Business Owner

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.41: Using Virtual Reality to Grow Sales and Profits with Chris Katkish

Virtual reality creates immersive environments in real time. For remodelers, that means your clients could preview and even “walk-through” their projects to see if they like what they’re seeing. 

Guest Chris Katkish says VR can help remodelers streamline their sales and design process, trim the length of the sales cycle, and boost production efficiency by reducing change orders. All of which leads to more sales and more profit.

In this episode, Chris talks to Victoria and Mark about using VR technology to help clients confidently make decisions more quickly in the sales and design process.

Chris is the general manager of InSite Builders and Remodeling in Bethesda, MD. The three owners of InSite have partnered in a company called Limitless Virtual Reality, which enables CAD designs to be viewed in VR.

InSite uses VR as a visualization tool to get concepts across to homeowners. Even if you’re using 3D modeling, they’re still viewed in 2D, and seeing it on screen isn’t the same. VR immersion allows clients to experience the space and see what they’re buying before its built. Chris talks about the ways remodelers can use VR in their businesses, including:

  • When to bring VR into the sales process
  • Building in the charge for the VR design
  • How your 3D model becomes a VR environment
  • The equipment you’d need — and how much it may cost
  • Real-world examples of how VR speeds up client decisions
  • How to use it with Project Managers and Trade Partners
  • And more…

Victoria and Mark also spitball ways to use VR in your marketing. The pace of technology is fast — and VR is the newest tool on the scene. If you’ve got ideas or opinions on how VR may affect the remodeling business or your business, let us know in the comments below.
 

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Ep.39: How NOT to Grow Your Remodeling Business with Judith Miller

The Great Recession gobbled up a whole slew of remodeling companies, but more of them fail during an economic expansion than during a contraction. Growth is great, but it’s risky, and knowing how not to grow will put you ahead of the game.

In this hot market, there are so many opportunities, you can get ahead of yourself too quickly for the health of your company. And that’s where remodeling company owners get into trouble by growing the wrong way. There are potential downsides, and to avoid them, you have to keep you basic best practices — and customer satisfaction and net profits lie at the center, says Judith Miller.

In this episode, Judith joins Victoria and Mark to talk about the ways to grow your company the right way.

Judith has been a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage Roundtables for more than 15 years. She’s a QuickBooks expert, the author of The Remodeler’s Ultimate Guide to QuickBooks, and has been a columnist for Remodeling magazine for more than 10 years. Judith isn’t just a financial guru, she’s a high-level strategist who understands that numbers prove your strategy. She loves the challenge of helping good remodelers become better every day.

When trying to grow, the biggest stumbling block is a lack of control, preparation, and not focusing on the best practices. Judith tells you what those best practices are, and how to grow the right way, while explaining the details, including:

  • The critical need for leadership
  • Why your financials have to be in order
  • The Top 5 things you need to do to build a strong, profitable company
  • The predictable stages of growth — and which is best to grow in
  • How large you can get
  • Why hiring a sales force is the riskiest transition
  • How to build a company you can sell
  • Why growing over 20% may be crazy
  • And more…

You’ll also learn why “The Whale” projects takes too many remodelers down. Click here to go to the Growth Sustainability Calculator we discussed in the episode.

And if you need QuickBooks help, or want bring in Judith as a consultant for your business, you can email her at jfmiller@remodelservices.com.

 

Want More Ways to Improve Your Business in 2019 and Beyond?

We are excited to announce that we are re-launching and re-branding our annual January event, formerly known as the Master Your Remodeling Business Workshop. The Extreme Makeover: Business Edition Event has been re-tooled and re-focused on providing growing remodelers and renovators with the tools necessary to improve their businesses in 2019 and beyond.

In addition to Judith Miller, this 2-day event will feature well-known speakers such as Victoria Downing, Tim Faller and Mark Harari and bring in new faces like Doug Howard and the 2018 Fred Case Award Winner, Michael Sauri. For more information and to grab Super Early Bird discounts, CLICK HERE.

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.

Ep.37: The Art of Effective Communication with Paul Winans

Most work requires more than one person to get it done. Effective communication is essential to the enterprise. Everyone has to learn the skills to communicate effectively. One key is concentrating on what brings you success — in work, with your spouse or partner, and in the rest of your life. Build on that.

In this episode, Paul Winans joins Victoria and Mark to dive in to work on having effective arguments, resolving conflict, and working on listening.

Paul and his wife Nina owned a remodeling company for 30 years, living and working together, selling the company in 2007. Paul continues to work in the industry as a consultant, writer, and facilitator with R/A’s Roundtables.  As a facilitator, Paul works with our members to help them improve every aspect of their communication.

The biggest problem in effective communication happens when people just want to be heard, and don’t take on the responsibility to listen. For entrepreneurs, especially, It’s easy to say you have to listen, but you’ve built your business on others hearing you, and that habit is hard to break.

It takes a conscious and constant effort toward improvement. Paul gives examples and tips for improving your communication skills, including:

  • Focusing on understanding the other person
  • Using “I” language, not “you” language
  • Avoiding verbal attacks, even if they’re unintentional
  • Asking neutral questions
  • Establishing a foundation for decision making
  • Bridging the gap between communication styles and paces
  • How to tell if someone’s just visiting the conversation
  • Why meeting about nothing is good, actually
  • And so much more…

2019 Couples Retreat Workshop

This episode covers a lot of valuable ground, and you have an opportunity to go even deeper as it pertains to working with your spouse. As we mentioned in this episode, Paul and Nina will lead a Couples Retreat Workshop 2019 in Scottsdale, AZ, on February 7-8, 2019.

It’s an intimate group of 15 couples who will learn how to deal with conflict, argue effectively, and set goals for yourselves. The spots are going fast (a reservation was made during the podcast!), so act quickly to take advantage of this incredible resource. Register here!

 

Ep.35: Why You Should Have a Personal Vision Statement with Dave Bryan

A personal vision statement charts your course — in life and in business. If you don’t have one, you might as well be lost at sea when you’re making decisions.

For Dave Bryan, his personal vision statement serves as his North Star, allowing him to plot his course through his life. “There are a million ways in any given day to get knocked off course,” he says. “Everything you do should be in support of your life, and having a personal vision statement can help you stay on the path and keep on track.”

In this meaningful episode, Dave talks to Victoria and Mark about the genesis of the idea for him, how he did it, and gives tips for how you can write your own. Most importantly, he shares his reasons why you should.

Dave president of Blackdog Builders, with offices in Salem and Amherst, NH. After starting his business in 1989, he’s built Blackdog into a strong, consistently profitable business, with several diversifications under its umbrella. Dave is an entrepreneur who is known for the discipline and care with which he runs his company. Dave is also one of our popular Roundtables facilitators, where he shares his story with the groups.

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, with no one to keep you accountable. Planning your life and using a personal vision statement can help define your goals. Dave’s path to writing his own statement began with the recession in 2008. “It was brutal,” he says. But defining the goals and intentions for his life going forward was a turning point.

You’ll hear Dave’s personal vision statement and learn why he won’t share it in written form. But you have to do the work yourself for your own, he says. Dave covers how to develop your personal vision statement, and what it can do for your life and business, including:

  • Creating a vision board as a first step
  • Why work is only a tool to build your life
  • How far out to plan
  • Working gratitude into your plan
  • What you learn when you look back

With all of the planning and goal-setting you do for your business, you may still be spinning your wheels if you don’t create the personal plan that forms a strong foundation for what you do — and why.

You can learn more about Dave and Blackdog at the website.

 

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Ep.31: How to Successfully Use Cost-Plus Pricing with Josh Baker

The Cost-Plus Pricing model seems to go completely against common sense, but it’s a concept that we’re getting more questions about from our membership. One contributing factor is that consumers increasingly demand transparency when purchasing products and services — and homeowners are coming to expect it when undertaking a remodeling project. But so many remodelers don’t understand it. Can Cost Plus be your new pricing model?

Josh Baker, co-founder of BOWA Builders, has been using Cost-Plus Pricing for more than 20 years. In this episode, he talks to Victoria and Mark about its pros and cons, and why it’s a cornerstone of his company’s success.

Josh founded BOWA Builders in McLean, VA, with college friend Larry Weinberg in 1988, serving the Washington, DC, metro market. As the leader of BOWA’s sales and marketing team, Josh helped to quickly grow the company’s revenues from $250,000 to nearly $40 million in just 20 years. As chief revenue officer, Josh’s focus is on growth and managing an energetic, productive sales team. Recognized nationally as an expert in the industry, Josh is quoted regularly in publications, including The Washington Post, Better Homes & Gardens, and Remodeling, and is a frequent speaker at local and national industry meetings.

Cost-Plus Pricing can be a differentiator, but it can also frighten some remodeling business owners — as well as some clients. Josh explains how to present the concept to clients, and what it will take to implement it profitably, as well as:

  • What jobs are suited to the Cost-Plus Model
  • Weighing the risks and rewards
  • The necessity of pinpoint accuracy in estimating
  • Why not to apologize for your costs
  • The time it takes to do well
  • Why you need a sophisticated, expert sales staff to make it work
  • And a whole lot more…

Josh stresses that Cost-Plus Pricing isn’t for everyone, or for every job. Listening to this episode may help you decide if it’s the pricing model for you, or for some of your projects. Check out BOWA’s website for more about the company, and if you have questions about Cost-Plus Pricing, send Josh an email at josh@bowa.com.

 

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Ep.30: How to Create a Financial Plan with Sacha Millstone

Business plans, marketing plans, any plan serves as a map to a goal. Your financial plan is no different.

You need to set your goal, write it down, and commit to it. Our Roundtables members do this regularly for their businesses. But too many people get anxious when it comes to looking at their personal financial plans, says guest Sacha Millstone, a financial planner and wealth manager.

Sacha discusses how to get past the anxiety about your personal financial planning with Victoria and Mark in this episode.

Sacha started the The Millstone Evans Group in the Washington, DC, area in the late 1990s, and now has a team of 10, with offices in Washington, DC, Denver, CO, and Boulder, CO. She has helped hundreds of clients achieve their financial goals by creating a written plan and helping them put it into place.

When you’re running a small business, you can get so absorbed in your work financials that you avoid looking at your personal situation. But you have to, says Sacha. And while you can do a financial plan to get you to retirement, it’s difficult. There’s so much emotion around money that you may need someone to advise, coach, and hold you responsible.

There’s so much good advice in this episode! You’ll learn:

  • The magic of compound interest
  • Why not to use the word “budget”
  • Where your investments are — and what to add
  • Why insurance — especially for yourself — is so important
  • How to mitigate risk in your investments
  • What the Monte Carlo analysis is
  • And a whole lot more…

You’ll also hear why Victoria’s idea of summer fun for kids includes financial quizzes. This episode breaks down the importance of financial planning for remodeling business owners in ways that will make you think differently about the whole subject. It’s never too late to plan.

For more information about Sacha, her business, and how she can help, go to the Millstone Evans Group’s website. If you have questions, drop her an email at sacha.millstone@raymondjames.com or give her a call at (800) 201-4554.

Ep.29: How to Build an Award-Winning Company with Jeremy Martin

Success in the remodeling industry is all by the book for Jeremy Martin. That goes for the 50 books he reads per year, and the systems and business processes he institutes and uses at his company. And most importantly, those two factors culminate in “The Book” — the three-ring binder filled with details and documentation that has powered his company’s growth.

Jeremy talked with Victoria and Mark for our live podcast in June — and if you missed it, take this opportunity to catch up. You’ll hear insights and tactics you can put to work for your own company immediately.

A principal with RisherMartin in Austin, TX, Jeremy founded the company with partner Chris Risher. Jeremy graduated from the University of Texas with an engineering degree and went to work at Fortune 500 giants like IBM and Intel. Jeremy combined his corporate experience with his love of building and launched his home building career in 2001. He’s an RA Roundtables member, was recognized as a “Rising Star” by NAHB, and was in the “40 under 40” lists for Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler. With Chris, he was named the 2016 Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year, and was a finalist for the RA Impact Award.

Jeremy’s time with huge companies gives him a different perspective on the remodeling business, and he’s applied the lessons learned at businesses with 60,000 employees to his now 10-person company. “You have to think big to get big,” he says. “But don’t expect that growth to be linear.”

Learn how RisherMartin finds their ideal clients, gets an average of $1 million per job, and how they hire, along with:

  • Setting intentional time on the calendar for big picture thinking
  • Troubleshooting the most treacherous part of the remodeling business
  • The secret to a healthy business partnership
  • How to strive for continuous improvement
  • Selling the fixed-price model
  • And more…

You’ll also get to hear Mark admit his man-crush, and find out what Victoria’s theme song would be. You can learn more about RisherMartin on the company’s website, which devotes a page to The Book — that’s how important it is to their success.

In today’s episode, Victoria mentions a slide that was available during the Live Episode back in June, for those of you who are interested in learning more about Roundtables… Below is a copy of that slide, click to see a larger version.

Ep.28: The Dos and Don’ts of Implementing Technology with Donny Wyatt

Technology is critical to boosting efficiency and ensuring scalability for remodelers and builders, but tech isn’t the answer to everything. It’s hard to know where to start, and what problems tech can solve for you. Too often, you purchase an expensive program, people don’t use it, and it gets shelved.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark talk the dos and don’ts of tech with Donny Wyatt, the founder and CEO of CoConstruct, a web-based project management system for custom builders and remodelers.

Back in 2005, Donny was a homeowner who had a typical, but frustrating, building experience, and used that inspiration to create a web-based system to help custom builders and remodelers serve their clients better. Today, CoConstruct has been named the No. 1 software of its type by SoftwareAdvice and Finances online. Donny leads a team of nearly 100 employees serving 5,000 customers across North America and beyond.

The biggest key to successfully implementing a software solution is to start small, advises Donny, and pick one or two key problems to solve. Then use your sales skills to get buy-in from your team, concentrating on one or two key players — a driver and a curmudgeon. Donny tells you how to do that, as well as:

  • Figuring out what problems you need to solve
  • How to get past the human speedbumps
  • The positive side effects of the right software
  • Why a tech problem may really be a leadership problem
  • Using tech to make your clients’ experiences outstanding
  • When to keep going through a puddle
  • And a whole lot more…

This is lively episode packed with information you can use today. You can learn more about CoConstruct with just a click.

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