[Podcast] Episode 17: Building a Sustainable Family Business with Wayne Rivers

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, roughly 90% of U.S. businesses are family-owned and the Remodeling industry is well represented by closely-held firms, typically started by a founder and then handed down through multiple generations.

Family-owned businesses often run into obstacles and challenges, usually driven by “soft issues” such as communication, emotions, past conflicts, bringing spouses into the business, etc. However, what many of these struggling firms lack is a common vision or mission from a business perspective.

In Episode 17, Victoria and Mark welcome Wayne Rivers, President of The Family Business Institute, to the show to discuss more about his unique approach in working with these types of businesses.

Wayne’s approach is very different and he talks about his tried and proven, step-by-step strategic planning method for maximizing BOTH the success of a business AND their family harmony.

Wayne is a well-known thought-leader, speaker and author on the subject of family-owned businesses; his latest book is Our Family Business Crisis: and How It Made Us Stronger. Wayne is a Wall Street Journal Expert Panelist and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and the Retirement Living Network.

Victoria, Mark and Wayne discuss the Institute’s unique way of working with their clients; topics include:

  • Identifying reasons why family-owned business struggle
  • Transitioning from one generation to the next
  • The importance of the founder establishing vision early and often
  • The dangers of working AT the business instead of working ON the business
  • “The Magic Bullet” – Business planning methodology and subsequent positive side-effects
  • Going in through the “business door” vs. “family door” when dealing with conflict
  • Dealing with and resolving “soft issues” families face when working together
  • Describing a few steps in the Institute’s 10 step process of working with businesses
  • And more…

A great episode regardless of whether your company is family-owned or not. Many of the concepts discussed about business planning methodology will apply to any business, regardless of ownership structure.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 17 >>

We loved having Wayne as a guest… and we’re even more excited to have him as a featured speaker at the 2018 Remodelers Summit in New Orleans in September.

If you are interested in working with Wayne, his Information is below:

Wayne Rivers
President, Co-Founder
The Family Business Institute
4050 Wake Forest Rd, Ste 110
Raleigh, NC 27609
Website: www.FamilyBusinessInstitute.com

Work/Life Balance: 3 Ways to Stop Staying Late at Work

It’s a pillar of our mission here at Remodelers Advantage… It’s a focus of many discussions at our Roundtables meetings… Work/Life Balance.

Building a successful, profitable business but keeping an eye on how we live our life and being there for our families. Nothing can be more of a red flag than habitually staying late at work. Missing family time… missing your kid’s activities or time with your spouse… or simply time away from the office to take a breath.

A recent article in Fast Company by Elizabeth Grace Saunders caught my eye and had a few great tips on ways to keep your time at work under your control.

1. Setting Fake Deadlines & Planning Your Day

Think of it as setting your alarm clock ahead ten minutes so you are never late… As Saunders points out, if you have a report due on Friday, set the deadline for Wednesday and if you can’t get it knocked out, or something comes up, you have a few extra days to finish it without staying past 5 to knock it out.

Take a look at your daily to-do list and identify the tasks that you are more likely to try to tackle at the end of the day, or even into the evening… Do those first. Get them done so they aren’t even there when it’s time to call it a day.

2. “Small Tasks Only” Time

Set aside time during the day to knock out small, administrative tasks such as e-mail or submitting reports… those tasks that you might put off until the end of the day that will keep you there once you realize that you’ve run out of time. Saunders suggests blocking off two slots, one in the morning and one later in the day, perhaps after lunch?

3. Establish a Departure Routine

This is a great one as it is about establishing predictable behavior. Setting an alarm 30 minutes before your goal departure time and establish a routine of packing things up, shutting down (& saving) work and getting those end-of-the-day discussions out of the way so you are walking out the door and heading home.

It’s okay if work demands an extra hour or two from time to time.. that’s the nature of running a business. However, staying late on a regular basis can be addictive and destructive not only to your business but to your health as well.

How do you do it?

You owe it to your employees and your family to always be at your best, whether at work or at home. If you don’t use these three tips above, come up with your own. And let us know… What are some ways that you are able to achieve work/life balance? Any constructive tips or feedback in the comments below would be great!

4 HR Mistakes That May Come Back to Bite You

As your remodeling business grows, you will no doubt be faced with issues along the way. We hear from many of our Roundtables members that HR issues can be a huge obstacle to growth and the day-to-day running of their respective businesses.

Adding personnel quickly to meet demand and then attempting to manage the growing team can lead to costly mistakes along the way. As a business entity, you are susceptible to penalties and payments not only from random (and sometimes baseless) lawsuits but from local, state or federal government/tax organizations as well.

Whether you are penalized financially or not, the time and resources it takes to address a complaint or violation can sometimes be catastrophic to a growing business.

Here are 4 areas of your business to focus on when it comes to avoiding HR issues:

1. Recruiting and Hiring

Many of these issues stem from first contact with your business whether you hire the candidate or not.

  • Clear Job Descriptions – Not only help recruit the right candidates for your team to interview and consider but should also match the description you use internally should you decide to hire one of them for the position.
  • Avoiding Sensitive Questions – Inexperienced interviewers or perhaps those that are rushing through the process and getting too informal will typically ask questions that, if the candidate is not hired, may be the source of a complaint to a local government compliance office. Avoid questions regarding age, race, religion or disabilities. Something as casual as “Oh, I went to that college too, when did you graduate?” can lead to age-based issues down the road.

2. Clear Communication

From the interview process, to on-boarding to employment reviews, it’s vitally important to be consistent with communicating procedures and expectations with new and existing employees.

One key area that may break down is in the employee discipline or termination areas where proper documentation can literally save you should an issue arise down the road. Use clear and easy to understand language in the initial offer letter as well as any subsequent discipline or termination paperwork, getting signatures from the employee on everything along the way.

3. Lack of Policies & Procedures

Without a clear and well-written employee manual or handbook, employees lack direction in regard to conduct, attendance, work ethic and even how you expect them to dress in the office or out in the field.

Don’t just hand them the manual on their first day and forget it. Take the time to (1) walk through the manual to insure they understand it, (2) get them to sign the last page to confirm that have received and agree to the terms of employment and finally (3) keep it updated with new policies and procedures as they are released to your staff.

4. Terminations

Victoria does a great job covering this in a recent PowerTips TV Episode, How To Fire an Employee “The Right Way” but in summary, handling a termination calmly and professionally is the best route no matter how badly the employee has performed. Victoria’s advice was spot on and included:

  • Having clear and concise documentation
  • Including an additional person in the room during the meeting
  • Honest feedback, but no discussion
  • Treating the employee with dignity and respect on their way out

Share time!

What are some HR headaches that your remodeling business has experienced and how are you avoiding them now? Do any of these above ring a bell? Are there others we are missing? If so, Please share your experiences in the comments below.

[Podcast] Episode 04: OSHA Regulations You Need to Be Aware of as a Remodeling Business Owner with Ben Johnson

There are few organizations that can impact a US based remodeling business like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)… Maybe the IRS, but that’s another episode.

In Episode 4 of PowerTips Unscripted, Victoria and Mark speak with Ben Johnson about OSHA regulations, enforcement and how they can have a huge impact if not handled correctly.

Ben Johnson is an attorney at the Nilan Johnson Lewis law firm in Minneapolis and is well-versed in matters concerning OSHA. He represents companies involved in business litigation, including issues that commonly arise in the construction industry, like contract disputes, defect claims, and warranty disputes. He also specializes in defending companies in matters involving personal injuries, product liability, and workplace safety.

Victoria, Mark and Ben discuss matters such as:

  • Clarification of the 10-employee Rule
  • Building OSHA compliance planning & training into your employment documentation
  • Preparing you and your team if an OSHA Inspector arrives on one of your job sites
  • Which issues are the most commonly cited by OSHA Inspectors
  • How to be proactive by utilizing OSHA resources such as training & free consultations
  • New regulations concerning exposure to airborne Silica on the job site
  • The impact the new administration will have on OSHA regulations & enforcement

If you need to reach Ben, his contact information is:
Ben Johnson
Shareholder at Nilan Johnson Lewis PA
(612) 305-7693

OSHA Online Resources mentioned in this episode:

Click Here to Listen to Episode 4


Would love some feedback…

Any experience with OSHA regulations or enforcement? Please share your comments and advice below.

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

Small Business Cyber Threats – Are You at Risk?

Cyber Attacks and Threats only happen to the big guys, right? Banks, .COM Retailers, big corporations, right?

Not so fast…. You’re at risk more than ever and it’s only going to get worse…

The reality is that as the big companies spend millions on cyber security, the bad guys are now setting their sights on easier targets… YOU! The Small Business guy!

According to companies like Verizon and UPS Capital:

  • Almost two-thirds of all cyber attacks are now directed at small business & Individuals.
  • 61% of breaches hit small businesses last year, up from the previous year’s 53%.
  • Cyber attacks cost small businesses an average of between $84K – $148K per incident.
  • 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of an attack.
  • 90% of small business don’t use data protection for company & customer information.

So what can you do to protect yourself? I’m not going to get technical here but I CAN break it down to two things to start off with.

  1. Protect your Data – that means working with your “computer guy” – whether it’s someone on staff or a vendor – and get security software installed on ALL of your computers, phones, tablets.. yep those too! Anything that connects to the internet in the office or in the field.
  2. Back-up your Data – Whether it’s a portable drive that you take with you off-site every night, or perhaps an online service like Carbonite, Crashplan or even DropBox… that backs up your data so it can’t be attacked or held hostage.

There’s so much more to this but hopefully this has you paying attention to it… Talk with your IT person or vendor to make sure you are protected and work with your team to:

  • Be aware and informed
  • Know the policies and procedures that your team will be following
  • Know the warning signs to look for if hacked and the steps that need to be taken if it does happen to your business.

Anyone out there experience a hack or have you taken some additional precautions you want to share? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Thanks, and I’ll see you next Thursday.

Tim Faller’s 4 Ways to Improve Your Production Meetings

Is this the scenario for your production meetings? People file into the room in about the same order each week. They sit in the same chairs or lean against the wall in the same place. They sit quietly while you “discuss” information that you think they will appreciate.

Then you discuss each job and what is going on there. When you are done, you respectfully ask if there are any questions and you get a silence. Then everyone hurries out to do the things they love to do.

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be that way!

There are four things you can do to make production meetings better for everyone. For those of you that only have a meeting twice monthly or once per month, you may want to consider holding meetings more often, but these 4 tips still apply.

1. Use the time to say thank you or send out praise.

This is a universal truth, people respond to praise better than anything else. So just in case you haven’t thought about this, going through every job is probably not about praise but about fear for your team. Fear of being off budget, fear of being off schedule, fear of having to justify how the job is going.

So, save the project reviews for your weekly meetings with the on-site manager and use the production meeting to let someone share how they solved a problem that others may face in the future. Also, take time during the week to “catch someone doing good” then bring that up. Learn about the accomplishments of your team in their personal lives and mentions those.

2. Use the meetings to solve problems and develop the team.

Successful remodeling companies create an environment where employees feel that they are on a team that communicates openly and works together. So, discuss what problems the team faces. Be sure you listen and hear what the production team shares. Make a list. Then start working on the solutions as a group.

One company I worked with recently in Seattle has done a great job with this, however to get people talking, it took handing out a couple of gift cards to a local coffee shop. Once the team saw that the general manager was serious about making progress they have chipped in and have really been contributing. Rumor has it that no one is late for a meeting anymore.

3. Focus on forecasting rather than regrets.

One of the major challenges for all remodeling companies is getting job managers to look forward. So instead of having job managers coming to a meeting to talk about what has happened on past projects, have them come and share what is going to happen going forward.

This creates the chance for everyone to get an idea of what others are doing and collaborate on personnel, if needed. It also “forces” them to look ahead and be prepared instead of getting hung up on what has happened in the past.

4. Shake things up

As with almost anything in life, variety is the key. Do not do the same thing week after week. Mix it up. You should always be praising someone. But beyond that, use some meetings for systems building and problem solving. Use some for simply having a good time. Use some for forecasting and letting people share the good that is going on with their jobs.

For example, you can create a pattern by having the forecasting meeting on the second Wednesday of each month and the systems meeting on the third. But even with that mix it up, don’t run the forecasting meeting the same way each time.


With just a little bit of creativity and planning your meetings can be effective and helpful. What about you? Are your production meetings effective? What are some ways that you have made them stronger? We would love to hear how your team has improved your production meetings in the comments section below.

How To Fire an Employee “The Right Way”

Letting an employee go is one of the most unpleasant parts of owning or managing a business.

We all want our employees to be fantastic in their jobs… to be so wonderful that we never have to think about firing someone. But that’s not the real world, now is it?

In today’s episode we’re going to talk about how to fire someone the right way and give you a few tips and some advice to keep in mind.

Do you handle terminations differently? Is there something you do that helps things end on a positive note for both parties?

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.

PowerTips TV Throw-back Thursday: “Who’s With Me? How to Get Employee Buy-in”

Earlier this week Rosie Romero’s PowerTips article focused on establishing a system for your company and that process relies heavily on meeting with your staff and getting their subsequent buy-in on making these changes.

What happens if they don’t buy-in? How can you motivate change within your organization and get your team on board?

This week’s re-run episode of PowerTips TV brings back Victoria’s PTTV episode focused on getting buy-in from your team. Take a few minutes to watch this video and chime in with your thoughts and comments below.

Change is the key to business if you want better results, happier clients, and increased profits. But have you ever tried to make a change in the way you do business, only to have your employees ignore the new procedure? Or worse, sabotage it?

It’s not uncommon. Just because you may understand the need for change doesn’t mean your employees will. They’ll often fear it or fight it.

As the leader of your company, you must do more than simply dictate to the masses. You need to get buy-in from those you lead. And in this week’s episode, I’ll give you some tips on how to do it!

What about you?

Have you encountered problems in getting everyone to accept change? Did you resolve the problem? How? Please share in the comments below!

Man screaming with excitement!

5 Quick Steps to Build a Risk Management Plan

Risk is an inherent part of all business — but it can be greater for certain professions, like remodelers. You must manage risk and mitigate bad situations. Use these 5 quick steps to start building your risk management plan.

1. Identify business risks.

There are several types of business risks (preventable, strategic, external, etc.). Once you become familiar with the various types, especially within your specific industry, you’re in better shape to plan for them.

2. Determine your company’s vulnerability for each risk.

Ask yourself: what are the odds that this particular risk will happen to my business? And how much does the company stand to lose as a result?

3. Incorporate these components into the plan.

  • Practice active prevention
    • Design work areas to reduce the chance of an accident
    • Educate employees on safe work practices and use of equipment
    • Check and service equipment on a regular basis
  • Monitor operational processes
    • Guide behaviors

4. Acquire the right types of insurance.

Insurance is a central part of risk management. Key types of insurance are:

  • Contractor’s Liability Insurance
  • General Business Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation Insurance
  • State Disability Insurance

Contact your licensed insurance agent and/or attorney for advice on the type and amount of coverage that you should carry.

5. Monitor and adapt as needed.

  • Risk management plans should be reviewed and updated on regular basis
  • Review meetings should include the owners, department heads and (if warranted) a risk management consultant

Business Tip:  Many times, insurance companies will provide hands-on advice on mitigating new risks as they come along, with the goal of reducing payouts on claims.

Risk Management Watch-outs

Multiple studies have found that people overestimate their ability to influence events that, in fact, are heavily determined by chance. We tend to be overconfident about risk assessments and shortsighted in our assessment of the range of outcomes that could occur.

We often compound this problem with a confirmation bias, which drives us to favor information that supports our positions (typically successes) and suppress information that contradicts them (typically failures).

Risk management focuses on the negative rather than opportunities. It runs counter to the “can do” mentality of many contractors.

So don’t go too overboard on risk management. Often, it isn’t solved by establishing a long list of rules, but through appropriate job training, conversations, common sense, or just looking at a situation to determine the right thing to do.

The Most Overlooked Risk in Remodeling

One daily risk that remodelers typically overlook is jobsite dust. It’s more dangerous than you think.  Failing to manage jobsite dust poses health issues for BOTH your team and your clients. Not only that, but it also damages belongings & equipment, and can destroy your reputation.

You can eliminate this problem by making sure your company follows These Best Practices on how to contain jobsite dust.

So, grab a piece of paper, take a moment and begin the process by identifying your business risks right now!

Good Fences Make Good Partners

How do you release untapped potential in your company? What can be done to reduce errors and improve the productivity of all who work there? Why do some days just feel like it is one step forward and two steps back?

The lack of clear roles and boundaries. That’s the reason.

People end up doing other people’s work, often not taking it to completion. The sense in the company is nobody really knows what they and all the others are responsible for.

What are the solutions to these issues?

Clear Roles

Most companies have job descriptions. Most of the time the job descriptions are never looked at.

A good job description lays out an employee’s role in the company, clearly delineating what the position requires the employee to do, to focus on, and, almost more importantly, what is NOT the responsibility of the employee. The job description lays out what activities the employee should engage in. It should also lay out what the employee is to accomplish, with some simple, clear metrics to shoot for.

Just by working in your company to get very clear about what each position is responsible for and looking for any unintentional overlap you and your people start to feel more in control and a bit less crazed.

Clear Boundaries

As with job descriptions, most companies have an organization chart. This chart lays out the hierarchy in the company and the departments.

Classic departments in many businesses are Sales, Administration and Production.

What happens when the organization chart is not followed or respected?

Let’s look at a common scenario:

Fred, a lead carpenter, stops by the office to drop off some paperwork for his production manager. He sees that Amy, the head of Administration, is in the office and mentions to her that he wants to take time off. Amy acknowledges his request and puts it into the office calendar.

Fred’s production manager eventually finds out about this, but it’s too late. The new project that he planned to have Fred run is going to start when Fred will be away. He’ll now need to delay the project.

Following the hierarchy with all such communication prevents this type of thing from happening.

The solution is simple: If Fred wants time off, he must go to the production manager first for approval. If Fred asks Amy about time off she must ask Fred to talk to the production manager first.

Doing so respects the boundaries between the authority each position on the organization chart has. With the boundaries respected there are fewer “How did that happen?” conversations and everyone will feel more successful.

But isn’t this approach too rigid?

No. Like a fence, job descriptions and an organization chart set clear limits for each of the positions in the company. Doing so reduces misunderstandings and frustration.

Complete freedom is unmanageable. It is also not what your clients are buying.

Clarity and respect for limits create great potential for unimagined success. Construct your fences and find out.