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.

5 Keys to Strategic Planning for Your Remodeling Business

It’s that time of year again — when we look back to see what worked and what didn’t for your business, the good decisions made and others you’d change. Did this year bring the success you’ve been building toward or was it a challenging year that fell short of your goals?  

But it’s also time to look forward. To figure out and where you’re headed and move you closer to your long-term goals. For this, we look to strategic planning. 

Strategic planning is the process organizations use to clarify the long-term direction of their companies, define a company’s mission and vision, set priorities, align the team, allocate resources, and translate those goals for the future into projects and budgets that can are implemented in the short term. It defines the work in the coming year that will get your organization to your destination in the years to come. 

I get the pleasure of working with companies by facilitating two-day strategic planning events for their remodeling companies. Based on those experiences, these are the five keys to good strategic planning to do now. 

No. 1 Involve the Whole Team 

Schedule your strategic planning event at a time your whole team can attend. Involving the whole team improves the process by having more input, broader discussions, and a better understanding of the process when it’s time for implementation.  

No. 2 The Right Setting 

Get out of your office. Hold the meeting off-site, at a location that’s comfortable and — if possible — inspirational. Participants need to be able to focus; away from distractions but also be in a place that inspires creative thought. You don’t have to go far, but you do want to get out of your own space. 

No. 3 Set Your Destination 

You can’t get to your destination if you don’t have a map. Start by defining where the company is going. Pick a point in the future (three or five years) and describe in detail your vision for the company: 

  • Your revenue goals 
  • The type of projects you’ll be doing 
  • What your role as the owner will be 
  • How the company structure will change to meet the revenue goals 

Be sure to get good input from everyone. The clearer you can paint that picture, the better the entire process will go. 

No. 4 The Current State: SWOT & KPI 

Describe in detail where the business is now. Start with a SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Look at this at both the company and department level. Talk about processes and areas for improvement. Make that conversation about processes, not people. Then, define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you’ll all use to measure operational improvement and the distance to your goals. 

No. 5 Budget and Plan for the Coming Year 

Finally, the goal of this meeting is to leave the process with an operating plan and a budget for the coming year. Set priorities for the team, detailing what role each member will play in the company’s success and how performance will be measured. Make a commitment to keep the team updated regularly throughout the year and avoid chasing new ideas and new projects that take the team away from the core mission.  

Follow these five steps to set your course, make strategic decisions, identify priorities, define roles, establish a budget, and build morale. If you do this well, you might just be setting the stage for the coming year to be the year you have been waiting for.

 

FREE WEBINAR: How Effective Remodeling Leaders Use Strategic Planning to Get Ahead

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
11:00am – 12:00pm ET

It’s that time of year… Looking forward to 2019 and setting goals, budgets and expectations. Join R/A Director of Consulting, Doug Howard, for a FREE WEBINAR as he walks you through how to set up that process within your organization. As you gather your team for your annual planning meeting, Doug will give you the tools and resources needed to make the most of your time.
CLICK HERE TO SAVE YOUR SEAT FOR THIS FREE WEBINAR

4 Ways to Battle Slippage Mindset in Production

Slippage! Wow, when you look at it from a production viewpoint it comes from everywhere! It’s a battle that all remodelers face on a daily basis; win the battle and see higher profits… lose the battle a few times and it can affect team morale, customer satisfaction and ultimately, the bottom line.

Sometimes it is just a mistake we make along the way, but in many instances it boils down to the way we think.

Mindset

One of the thought processes that leads to much of our slippage is what I call the “either/or” mentality.

A good example occurred just two weeks ago while I was working with a company and we were discussing lumberyard runs. One of the Lead Carpenters raised his hand and said something like “Do you want me to order the materials and then have to make the lumberyard run to return what I can’t use OR just go get what I need the first time?”

So, we had a discussion of all the alternatives including a different yard, order more than you need and pick out the bad and send it back, and working out a deal with the yard for better lumber.

Other places where this exists is in change orders and start of day. In many cases changes really do have to be dealt with quickly. The tendency is to believe that a change order is a slow methodical process therefore we do not have time to complete one and just move on. And we lose the income for that work.

With regards to start of day, some companies are still having the entire production team come in the office and get their assignment for the day. In discussing this everyone knows that it is a huge waste of time but they revert to the fear of chaos or lack of control thus continuing the problem.

The solution?

 

1. Face the Facts

Be willing to admit that there is a problem and the problem is part of your slippage. In some cases, and this helps me a great deal, do the math. Be realistic but also look at every cost you are taking on. For example, if we look at the scenario where everyone comes into the office for a meeting.

They start getting paid when they arrive, mostly by the hour so labor burden and benefits are adding up. You then pay for the drive time to the job. Once there, then they set up, losing vital production time and adding to the cost of the project.

2. Point Out the “Either/Or”

Go ahead and address that we are essentially only looking at two extremes. By doing this it helps us see the issue. Perhaps even do it graphically by writing one at the top of a white board or flip chart and the other at the bottom.

3. Brainstorm Other Solutions

Probably one of the biggest mistakes project and production managers make is to simply tell people what to do. This always leaves the option for excuses if it doesn’t work and then the ability to dismiss it since “you have never dealt with this”. Get the team together to brainstorm. By getting everyone involved several things happen. You eventually get to the best solutions.

You also get a variety of solutions. By doing this, person A may use idea D but person B likes and will actually use idea B. The people that do not believe “either/or”, will help convince those that do. There is nothing more powerful than peer influence. And finally, you can stay out of the bad guy role.

4. Always follow up

Just because we discussed it, agreed to change, and all go away happy, doesn’t mean that things will change. Because habits are hard to break, help each person figure out how they will do the change. If Person A is going to use idea D then what do they need to do to actually start using it.

Perhaps it is as simple as always having a pad of paper on site for notes. Or it may be more complex like setting aside planning on a daily basis. In general, if someone does not follow up most everyone will fall back into their old habits.

 

Summary

So, in dealing with slippage it is about not making mistakes either in sales or in production but it is also about seeing the problems and finding and implementing viable solutions.

What are some ways that you have minimized Slippage in your production environment or process? We would love to hear constructive advice and tips using the comments section below… or maybe a question that we can answer for you.
 

And Don’t miss The Tim Faller Show! A Podcast To Help You Improve The Bottom Line Through Production Training, with new episodes every Monday.

 

[Podcast] Episode 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

Click Here to Listen to Episode 18 >>

 

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.

 
 

Get LEAN! Make Your Processes Easier, Better, Faster, Cheaper

[Editor’s Note: After a very successful Masterclass on LEAN for Remodelers in April and a ton of positive feedback from our attendees, Roundtables members and consulting clients we wanted to resurrect this post on LEAN for PowerTips. As you will see the bottom of this page we will be holding another LEAN Masterclass in July.]

What if there were changes you could make to your business that would simultaneously improve customer service, enhance employee morale and increase profitability? Would that be something of interest to you as a remodeling business owner? LEAN is a method of process improvement designed to do all three of those with little or no investment in capital.

What is LEAN?

LEAN is a system of principles and practices aimed at continuous process improvement. It was born out of the Toyota Production System and was a common tool used in manufacturing for many years. Over the past 20 years, it has been recognized as a tool for improving any process and has found its way into government, healthcare and service industries, including the world of home remodeling.

Shigeo Shingo, one of the founding fathers of LEAN has said, “There are four purposes for improvement: easier, better, faster, cheaper. These four goals appear in order of priority.” The methods of LEAN include looking at systems from end to end, mapping them and then working to eliminate waste in those processes. In fact, LEAN has been described as the relentless pursuit to eliminate waste.

So What is Waste?

Essentially it is any step in a process that does not add value to the customer. It is all of the many things we do in order to get our work done that the customer does not see, care about and would not pay extra to get. There are eight wastes that are pursued in the LEAN process. Some of them include transportation (movement of product), motion (movement of people), defects and waiting.

Look at Your Process

In the remodeling world we have many processes. We have a sales process, a design process, production processes, accounting processes and many others. Inherent in our processes are waste that add no value to the customer, but they add frustrations to our staff and cost to our jobs, thus lowering profit.

Is it value added to the customer if we make four extra trips to the lumber yard? Is it value added to the customer if we install something incorrectly and then have to go back and fix it? Is it value added to the customer if we are stuck on a job waiting for a permit? Of course, that answer is NO! These extra steps and delays take time, incur cost, extend the length of jobs, frustrate staff, lower profits and lower customer satisfaction.

Get LEAN

This is the target of a lean effort. Map out a process, identify the waste, figure out how to eliminate the waste. Pursue easier, better, faster cheaper and get happier employees, more satisfied customers and increased profits.

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Masterclass: LEAN For Remodelers

If you would like to learn more about LEAN and how you can use it to improve processes within YOUR organization, click below for our next Masterclass on “Lean For Remodelers” which will be a 2-day course held here at our offices in Baltimore. We will cap this class at 12 attendees so make sure you register today if you are interested, it will likely fill up quickly!

 

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[Podcast] Episode 16: Keys to Developing an Impactful Leadership Team with Bob Gallagher

Can you define a good Leader vs. a good Manager? Are they the same, similar or completely different? How can having a strong leadership team affect the success or your business?

In Episode 16 Victoria and Mark welcome Bob Gallagher to the show to discuss how building the leadership team at Sun Design Remodeling Specialists has helped grow their business into one of the most successful firms in the Washington DC / Northern Virginia area.

Over the past 30 years, Bob has been instrumental in building and improving Sun Design’s operational procedures in all departments. Bob has been very involved in the industry, through his involvement in NARI, and has received four President’s awards and two Image awards from NARI National, as well as the Hall of Fame Award from the local NARI Metro DC Chapter.

Bob and his partner, Craig Durosko, are members of a Mentor-level Roundtables Group where they work with other large volume, successful firms from across the country.

Victoria, Mark and Bob explore the issue of not only identifying and hiring good leaders, but how to assemble them into a strong team that is focused primarily on making improvements within a company’s standards, systems and day-to-day operations.

Included in this episode:

  • Defining Leader vs. Manager – Improvements vs. Maintenance
  • Identifying leadership qualities, behaviors, etc.
  • Establishing goals for the team
  • Measuring the ongoing impact and success of the team
  • Building trust and working efficiently with open communication within the team
  • Facing challenges in building and training the team
  • Managing roles and personalities within the team
  • Developing leadership qualities into members of the team

Great insight from a very successful thought-leader among the remodeling industry… Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about building the team that will help lead your company to the next level.
 

Click Here to Listen to Episode 16 >>

If you would like to learn more about Sun Design Remodeling Specialists you can visit their website: https://www.sundesigninc.com/

 

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[Podcast] Episode 15: Creating a Culture of Empowerment with Geoff Graham

Building a strong team can be a challenge to any business owner and creating a culture where employees feel trusted and empowered can be even more difficult.

In Episode 15, Victoria and Mark speak with Geoff Graham, Founder and CEO of GuildQuality, an award-winning firm based in Atlanta, GA.

More than 2,500 home builders, remodelers and residential construction firms currently rely on GuildQuality’s survey, measurement and marketing tools and they have recently been named a “Best Place to Work” in Atlanta for the 6th year in a row.

Geoff Graham started GuildQuality back in 2002 and now employs more than 100 team members, both full and part-time. Geoff’s firm has established a culture of empowerment, which starts as soon as an employee accepts a position with the growing firm.

Victoria, Mark and Geoff explore more about how to build a culture of empowerment, including:

  • Allowing the team to work remotely if needed
  • Building trust from the moment they join the company
  • Hiring and onboarding the right team members to support the culture
  • Sharing goals, objectives and results that are openly communicated
  • Identifying and measuring key metrics
  • Sharing financial statements and company performance metrics with the team
  • Offering a results-based vacation and leave policies

A great episode for any business owner looking to strengthen and improve their company’s structure and culture.

 

Click Here to Listen to Episode 15 >>

 
If you would like to learn more about GuildQuality, you can visit their website: https://www.guildquality.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.

[Podcast] Episode 14: Exploring the Seven Truths with Peter DiGiammarino

In episode 14, Victoria and Mark change gears and welcome a well-known author, professor and CEO, Peter DiGiammarino, to the show.

Peter grew up in the Boston area and after attending University of Massachusetts and then MIT, he served in executive leadership roles for more than 30 years.

Peter is an adjunct professor in the Organization Development program at the University of San Francisco School of Management and Golden Gate University School of Business.

Peter authored, Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World, and uses the workbook to teach a course he developed on Organization Analysis and Strategy. Peter currently serves on several boards and advises leaders as CEO of IntelliVen. He is based in San Francisco, California.

Victoria, Mark and Peter walk through some of the concepts of “The Seven Truths” and Peter provides some insight on his educational and professional achievements that helped him develop the approach that he covers in his book.

This episode covers:

  • Determining what you provide, to whom you provide it and why they buy it from you
  • Creating demand for what you are selling
  • Identifying skills needed to grow your business
  • How to deploy strengths within your team to achieve a common goal
  • Types of leaders and being conscious of what type of leader you want to be
  • When and how to seek outside perspectives (advisors, peer groups, etc.)
  • And more…

Peter does a great job with the “Lightning Round” and “Five Words of Wisdom” segments. Some great insight and advice shared by an organizational development thought-leader. Enjoy!

Click Here to Listen to Episode 14 >>

 

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.

[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 >>

 

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[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 >>

 

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