I’ve worked with one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. Linda Case, for over 20 years and it’s been an unbelievable pleasure. You’ve been reading her column in Remodeling magazine for even longer and if the notes that we receive from readers are true, Linda’s changed many lives with her words of wisdom. Well, Linda is retiring from the remodeling industry at the end of this year and she’ll be sorely missed. However, you’ll still have a bit of her business savvy to help you build strong, profitable remodeling companies. That’s because she’s compiled a fabulous selection of essays on the topics you need most, and this valuable information will soon be available in her new book, Business Straight to the Heart: The Remodelers Guide to Leadership, Management and Success. Here’s a taste of what promised to be another best seller . . .
Are you wondering what you will do “when you grow up”? Are you feeling blah about your business and where you are in life? Do you wonder if there is more (satisfaction? money? free time? balance? fun?) than you are currently experiencing?
No, this is not a commercial for hair implants, little blue pills, or a singles dating service. It is not uncommon for me to work with remodelers who question the direction they have taken in their business lives. So what do I do? I ask them more questions.
This may sound like a fortune cookie, but I’ve learned over the years that the right answers come from asking the right questions. And the right answers come from reaching back to the bedrock in your life (what you love, what you believe, what is really important to you) and then working forward.
Here are some tried-and-true questions that I use to help elicit answers from clients that can point the way to the company that best suits their abilities and lifestyle. You can use them, too. Just be sure to write down your answers so you can adjust and edit them and return to them in order to mine the information they hold for you. To give you some idea of how your answer might look, I’ve provided a few of the answers recently given by a remodeler in his quest for a better fit with his company.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a person?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses in business?
“I tend to take on too much. I over-commit. I fail to follow through….I am sometimes almost visionary. I am particularly creative, resourceful, and a great problem solver. And I have always been exceptional at bringing in business…but not so good at handling it once I’ve brought it in.”
- What do you love to do in your personal life?
- What do you love to do at work?
- What do you dislike doing at work?
“I hate being disorganized or not on top of my details. I also dislike being hectic, particularly because I tend to lose focus when I am hectic and then I can miss important things. I get tired and bored when doing repetitive tasks….”
- If you had just the company you want 3 years from now, what would it look like?
- How do you like managing others in your business? Are you good at hiring? At coaching? “I like managing. I can be a good coach, and I can tell people hard things, too, when necessary, usually in a productive way. I do, however, need a good structure to make sure I follow through on all of the details….”
- What kind and size of projects please you the most?
- What kind of clients (including education level, finances) do you prefer working with?
- Do you read business books? How many in a year? If so which have been your favorites?
- Do you read trade magazines, trade books, etc.?
- How do you view the importance of finances in your company? How do you judge if you are doing well or poorly financially?
“It’s as if I have had blinders on these last 6 years. All I paid attention to was the checkbook balance, my billables, and what I was able to draw out as take-home pay….I understand that to move forward I must discipline myself to pay close and regular attention to the P&L and the balance sheet….”
Each of us can design a company that complements our goals and talents. It takes stepping back, analyzing what is working and what is not, assessing our strengths and weaknesses, and then building a company where our strengths are maximized to their highest impact and value—and one where we love what we do and what we deliver!
And More Questions….
The following is the quickest quiz you’ll ever take. It will take you approximately 10 seconds. If you can answer “yes” to the following three questions, you don’t need to read any further. Pat yourself on the back, for you are a success in business. However, if some of your answers are “no,” keep reading.
1. Do you make a good salary and a net profit that compensates you for the risks you take as owner?
2. Do you work 50 hours a week or less in your business?
3. Are you generally happy in your business?
The last question is undoubtedly the most important but is usually dependent on the first two. So let’s start with money.
1. Can a remodeler make both a good salary and a healthy net profit of 5 to 10%? Absolutely. Is it easy? Not particularly. But it’s not easy to be financially successful in any field. After working with thousands of remodelers, I have learned that turning this critical area around starts with convincing the owner that there is no use staying in their business if they can’t make adequate money (the “stick”) and showing them that others no brighter or more talented than they have conquered this problem (the “carrot”).
This is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Business Straight to the Heart: The Remodelers Guide to Leadership, Managment and Success. The book is in production and will begin shipping in mid-September.
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