Business Owner

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.49: How, Who, and Why to Build a Leadership Team with Steve Barkhouse

You’re not running a successful company unless you have a good work/life balance. But there’s only one way to sustainably grow your company without sacrificing your life, and that’s by having a strong leadership team.

Steve Barkhouse stops by to give Victoria and Mark a crash course in how and why you should have a leadership team — and who should be on it.

Steve is the president and co-owner of Amsted Design-Build in Ottawa, ON. Steve has a well-deserved reputation as a thoughtful, logical, and caring business owner. Steve founded the company in 1989, and it now produces  over $10 million annually. He’s a long-time member of our top-performing Roundtables group, and the recipient of the 2018 Remodelers Advantage Impact Award.

Steve and his co-owner decided to start a leadership team at their owners retreat about a year ago. They researched the different models, and picked the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Steve talks about why EOS was the right fit for Amsted, and also about the other systems they didn’t pick. He details their process, including:

  • The differences between a leadership team and a management team
  • The importance of having a facilitator
  • How they picked their leadership team and got lucky
  • The six benefits of a leadership team
  • How often they meet
  • Who runs the meetings
  • What the agenda is
  • And a whole lot more…

Forming the leadership team was the best decision he ever made. “Outside of joining Remodelers Advantage, of course,” he says.

Ep.48: How to Hit Healthy Net Profits in any Economic Climate with Mike Medford Sr.

One of our core principles is that remodeling companies should make a good net profit, after paying the owners an above-average salary. When the economy’s booming, you can get away with a lot and still hit those goals, sometimes by accident. But the goal is to get those healthy net profits consistently, year after year, even in a downturn.

In this episode, Mike Medford Sr. talks to Victoria and Mark about how to do just that. Before seeing the metrics of the Top Ten Roundtables members a few years ago, Mike says his financials were always in flux. But then he took those figures and made them hard targets.

Mike Medford Sr. has been a home remodeling contractor for over 40 years. In 2007, he partnered with his son, Mike Jr. to form what is now Medford Design Build, with offices in Colleyville and Arlington, TX. Mike Sr. is the president of Medford Design Build.

Mike challenged himself and his team to hit the new fixed targets. He refined their processes, and challenged his team to hit those targets. By the next quarterly meeting, the company’s profits were rising. He talks about how he and his team made it happen, including:

  • Creating a profit-centric culture
  • How net profits will help you beat the labor shortage
  • Focusing your staff on gross profit
  • The importance of open books to the process
  • Setting up a bonus structure
  • Building time in to plan
  • And more…

Mike also talks about getting back to the art of contracting and how important that is to your margins.

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.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.
 

Are You a PowerTips Unscripted SuperFan Yet?

We are receiving great feedback from our listeners and we have more great episodes like this one coming. If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word by rating our show and commenting on iTunes, Stitcher, or whichever platform you use!

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!

 

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