organizational development

Ep.59: Empower Your Team to Help You Build a Great Business with Jason Blenker

If you’re going to build something — a building, a company, a team — you owe it to the world to build something great. Identify what makes you exceptional and empower your team to help you build a great business.

In this episode, Jason Blenker tells Victoria and Mark about how and why he put his organization on the path to greatness, how he defines the term, and inspiring your team to carry out that mission.

Jason is the president of Blenker Companies Inc., a Midwest provider of housing solutions designed to make the building process easier, faster, and better with one mission — to Build Something Great® — great buildings, great communities, great companies, great leaders, and great team members.

About five years ago, he set out to grow his business and build a leadership team around him to make it happen. Jason looked at what world-class companies do, reached out to mentors and coaches, and got to work. A great organization is one that people want to work with and for, and is active in the communities it serves, he says. Getting everyone on the same page is the first step, and he talks about how he did that, including:

  • Creating your roadmap
  • Planning for success
  • Communicating to get employee buy-in
  • Breaking down what it means to individuals
  • Evaluating who does what best and letting them
  • Overcoming the fear of change
  • The changes coming to the industry
  • Why profit isn’t the only driver for success
  • The time you need to take to work on the organization
  • How to let go and  trust others to make great decisions
  • Getting past analysis paralysis
  • And more …

Taking the time to invest in yourself may mean taking time away from working in your business, Jason says, but it’s the only way to propel your organization forward.

 

We are now on Spotify!

As you can see by the logo on the right, PowerTips Unscripted is now available on Spotify for those of you who might be using that app on your mobile device. Enjoy!
 
 

Ep.58: How LEAN Principles Have Improved My Business with Paul Kowalski

We’ve talked about LEAN before on the show with our own experts, but you may wonder what it looks like in the real world. Today we’ll hear about using LEAN in the remodeling business from an award-winning design-build company that focuses on residential remodeling.

In this episode, Paul Kowalski shares his experiences in applying LEAN in his business with Victoria and Mark. His company recently implemented the process, and he says the results have already been eye-opening.

Paul Kowalski is the owner of PK Builders in Charlotte, NC, and a member of our Remodelers Advantage Roundtables group. PK Builders has a team of eight, including Paul, with four Project Managers, an Estimator, and a Draftsman.

PK Builders was experiencing growing pains in 2018 — bottlenecks in the design-build process, some cash-flow issues, higher overhead, so they called in Doug Howard for help. Paul says it was intimidating at first, but soon becomes second nature to look for ways to speed up processes. It started with 16 feet of paper festooned with sticky notes detailing steps in the design process. They began by diving into the design process, and he discusses how they did it, including:

  • Explaining it to your staff
  • Sharing in chunks
  • Finding the hiccups
  • Why the people closest to the work have the best feedback
  • Getting over the intimidation factor
  • Timelines and swim lanes
  • Not including time for revisions
  • Building in collaboration up front
  • Unintended consequences
  • And more …

Paul and his team are deep in the LEAN process, and excited to see what their future brings, including how it affects their positive cash flow. They’ll be looking at the Production process as their experience with LEAN continues. We’ll check in with Paul on how it’s going in the future.

Here’s that 16-ft. piece of paper!

Getting LEAN

See the video Paul talks about outlining LEAN principles from the Food Bank For New York City on YouTube.

If you want to learn more about LEAN, and download the free process mapping tool, go to leanremodeling.com.

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.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.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.20: Constantly Improving Your Business Using Kaizen with Michael Sauri

Kaizen means (literally) “Change for Good,” and that can mean REALLY good things for your growing remodeling company. This process of constant improvement, with every team member participating, allows your company to constantly raise the bar on its target metrics.

In Episode 20, Victoria and Mark learn more about the Kaizen practice of process improvement by welcoming Michael Sauri, CEO of TriVista USA, to the show.

Michael and his wife Deborah started TriVistaUSA in 2005 with the goal of providing an outlet for creativity and a Ritz Carlton-level client experience. “Our Thoughtful Design Builds Fine Living,” is their mission statement and their mantra as they bring phenomenal, award-winning design to the Design/Build community in the Washington DC area.

The Kaizen practice focuses on improving existing, standardized processes by eliminating waste and was first practiced in Japanese businesses after the World War II.

Michael provides some great insight on how TriVista has adopted Kaizen throughout his business and includes:

  • The background of Kaizen and how TriVista got involved
  • Hiring and developing a team within the Kaizen structure
  • The differences between Kaizen and other process improvement practices
  • 3 metrics of measurement to measure client satisfaction
  • What a Kaizen Event is and what the goal of the effort is
  • Issues and examples where Kaizen improved their business
  • Managing team buy-in into the process
  • And More…

To learn more about TriVistaUSA, visit their website at https://www.trivistausa.com/

 

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As always, if you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader that you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes and Stitcher.

 
 

Ep.19: Sales Compensation Plans & Impact on Company Culture with Ciro Giammona

When it comes to compensating remodeling sales professionals, there are so many different models or plans; each with its own set of incentives and sales performance metrics.

But have you ever considered the effect that your sales compensation plan has on company culture? We work so hard to create and maintain the right culture fit for our employees but something as simple as how we pay our salespeople can throw off that critical balance.

In Episode 19 Harrell Remodeling’s CEO, Ciro Giammona, joins Victoria and Mark to talk more about their award-winning firm’s unique approach to sales compensation and how it has impacted their company’s culture.

Since joining Harrell Remodeling as an estimator in 1996, Ciro’s attention to detail, exemplary customer focus and commitment to the company’s employee-ownership culture eventually led him to the role of General Manager in 2006, President in 2011 and CEO in June of 2014.

Harrell Remodeling is a very successful, 33-year-old, second generation full-service design + build residential remodeling company based in Mountain View, California. Harrell’s employee-owned company structure and culture is well-known and respected within the design + build and remodeling community.

Ciro shares some excellent points on how commission-based sales compensation plans can impact not only the bottom line, but company morale and culture as well. Harrell’s salary compensation for their design/sales team is explored and Victoria and Mark take a closer look at the sales management and tracking process.

A great episode for any remodeling firm looking to improve company culture, effectiveness of your sales payment plan and so much more… Enjoy!

If you would like to learn more about Ciro Giammona and his team at Harrell Remodeling you can visit their website here: https://harrell-remodeling.com

We love the feedback we have received so far!

As always, if you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader that you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes and Stitcher.

Ep.18: Adapt or Become Irrelevant with Mark Richardson

In Episode 18, Victoria and Mark Harari welcome author and industry adviser Mark Richardson and talk more about the changes that have impacted the remodeling industry and how companies today need to either adapt or risk becoming irrelevant.

Mark Richardson is the Former President and Co-Chairman of Case Design/Remodeling, a Senior Fellow at Harvard and the author of 4 books; 30 DAY Remodeling Business Fitness, How Fit Is Your Business?, Fit to Grow and Control Your Day; 7 Steps to Time Mastery. Mark is also the host of the Remodeling Mastery Podcast.

The hosts explore Mark’s background and the various ways he has been involved in the remodeling industry. From pioneering the Design + Build concept from the early days with Case, to the challenges and obstacles they were able to overcome when growing their business.

Mark talks more about how he and his firm were able to learn from others and from experience and how Case’s founder, Fred Case, created an environment where team members were free to test and try things to improve the business. “Most successful people are students of success,” said Richardson, and went on to explain and encourage today’s remodeler to “put in the time to learn, read, observe, think, etc.”

Victoria, Mark and Mark dig more into some of the different ways the industry has changed over the past several years, including:

  • Time; from the time needed to adapt and change to the response time now expected and demanded by clients
  • How technology is now an integral part of doing business vs. being optional in the past
  • The level of transparency now faced by businesses, where the client’s knowledge and cost of products may outpace your own and they have full access to your past performance, reviews on your business, etc.
  • How clients perceive or envision a project and how you sell or get them to commit
  • How companies can learn and know which ways to adapt themselves

How have you adapted or changed your business?

We would love to hear some constructive feedback on ways you have adapted your business to meet the changes in our industry. Use the comments section below to share your experiences.

We love the feedback we have received so far!

As always, if you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader that you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes and Stitcher.