Leadership

Ep.80: Bridging the Skills Gap from an Economist’s Perspective with Mischa Fisher

An aging skilled workforce is retiring, and there’s a shortage of younger people taking their place. It’s a hot topic among remodeling companies, who are still searching for the right answers to solving their labor shortage.

In  this episode, Mischa Fisher, Victoria, and Mark discuss what you can do to bridge the skills gap, and how to change deep-seated perceptions around joining the home-services industry. 

Mischa Fisher is the chief economist at ANGI Homeservices, representing the HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List brands. Prior to this role, Mischa was chief economist for Illinois, where he served as the economic policy advisor to the governor; he is also a former legislative director for the United States Congress in Washington, DC, and is currently an instructor in applied quantitative analysis at Northwestern University. 

Mischa says the labor shortage starts with s a simple fact of demographics, where an aging workforce is getting ready to retire, and the Millennials and younger Generation Z aren’t in the pipeline to replace them. Compounding that, there’s already a shortage of skilled labor. An internal HomeAdvisor poll showed 65 percent of their members could not fill a position, says Mischa, and it’s getting worse. Mischa shares his insights into what’s causing the labor shortage, and how we can all go about fixing it, plus bonus advice from his dad, including:

  • Why talking about it is a great start
  • Raising awareness inside and outside the industry
  • Best practices to fill your open positions
  • How to appeal to Millennials and Gen Z with a rewarding workplace
  • The importance of building a real team
  • Recognizing generational differences and how to work with them
  • How to create a clear pathway to learning
  • Recruiting older, experienced people
  • Using the student loan crisis to your advantage in recruiting
  • Appealing to the entrepreneurial spirit
  • Working with industry, government, and educational leaders
  • Educating parents about the advantages of learning a skilled trade
  • And more …


Mischa says you can find more resources to help at the Home Advisor Pro Center. Keep an eye out for a new research portal that will be live in a couple of months at www.homeadvisor.research.

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.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.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.54: Solving the Labor Shortage with Paul Eldrenkamp

Regional remodeling companies are desperate for more good labor. Regional carpentry programs are constantly on the lookout for good jobs for their students. How do you bring these groups together effectively?

In this episode, Paul Eldrenkamp talks to Victoria and Mark about the program he and his local NARI chapter have developed to bring students and remodeling companies together,  and what you can do in your area.

Paul works for Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling firm based in Newton, MA. He’s working closely with his NARI chapter to build better connections to carpentry students and teachers at local high schools and vocational schools.

His first outreach experience stemmed from a talk he did at a Boston-area high school about green building practices. The school reached out for help in preparing their students who weren’t going to college to enter the workforce with those building skills.

It grew from there. At first, Paul tried building an outreach program through the company, but it was overwhelming their resources. Working through other NARI with other interested member companies, a workforce committee was born. He talks about how they did it, and the benefits, including:

  • How to find people in the school systems and state agencies to help
  • Creating internship programs
  • The big hurdles, and how to get over them
  • Coaching kids toward lifelong success
  • The benefits to your own team
  • Budgeting internship hours
  • Identifying good candidates
  • Increasing diversity
  • The responsibilities of the industry
  • And more…

The future for the Boston program is bright, filling open jobs with candidates who might not be seen otherwise. If you’d like to reach out to Paul about your initiative or for help starting a program near you, send him an email at paul@byggmeister.com.

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.

 

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.

 

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