Shortage with Natalie Putnam

So many remodelers can’t reach their production potential because of the labor shortage. With the unemployment rate at a 20-year low, the struggle to find and retain good people is curbing business growth for small-business owners, across industries.

In this episode, Natalie Putnam tells Victoria and Mark about the hiring and retention strategies that have worked for her company in the trucking space, another industry struggling to find great people.

Natalie’s the chief commercial officer at Verst Logistics in Walton, KY. She’s a an industry expert, with 35 years of experience in supply chain, logistics, and trucking. Verst is growing at 24% a year, so Natalie regularly recruits employees and drivers for warehousing, fulfillment, and truck driving — in an area dominated by Amazon, FedEx, and DHL.

While wages play a significant role in recruiting and retention, it’s not the only lever you have, Natalie says. Your company culture can be a bigger factor in making employees accept your job offer. She shares other tactics that have worked for her in hiring and retaining good employees in a highly competitive market, including:

  • Expanding your target market — especially toward women
  • Using marketing for recruiting
  • The power of listening
  • Relaxing your requirements — how and why
  • Creating a Mentorship program
  • Why respect goes farther than cash
  • Job-site recruiting
  • The rise of robots
  • And much more…

Finding good people to work for you is a struggle. But taking some tips from another industry can help you prosper.

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