Maintaining a Strong Company Culture as You Grow

Company culture — we talk about it frequently in our Podcasts, PowerTips Blog posts and in the Roundtables meetings with our members. It’s an important factor in attracting new employees, and in keeping your existing staff happy and productive.

A good company culture encourages growth, and in this business environment, many remodelers are taking on more jobs, adding new roles, and hiring people to fill them. Especially in a growth spurt, the culture will change, so it’s important to understand how to keep those changes positive.

It’s become such a part of business-speak, it’s easy to blow past just what a company’s culture really is. It should come out of your mission statement, your values, your systems, and business practices. You may even have crafted a statement about what your culture is. But defining it doesn’t really tell you everything. You have to look at your people to see it in action, and as the business owner, you have to look hard at yourself too.

From the top

As an entrepreneur, your company had a culture even when it was just you at the beginning. As you added one or two employees, it became something else, almost by accident. If that happened, take control now. Define your core values, and create systems and practices that reinforce that, from customer service to internal interactions. Your culture is lived by everyone in the company, and affects how they interact with others — inside the company, and with clients and subcontractors.

A strong and positive culture depends on every employee understanding your company’s mission and vision. Your employees will look to you to model those values. If it’s not authentic, they’ll know. If you say, for example, that you value a healthy work/life balance and don’t demonstrate that yourself, you’re sending a bad message. If you — as the boss — do take time off but are stingy or openly resentful about others doing so, it’s an even worse message.

A healthy company culture is tied to values, but also to goals and objectives. As you grow, you’ll find it helpful to to refine and detail those goals and objectives to each department. Celebrate the wins — not only the big milestones, like a finished project, but the smaller, incremental ones like a lead qualified, sale made, or design for a client completed.

Growth & change

Clear communication is always a key component of a healthy company and a positive culture, but it gets harder as you grow. You’ve got staff in the office and out in the field, you can’t be everywhere at once, and most people are focused on their part of the whole process.

Have weekly meetings for the entire company, with brief updates from each department (even if it’s a one-person department) on their activities and objectives for the time period. Seems like a simple step, but it makes a huge difference. Otherwise, everyone’s operating in a vacuum. The larger you get, the more important the regular communication of progress and goals as a company becomes.

Make sure you explain how all the different activities tie together. If a new marketing initiative is bringing in leads, and sales is closing them at a good rate, then design and production know they’ll be busy soon.

Trim as needed

You may also find that as your company gets bigger and your culture changes, some of your employees aren’t growing along with you. Put in the effort to get them up to speed with the changes. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to fire them for the good of the company. This can be extremely difficult if it’s a longtime employee, but a grumbling old-timer can quickly turn new employees sour, or send them out the door for a better fit at a different company.

If you’re in growth mode, you know how hard it’s been to get there. Creating or resetting a strong culture to live your values, and demonstrate them to your employees will help you find — and keep — great people who want to do great work. With you.


What About You?

What are some ways you and your company have maintained, or changed, company culture as your company grew and became more successful over the years? We would love to hear some success stories out there! Use the comments section below to provide some feedback, we would love to hear from you.

[Podcast] Episode 13: Buying Out Your Business Partner with Rick Goldstein

Business partnerships are a foundation that so many of our R/A Roundtables Members have built their remodeling businesses on… Whether it’s a family or a group of professionals coming together to form a business, each has its own story along the way.

In episode 13 we take a closer look at a scenario where one partner wants to buy another out and take sole ownership of the business. Victoria and Mark welcome Rick Goldstein of Mosaic Design + Build to the podcast and discuss the process that Rick went through recently to buy his partner out of their firm in Atlanta, GA.

Rick has been the Co-Owner, and now sole owner, of Mosaic for more than 12 years and has been an avid member of the Remodelers Advantage family for many years. Rick and his partner made the decision to move toward a buy-out years ago and Victoria and Mark discuss and ask about the challenges they ran into and lessons-learned along the way.

Victoria, Mark and Rick talk more about:

  • Developing a shareholders agreement – covering ownership transitions, scenarios, exit strategies, etc.
  • Obstacles to overcome (timing, emotional steps, valuation, etc.)
  • Bringing in consultants such as a business valuation firm to get an agreed-upon base line
  • Factors that are calculated in the valuation process
  • How roles and responsibilities play-in to the buy-out process
  • Getting accountants and attorneys involved to hammer out how to physically make the transition
  • Communicating to the company’s leadership and team regarding the process
  • Top three pieces of advice for any owner looking to make this transition

Whether you are considering this move for your remodeling business or not, Rick’s story is fascinating and definitely worth a listen!

Click Here to Listen to Episode 13 >>


Are you a PowerTips Unscripted “Super Fan” yet?

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.

[Podcast] Episode 12: Growing a Strong, Successful Family-owned Remodeling Business with Dolores Davis

Building a business can be both a challenging and fulfilling adventure; Hard work, long hours, doing the little things behind the scenes to help grow the business, etc.

Many remodelers out there have not only built strong and profitable businesses, they have done so with the help of family, often spanning multiple generations.

Episode 12 covers both topics as Victoria and Mark talk with Dolores Davis, General Manager of CG&S Design-Build, a very successful family-owned remodeling business in Austin, TX.

The CG&S success story spans three generations of the Guerrero family. Dolores has been with the firm for 25 years, starting as a Production Assistant, learning the business from all areas and working her way up to her current role of General Manager. Dolores is a R/A Roundtables Member and is very active in industry associations such as NARI.

Victoria and Mark discuss 3-4 keys to success with Dolores and delve further into what has made CG&S so successful, not only a remodeling business, but also some of the challenges that working in a family-owned business can bring.

If you are a remodeling company that wants to take their business to the next level, this episode offers great insight into how to get there.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 12 >>


How about showing us some love?

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.

PowerTips Book Recommendations: February 2018

At many Remodelers Advantage meetings, gatherings, podcast episodes, speaking events, etc. the subject of recommended books comes up frequently.

As a monthly feature here on PowerTips, we want to capture these recommendations and make them available for download/purchase. In the future we will tap into more of our member Roundtables groups, sponsors, associates and other thought-leaders who might give you the next great book to add to your growing library.

So to kick things off we started with recommendations from our amazing Facilitators & Staff here at Remodelers Advantage. I asked them to provide me with titles and a short description as to why they would recommend the book.

Paul Winans

“The Five Dysfunctions of Team” by Patrick Lencioni
I use this book in my work with a company. Prior to my arrival the entire company is to read it. Over the course of our work together Lencioni’s fable about a company facing challenges working together sparks insights from the attendees about their company and their respective behaviors.

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
We read this book as a company two times. 30-60 pages at a time, followed by a one hour meeting to share what we learned. A remarkable experience each time. A powerful way to help your employees take on being more responsible for themselves.

Victoria Downing

“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson
It’s a fantastic book that spells out an easy-to-follow method for addressing an array of issues that an owner may experience when managing employees. Basically, it shares a script for handling conflict and uncomfortable conversations. I found the insights hugely helpful in developing the understanding of how to approach high emotion situations

Mark Harari

“Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini
For anyone even remotely interested in Marketing this book should be considered required reading. But even for those who are not marketers, the book serves as a general communications skill-building tool. The concepts and techniques are foundational in contract negotiations, leadership, sales and more.

Rose Grabowski

“Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Dhuigg
Explains WHY people do what they do. The reader can get a better understanding of themselves, as well as those around them.

Doug Howard

“The Founders Mentality” by Chris Zook and James Allen
Speaks to the challenges of growing a business and keeping it true to original purpose and principles of the founder. It cites strategies for identifying and addressing this phenomenon and offers a framework for business owners that have had tremendous growth but may be struggling as they have drifted from that original perspective.

“Failure is Not an Option” by Gene Kranz
Is not written as a business book but has great lessons about leadership, creating processes and procedures, creating a culture and resiliency. It follows the progress from the earliest days of the space program to the successes and challenges of the Apollo program and the critical role played by Mission Control and an amazing group of leaders in that arena.

Judith Miller

“Principles” by Ray Dalio

The author’s introduction on the back jacket says “Ray Dalio is one of the great investors and entrepreneurs of our time.” Bill Gates says “Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance and insights that are now available to you in Principles.” Hard to argue with Bill Gates!

The book is divided into 3 parts: his history, Where I’m Coming From, his Life Principles and the meat of the book “Work Principles.” This section probably applies to any organization: what to do “To Get The Culture Right,” To Get the People Right,” and “To Build and Evolve your Machine.”

I’ve only started the book and at 552 pages it will probably take the rest of my life to finish. But any book which promises “a clear straightforward approach to decision making” called “believability weighting” AND proposes “an idea meritocracy that strives for meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical truth and radical transparency” is worth that much time.

Thank You

A huge Thank You to our facilitators and team members for those great recommendations. Happy reading! More coming in 2018!



Disclosure: The links provided above are Amazon Affiliate links and that means, at no additional cost to you, Remodelers Advantage may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

6 Ways to Motivate Your ENTIRE Team

I was reading an article in INC Magazine about motivating sales teams and I noticed that many of the concepts suggested to push a sales team to succeed, would also work nicely for everyone in the company.

So, this article talked about different ways to motive a sales team, beyond of course a commission check, which is often what so many businesses focus on.

Perhaps because so many remodeling companies out there are sales & marketing focused, I wanted to share these 6 ways to motive your ENTIRE team for success.

1. Set goals

Again, beyond any type of quota or commission, what are some group and even individual goals that you can set to keep everyone moving forward?

Get to know your team… what motivates them? Food? Free time? Stuff for the office? Perhaps create a contest or fun way for team members or departments to compete for a prize.

2. Focus on Purpose

Share the mission of the company at your weekly, monthly or quarterly meetings; make sure everyone is aware of the vision and how each of them plays an integral part.

This is especially important to the younger people on your team… they love that stuff and it’s been proven that turnover decreases as more team members commit to a common mission.

3. Build Trust of Leadership

Nothing kills morale more than when a team no longer respects or trusts their leader.

Build trust by being a “firm & fair” manager, being direct and straightforward as possible and make your team feel appreciated and engaged.

4. Work Across Siloes

As your team grows each department may begin to internalize and “silo” and this can breed finger-pointing and blame when something goes wrong.

Think about how your sales & production teams interact, for example.

Come up with some team building exercises you can do, where teams are made up of representatives from various department and each team must solve a problem, puzzle or challenge.

5. Create a Culture of Recognition

While some team members feel more comfortable receiving praise and recognition than others; it’s a great way to motive the team and call-out individuals who go above and beyond.

Don’t just do it at the end of the year… get on a regular schedule of recognizing these “go-getters” at weekly or monthly meetings.

6. Get Creative

Recognition means way more when it’s memorable and personal…

Monthly winners get to sit in a special chair at the weekly meetings and park in the VIP spot for a month. Send a letter home to the employees family sharing the news of the recognition. That always goes over well!

Call them out on social media so their family and friends know what a great job they are doing too.

How about you?

How do you motivate your team members? What tactics have worked best for you? What tactics haven’t worked? Please share your experience in the comments below.

And, if you haven’t subscribed to PowerTips yet, please hit the button at the end of this video.. right after the bloopers…

Thanks, and I’ll see you next week.

[Podcast] Episode 01: How to Create a Valuable, Sellable Company with John Warrillow

For our first episode of PowerTips Unscripted, we’re thrilled to have John Warrillow as our inaugural guest. John is the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, and in this episode he shares tips on how you can build a high-value company. Even if you’re not thinking about selling today, you can’t afford to turn a blind eye to the process.

Topics covered include:

  • Action steps to developing a sellable company
  • The hub-and-spoke manager vs. the apple picker
  • The Switzerland structure
  • How to sell “air”

Plus, John helped us kick-off our “Lightning Round” and “Five Words of Wisdom” segments. All that and more for our first episode. Enjoy!

Click Here to Listen to Episode 1

How To Build An Org Chart For Today And Tomorrow

Many of our Remodelers Advantage members have built their companies up over a period of time, often starting with 1-2 employees and adding team members as the company grows from year to year.

Production, Sales, Estimating, Support… The next thing you know you have 10, 15, 20 employees or maybe more. In this episode of PowerTips TV we talk about organizing your team and creating an org chart, not only for today but for the future as well.

What about your team? Do you have a way of organizing your team that works?

Please share your experience in the comments below. And, if you haven’t subscribed to PowerTips yet, please do so by visiting our YouTube Channel.. and hey, check out a few more episodes while you’re at it.


PowerTips TV Throw-back Thursday: “5 Mistakes Most Family Businesses Make”

We have many Remodelers Advantage members and alumni who are part of a thriving family business. Working with family can be both a fulfilling and frustrating experience not only for family members, but for your employees and clients as well.

In today’s throw-back episode of PowerTips TV we take a closer look at five mistakes family members make when working together and more importantly, when the business is handed from one generation to the next.

length 3:42 (not including bonus content)

Are you part of a family business? If so, do you feel everyone in the family is on the same page with business goals or are you frustrated because everyone seems to want different things?

Is the leadership of the business now and into the future clear and spelled out or is it just too difficult to talk about with your family partners?

Well, yesterday, I received a book from my friend and fellow peer group member, Wayne Rivers, Co-Founder and President of The Family Business Institute. Wayne has worked with hundreds of family businesses across the U.S. and in his new book, The Eight Building Blocks for Creating a Sustainable Closely Held Company he shares his list of the top reasons family businesses fail.

I’ll discuss these five reasons with you in today’s episode of PowerTips TV!

What about you?

Have you run into these challenges in your family business? How did you handle it? Please share your stories in the comments below!

PowerTips TV Throw-back Thursday: “How to Keep New Hires From Jumping Ship”

Earlier this week our PowerTips post covered building a positive company culture and a key part of that effort relies on hiring and retaining great employees.

In this week’s throw-back episode I talk about a crucial aspect of employee retention and that is how to properly welcome and onboard a new employee.

After watching this video, look at how your company welcomes new employees and explore your onboarding process. Can it be improved? Ask your newest employees if they experienced any of the scenarios that I cover in this video.

Retaining great employees not only leads to a more solid company culture, but can also be a great contributor to higher gross profits for your business.

Have you ever hired a great new employee, only to have him leave six months later? You’re not alone. According to The Society for Human Resources Management, the chances of a new hire leaving in the first 18 months can be as high as 50 percent.

With the economy heating up, many remodelers are in the market to hire. So what can you do to make certain that your new hire is in it for the long haul? Well, we know that a good onboarding process can make all the difference.

In this week’s episode, I’ll explain how new hire onboarding is one of the best ways to ensure that you keep your superstars around.

What about you?

Do you have any tips for increasing production capacity (without hiring) that I might have missed? Please share them with me in the comments below!

5 Marketing and Sales Goals Your Remodeling Business Needs to Set…and Achieve in 2016

Sometimes when we think about the New Year and all our goals we want to achieve, we over-complicate things.  I like to keep it simple.

Want to grow your business? Focus on sales and marketing.  Improving your production process won’t grow your business.  Getting a new accounting software won’t grow your business.

I’ve been thinking a lot about growth over the last several years trying to grow my own business as well as our client’s businesses, and here’s what I’ve realized:

You have to invest in growth with Time or Money

  • TIME: You have to put more time in and get more out of your existing staff and resources
  • MONEY: You must either hire an outside marketing firm or hire another salesperson

Where you get that money can also vary.  You can take outside money from investors, you can go into your cash reserves, you can cut into your profitability by raising your expenses, or you can borrow money.

Growth doesn’t just happen.  It is intentional.

So, if you’re looking to grow your remodeling business this year, here’s what I think you need to do.  If you focus on the following five sales and marketing goals this year, you’ll have a year to remember.

1. Establish Lifecycle Stages

Most remodelers we talk to and work with don’t have good naming conventions for types of leads.  Even if you are the marketing person and the sales person in your company, you need to know which leads are qualified and to what extent they are qualified.  Here’s what we recommend for lifecycle stages.

  1. Subscriber – a subscriber is someone that has signed up for your blog or newsletter but has only given up their email address.  You don’t have a name or phone number.
  2. Lead – a lead is someone that has filled out a form on the website (case study download, e-book, etc.)  You typically have a first name, last name, and email.
  3. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – a marketing qualified lead is someone that has shown significant interest and has filled out a bottom of the funnel (BOFU) offer. This could be a Remodeling Consultation, Scheduled Call, RSVP for an Open House, Scheduled Showroom Visit, etc.
  4. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – after a sales person has called on an MQL, sales will decide if this is an opportunity worth pursuing. Examples of sales ruling an opportunity out could be the MQL is in the wrong geographical area, they don’t have the budget, they made a mistake filling out the form, or they will never buy your services (maybe they are a student or a competitor).  If they don’t get ruled out, they are now an SQL and are worthy of follow-up.
  5. Customer – A customer has purchased from you.
  6. Evangelist – This is a customer, vendor or just a huge fan, but they are outwardly vocal in a positive way about your company.  They refer people to you frequently and are raving fans.

By establishing lifecycle stages, this allows you to see not only how many leads you’re generating, but how many are qualified.  Marketing should be aiming to generate more SQL type of leads.  Sales should be following up with all Leads and MQLs to determine whether or not they should be marked as SQLs.

2. Get Marketing Automation Installed

What is marketing automation you ask?  I wrote a super detailed post explaining the differences between Marketing Automation software, CRM and project management software.  That being said, marketing automation software gives you the tools you need to generate more leads with your website, nurture those leads and track them through the marketing funnel.  It’s a critical step in building your marketing and sales systems.

3. Buy a CRM and Actually Use It

Do you have a CRM yet?  Again, refer to the CRM article I mentioned above to make sure you don’t have a project management system pretending to be a CRM as well.  If not, this is the year to get one.  A CRM allows you to track all your leads in one place, set reminder tasks, and keep track of all your follow up activity.  A CRM is absolutely critical to your success in growing your business.

4. Double Your Lead Volume

Double my lead volume?  Really?  Yes, really.  I’ve been obsessed with growth for the last five years, and I ALWAYS underestimate how many leads it will take to hit my goals.  Plus, if you shoot for doubling your leads, and you end up only getting halfway there, is that going to be such a bad thing?

So, how can you double your lead volume?  Here’s a quick exercise to start with:

  1. Write down how many leads you generated last year.
  2. Look at which sources produced the most leads.
  3. Can you double down on your 2-3 activities that produced the most leads?
  4. Identify new areas to invest in:
    • Website marketing (blogging, search engine optimization, lead conversion, etc.)
    • Social media (Facebook, Houzz, etc.)
    • Pay per click (Google, Facebook, etc.)
    • Referral program
    • Open Houses/Remodel Tours

Once you’ve gone through this exercise, here’s what you should have decided:

  1. The marketing activities that you’ll continue to do (these produced the most leads last year)
  2. As a result of number 1 above, you want to determine how much more you can get out of the sources by spending either more time on them or more money on them.  This is the easiest move to make because you already know it works for you.  It produced for you last year.
  3. What marketing activities didn’t produce much or anything at all?  Cut them!
  4. What marketing activities can you add in that you didn’t do last year?

5. Double Your Follow-Up Activity

In addition to not having enough leads, the next problem usually lies in follow-up.  Do you call every lead that comes through your website?  Do you call them again when they don’t answer?  Do you call them again when they don’t answer again?

But Spencer, I don’t want to annoy them!  I left a voicemail once already.”

You know what?  They filled out a form on your website.  They are engaged to some degree, even if they are just researching.  If they gave you a legitimate phone number, it’s your duty to help them find what they need.  And if they need your services, it’s your duty to sell to them and give them what they want which is for a professional like you to transform their home.

Call.  Email.  Follow up.  You don’t have to be pushy, but you do have to follow up.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t want to grow in 2016, don’t worry about these things.  For all others, please consider the above seriously.  You have to invest in growth to grow; it won’t just happen for you.

We practice what we preach. Here’s what we at BuilderFunnel are looking to do this year to grow regarding the above items:

  1. Lifecycle Stages: already using them.
  2. Marketing Automation: installed it August of 2010 and have been using it ever since.
  3. CRM: installed in 2011, but switched to a new CRM provider in July of 2014.
  4. Double Leads: we’re looking to double our MQLs this year.
  5. Double Follow Up: we’re actually looking to quadruple our follow up based on our current lead volume and sales goals.

We grew by 25% last year and are looking to grow another 25% this year.  Its hard work to grow, but we feel it’s worth investing in. I hope you do, too.

If you have any questions or comments please share in the comments below. I love chatting with the savvy community here at Remodelers Advantage!