company culture

Ep.99: Adapting and Leading Through a Health Crisis with Jef and Monica Forward

Being able to adapt and lead through a crisis — personal or business — is a critical skill for any business owner. 

After their best year ever in 2018, Jef and Monica Forward were gearing up for an even stronger 2019. Everything was on course until two key players were diagnosed with cancer. One of them was Monica, who was the company’s only estimator at the time. The other was their lead designer.

One year later, everyone is alive, and despite all the difficulties, they also hit all of their business goals.

In this episode, Jef and Monica talk about the challenges with Victoria and Mark, and share insights into how they kept it all going.

Jef and Monica are business partners at Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor MI. Jef has participated in every level at Remodelers Advantage Roundtables and is a member of our MentorFor group. Over the last four years, Jef has focused on improving his coaching and leadership skills, resulting in improved client satisfaction, planned healthy growth and a positive team culture. Jef was recently a semi-finalist for the Fred Case Entrepreneur Award, and for the Remodelers Advantage Impact Award. Jef credits all of this success to his collaboration with Monica, their team, and Roundtables.

The team culture at their company was a key component of the company coming together and adapting to the emotional and business changes, Monica and Jef say. When her diagnosis came, they were about to implement The Great Game of Business, which empowers every employee to act like an owner and share in the profits. But then everything changed. Jef and Monica talk about how they got through the year, including:

  • Being prepared for the unexpected
  • Developing a strategy to get through
  • How to deal with work absences
  • The importance of cross-training
  • Figuring out who takes over the extra work
  • Tapping into the strength of your team
  • Being open about your tough times
  • Leading through vulnerability
  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • Handling the emotional components
  • And more …

The company continues to perform at peak levels due to the strength of the company culture, and their proven processes and systems.

Cool Gear, Great Cause

If you’re looking for cool gear and apparel to show your Roundtables pride  that also supports a great cause, check out our Shop. All of the proceeds go to our partner, The American Cancer Society. It’s a win-win!

Ep.89: Focusing on Clarity in Communication with Jeremy Steinruck

We’re under an almost-constant barrage of information from every angle. As leaders in our business, it’s imperative that our messages are clearly understood. But it’s equally important, if not more so, that we get messages clearly. 

Looking ahead to 2020, Jeremy Steinruck is focusing on clarity in communication and cutting through the white noise.  

In this episode, Jeremy discusses how to make your communication skills better with Victoria and Mark, what it will take, and how it will help your business and your life.

Jeremy is co-owner and vice president of Axis Construction in Wichita Falls, TX, a company he and partner Jeff Miller started 13 years ago. Jeremy holds a master’s degree in human resource management, but he is most thankful for the influence of incredible mentors and friends who have shared their wisdom freely. 

Learning to be a better communicator is possible, even if it’s not in your native skillset. Jeremy says the first part, for him, was getting rid of his “head trash.” He had to get rid of limiting beliefs, only hang on to ideas that could be proven true, eliminate his assumptions of what someone else believes, and not let any of those things influence his decisions. He talks about how to get past that, and boost your communication and listening skills, including:

  • The basic rules of engagement
  • Facing fears
  • Placing yourself in someone else’s comfort zone
  • How to plan your conversations
  • Understanding you can’t convince someone else
  • Asking questions to get to others’ needs
  • Setting goals at the beginning of the conversation
  • Communicating with intent
  • The four things to do before having a tough conversation
  • And more …

Two of the biggest barriers to effective communication are distraction and selfishness, and Jeremy says that recentering and concentrating on your core values will help you get over them.

Ep.87: Partnership — Creating a Unified Vision for your Company’s Future with Matt Carlson

Having a business partner can be an enormous advantage if you approach it correctly. Most people underestimate the commitment and work that goes into a partnership. Ensuring that you’re on the same page and share the same vision goes far beyond having a plan on paper.

In this episode, Matt Carlson shares his story with Victoria and Mark, and what he’s learned as the minority partner in his business in making the relationship work.

Matt is the general manager and co-owner of Fox Home Innovations in Manhattan, KS. After 10 years in the business, and nine as an owner he has a unique perspective on the lessons he has learned from growing FHI alongside his business partner Chris Fox.

Matt and Chris met in college, and worked on several projects together there while both where studying entrepreneurship. Matt then joined Chris in his new remodeling company. He started out working in the field, and Chris proposed the partnership idea quickly. It started as a trial run for a year, while he was still considered an employee. They made it official after the trial period. Matt talks about what you need to do to create and maintain a successful partnership, including:

  • Making the commitment
  • Being open and honest
  • Putting egos aside
  • How to maintain an equal partnership regardless of ownership stake
  • The importance of having open books
  • Delegating duties and responsibilities
  • Keeping egos out of it
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Speaking with one voice
  • Taking a thoughtful approach to long-term company health
  • And more …

If you’re in a partnership, or are considering one, Matt says the biggest thing to remember is to put the business first — above any personal relationship you share.

Never Stop Learning…

In today’s episode, Mark mentions our Masterclass sessions that are now available. These two-day courses are intimate, interactive sessions with plenty of hands-on instruction. Small class sizes mean you have plenty of time to interact with your trainer and classmates. All of our instructors are industry experts and among the best in their fields of expertise. To see our slate of available courses, go to https://www.remodelersadvantage.com/events-training/masterclass

Ep.81: The Department Your Company Doesn’t Have, but Should with Alex Raisanen

All remodelers have a sales department. All remodelers have a production department. But few officially recognize a human resources department. 

Alex Raisanan used her experience to build an HR department for TraVek, a remodeling company in Scottsdale, AZ. Through skill and creativity, the department was able to build its team by 123 percent in a tough labor market.

In this episode, Alex shares how she did it with Victoria and Mark, and tells you how an HR department of one can help you grow your team with intention and create a culture worth talking about.

Alex is the human resource director at TraVek. Her dedication to high standards was ingrained at an early age by her luxury resort experience in the HR department of the Four Seasons Scottsdale, and led her to corporate recruiting at one of the largest national companies in the construction sector, and then finally to TraVek. 

She learned how to build a culture at the Four Seasons and found her passion for helping people find jobs to support themselves and their families. Alex has officially been at TraVek since February 2017, but had been doing work behind the scenes previously. Alex helped develop some policies and procedures, and an employee handbook. When she began full-time, she dove into recruiting in a tough labor market. She shares her strategies for finding the right people for the right roles, and growing your business, including:

  • How to network and build relationships
  • Starting conversations with people who have the skills you need
  • How she attracts top talent
  • Taking the long view of recruiting
  • Using LinkedIn and social media to grow your staff
  • Why to recruit when you’re not necessarily hiring
  • What to do when you find a superstar, but no formal job opening
  • Establishing a templated on-boarding process
  • The interview process
  • Involving your team to evaluate a good fit
  • The questions to ask to determine a cultural fit
  • And more …

Proactively recruiting can help you increase the chances that the top talent will be interested and available when you do have an opening.  

Ep.78: The Most Powerful Competitive Advantage with Steve Anderson

In a low-unemployment economy, recruiting and retaining the best talent is a continuous effort. You need a powerful competitive advantage — one that’s nearly impossible for anyone else to copy. 

It’s your company culture.

In this episode, Steve Anderson tells Victoria and Mark why that is, and how you can develop a successful culture — or turn around a faltering one. 

Steve’s an author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He’s worked with tens of thousands of professionals to grow and expand their businesses. Steve has spoken at our Remodeler’s Summit and worked with our Roundtables members in the past.

Your company culture is a combination of priorities and processes, and how your team acts on them, that results in how people feel about your company, inside and out. It can happen by default or by definition, but almost all successful cultures happen by design. He tells you how to look at your culture critically, and the steps to take to improve it, including:

  • Building on natural laws 
  • Defining your priorities
  • Designing your culture intentionally
  • The law of emotion
  • What the 10 Commandments can teach you about changing your culture
  • Defining your culture in a written document
  • Setting expectations
  • Reinforcing acceptable behavior
  • Why the customer shouldn’t come first
  • Using your culture in recruiting and hiring
  • The culture mistakes you may be making
  • And more …

There’s a copy of Steve’s first written culture guide in his book, The Culture of Success: 10 Natural Laws for Creating a Place Where Everyone Wants to Work. He invites everyone to use that culture guide to create your own — just click the link and make your purchase.

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.

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