company culture

Ep.77: Recession-Proofing Your Company with Dave Edwards

It’s easy to be successful in a great economy. You can get away with a lot of bad habits, lack of systems, and high overhead when jobs are large and margins high. But when the economy contracts, job sizes shrink, and margins erode, those bad habits can have a huge affect on the health of your company.

Focusing on the right things when times are good are key to recession-proofing your business.

In this episode, Dave Edwards talks to Victoria and Mark about the lessons he learned and the changes he made to create a healthy company following the last recession, and how that positions it to survive and even thrive in the next downturn.

Dave is the founder and president of Earth Bound Homes, a home-building and remodeling company in San Jose, CA. Before he joined Remodelers Advantage Roundtables in 2014, Dave spent 12 years learning all the different ways to not build and run a profitable construction company. 

His path to recession-proofing his company came after watching other remodelers and builders go out of business in the last recession. After his company almost went bankrupt in 2011, he joined Roundtables and also went to counseling. He talks about his path to success in business and in his personal life, and how he has built a company that can withstand an economic downturn, including:

  • Focusing on others’ happiness as the key to achievement
  • His metrics for success — it’s not all about money
  • Recognizing when someone else has better ideas, and running with them
  • The Stop/Start meeting to improve the company
  • How to bill like a lawyer
  • Making project management a source of income
  • Working with a tight subcontractor market who need extra management
  • Helping architects get their project packages together
  • Identifying bad habits and how to fix them
  • How unbilled labor can cut into your profits
  • Why he cut his field staff to boost his revenue
  • Getting the best people and keeping them happy
  • The power of diversity in company culture
  • And more …

Dave says the three big ways to ensuring your company’s survival are figuring out how to live on your salary as a business owner, banking your cash to be able to pay and retain your team during a downturn, and reducing your mark up to still be profitable.

Ep.73: A Leader’s Inactions Are Just as Important as Actions with Wayne Rivers

Victoria and Mark are just back from their own peer group meeting, and were inspired by what they learned. In particular, they were excited by something they heard from another member, Wayne Rivers.

Wayne has a video blog, and we’re picking up one of his episodes about leadership. He says leaders tolerate bad behaviors in their organizations too often, and it can cost you money and time. The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate. You may hear some things that hit home for you in his talk.

Wayne is the co-founder and president of The Family Business Institute Inc. He has authored four books on the subject of business families, the latest of which is Our Family Business Crisis and How It Make Us Stronger. Wayne has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BusinessWeek: WEEKEND, and on the Retirement Living Network.

Wayne gives examples of toxic employee behavior in his talk today, and tells you how you can curb them, including:

  • The reasons you keep bad employees
  • Why you need to have performance reviews
  • The definition of stewardship
  • Why you need to have a recruiting system
  • Developing your spine
  • The benefits of outside support for leaders
  • The improve or remove system
  • And more …

You, as a leader, have to find the bad behaviors you’re tolerating, and figure out what to do about them to keep your company healthy. For more of Wayne’s videos, go the The Family Business Institute’s YouTube channel.

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.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.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.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.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.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.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.

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