Business Owner

Ep.75: Cash Flow: The Silent Killer

It’s incredibly busy in the remodeling world at the moment — leads are pouring in, proposals are flying out, and jobs are being scheduled like crazy. We’re seeing businesses with 30 percent growth, year over year.

Yet there’s a silent killer lurking beneath all the fevered growth: insufficient cash flow.

In this episode, Mark’s flying solo and he tackles the phenomenon of “growing broke” — being busier than ever, but running out of cash.

It can happen to the best, most experienced remodelers — times are almost too good, and it’s easy to lose track of your cash flow. Mark shares why you need to control it, and what to do if cash is starting to run out, including:

  • How to assess your cash flow situation
  • Why cash flow is king
  • Long-term planning strategies
  • What to do when you start feeling the pinch
  • How to address a problem if you’ve got one
  • Keeping your customer experience safe
  • And more …

If you’re concerned about where your cash situation is, set a calendar alert for the all-new RA University, launching Monday, Aug. 12 (the link is still to the older site). You’ll find five new lessons — and one of them is The Importance of Cash Flow. You’ll also find the The 5 Things to Never Do & The 5 Things to Always Do, Running a Paperless Office, Marketing that Works, and Setting Goals and Hitting Them. If you want to go even deeper and you can always reach out to us to help you find the solutions to your cash flow issues.

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.68: Managing Your Sales while Wearing Many Hats with Chip Doyle

Most remodelers wear many hats, and sales management is only one of them. So you have to handle sales functions on a part-time basis. As you grow and add salespeople, overseeing that department becomes yet another job duty.

In this episode, Chip Doyle discusses how to successfully manage the sales department on a part-time basis with Victoria and Mark.

Chip wrote the book Selling to Homeowners — The Sandler Way. He trains many R/A members, including owners, salespeople, designers and project managers how to sell — without sounding like salespeople.

Being a good sales manager takes a different skill set than being a salesperson does. You need to be patient, predictable in your coaching, and temper your expectations for their own lead generation. Chip says he’s seeing a higher success rate with developing salespeople from within remodeling companies, rather than hiring from outside — people who are good at selling are already busy and making great money. But wherever your find your new sales staff, Chip talks about ways to set them — and your company — up for success, including:

  • When to hire a new salesperson
  • Performing a sales assessment
  • What they should sell first
  • Why prospecting is crucial
  • Why they should under-qualify leads
  • How many meetings to have and when
  • The questions to ask your sales staff
  • How to help your salespeople
  • Why truthfulness is mandatory
  • How much time to spend on sales management
  • And more …

Including why just selling the next step — not the whole project at once — is the key to good sales.

Get The Edge You Need

If you’d like to help brushing up your — or your staff’s — sales techniques, Chip runs a weekly training session called Sales Edge. It brings together a group of non-competing R/A members to sharpen their approach to this vitally important business function. Find out more today.

Ep.67: Kicking Off Slippage Awareness Month with Tim Faller

Here at Remodelers Advantage we set aside the month of June to focus on an issue that plagues most service-based businesses, but can be a critical metric in looking at the success of a remodeling firm. This is our third annyal “Slippage Awareness Month” and this year you’ll see content submissions from our consulting, sales, and production experts here at R/A. Enjoy!

Every remodeling business owner wants to add more money to the bottom line. Reducing slippage is the lowest-hanging fruit to pick in your quest.

In this episode, Tim Faller talks to Victoria and Mark about reducing slippage in your remodeling company. Slippage occurs when your estimate is lower than the real costs of the job. Reducing it takes a change in mindset throughout the organization.

For 17 years, Tim has worked with hundreds of remodeling companies to improve profits by creating smooth, efficient production systems. As a Senior Consultant and Master of Production for Remodelers Advantage, Tim’s field and business ownership experience is vital to his additional role as facilitator for Owner and Production Manager Roundtables Groups. He’s also  a published author and popular industry speaker, Tim is co-host of The Tim Faller Show, a weekly podcast focused on “Improving The Bottom Line Through Production Training.”

The biggest challenge in reducing slippage is getting your whole team involved in the effort. Tim says slippage is too often brushed off with “It is what it is.”  That’s where the change in mindset comes in — the attitude should be “It is what we make it.” Slippage is controllable, but it takes a company-wide awareness and work to corral it through realistic and accurate estimating,  job scheduling, and building in time to de-bug a job before it starts. He talks about the ways to reduce slippage in your processes, including:

  • Finding the slippage
  • The perfect planning process
  • Building in time, and how much
  • Developing a critical eye, not a critical attitude
  • Why realistic estimating geared to your team is key
  • Why you need long-term, short-range, and daily planning
  • Killing schedule creep for better net profit
  • Building extra time into the schedule
  • Figuring out days-per-job overhead
  • Controlling the client
  • Doing change orders properly
  • And more …

Cutting slippage is possible — and will make a big difference in the health of your business.

 

Ep.66: How to Get Employees to Think and Act Like Owners with Steve Wheeler

If everyone in your remodeling business feels like they’re invested in your company — so invested that they think and act like owners — they’ll make better decisions, solve more problems, and make it more profitable.

But how do you get there?

In this episode, our own Steve Wheeler talks to Victoria and Mark about how to get your employees to think and act like owners. It’s a process he started when he had his own remodeling business for 12 years, and then he dove deeper into the subject through his work with R/A.

As director of business development for Remodelers Advantage, Steve is responsible for new membership sales and helping business owners find the program or product that will help them reach their financial and personal goals. In addition to leading business development for R/A, Steve is co-host of The Tim Faller Show, a weekly podcast focused on improving the bottom line through production training.

Getting employees to think and act like owners is one of the biggest challenges for our Roundtables members, and for every remodeler we talk to. Steve developed his approach by trying to get his team to care about his company as much as he did, based on the cycle of accountability and the TOADS steps developed by Linda Galindo in The Accountability Experience. There are actions that can cause real change. He talks about the keys to the process, how to get there, and the benefits, including:

  • The power of delegation
  • Reducing owner stress
  • Transforming through transparency
  • Getting beyond the to-do list to higher thinking
  • Talking about the big picture
  • Enabling decision-making power
  • Thinking of employees as renters or owners
  • Allowing employees to fail
  • And more …

Including the Clear Agreement Form we promised. And the story of how one of Steve’s projects turned a duplex into a single family home (it was supposed to stay a duplex).

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.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.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.51: Deploying the Elam Ending in Your Business

We’re getting esoteric today — applying a sports concept to business. Not too long ago, Mark read an article and shared it with Victoria about fixing something that’s broken in basketball — the intentional fouls at the end of the game to stop the clock.

Nick Elam is a Mensa member and basketball superfan, who was frustrated by the stop-and-start slog the end of close games as the team behind tried to get ahead by stopping the clock in the final minutes.

In his Elam Ending, the game clock is turned off at the first whistle with four minutes or fewer remaining. The teams then play to a target score equal to the leading team’s score plus seven points. The first team to meet or exceed the target score wins. It effectively stops the need to intentionally foul.

So what does all this have to do with the remodeling business? Fair question.

You may need to change your rules, you may need to change your strategy. When the rules that make your business work start hindering it, what do you do?

Look at the frustration points and think creatively to figure out whether your rules need to change. Maybe your change order process works perfectly until the final weeks of the job, and then it all goes sideways. Think about changing the rules of the game for those changing circumstances.

Let us know what rules or processes you’ve changed or amended through creative thinking. Let us know in the comments. No harm, no foul. See more about the Elam Ending in Sports Illustrated, and here’s a link to The Basketball Tournament’s wiki and how it has implemented it.

Will You Be at KBIS or NAHB’s International Building Show?

Victoria, Mark, and Steve Wheeler, RA sales director, are on the speaker’s panel at KBIS.

Victoria’s sessions:

The Most Important Numbers You Must Know!

  • Room N226
  • Session Number 2.2
  • Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019
  • 10:30 – 11:30 am

How Do You Compare? Performance Metrics of the High Performers

  • Room N226
  • Session Number 5.5
  • Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019
  • 9 – 10 pm

Steve Wheeler’s session:

Delegation — How to Get Your Employees to Think and Act Like an Owner!

  • Room N230
  • Session Number 8.7
  • Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019
  • 3 – 4 pm

Mark’s session:

Website Punchlist! Blue Tape Walkthroughs of Attendee Websites

  • Room: N227
  • Session Number 8.4
  • Wednesday, Feb.y 20, 2019
  • 3 – 4 pm

If you’re going to attend, and want Mark to dissect your site, just send him an email!

We’re also having an informal meet-up on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 5 pm. Meet us in the bar at the Hard Rock Hotel — we’d love to see you. Drop us a line about that or any other times you might like to chat: Victoria@RemodelersAdvantage.com or Mark@RemodelersAdvantage.com.

 

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