Few remodeling company owners spend enough time planning for their company’s future. Many are so busy running the business that they can’t imaging taking time away to strategize about how they will move forward – so they simply don’t’. Others don’t see the importance of planning so they don’t make it a business priority.
Steve Barkhouse, president of Amsted Construction Limited, a multi-million dollar renovation company in Stittsville, Ontario, feels this is a major mistake. “Early on, we realized that we never seemed to have time to properly plan for the future. We had a business plan. . . but that was mainly created for the banks and we never looked at it. We were getting frustrated because we weren’t doing the kind of planning we really wanted to so. So we began our Annual [company] Retreats.”
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“Each year, my fellow company owners and I – there are three of us—leave the office for several days with the sole intention of focusing on the company,” he said. “Our goal is to celebrate recent past accomplishments and then drill down into each area of our business in turn. We want to find better ways to do what we do. . . and think about where we want to be in the future.
Barkhouse says, “It’s important that the location be away from the office so that we have clear heads and can’t hear the phones ringing in the background. The environment helps us be creative and get re-energized so hold the retreat in a location that’s nice. . . a resort, a nice hotel, heck, one year we went to Cuba! Once there, we have a meeting room with a projector and screen so that everyone can see the materials together. And then, we get to work.”
Before the retreat, each owner spends hours preparing. For Barkhouse, this means creating a preliminary budget for the coming year, studying the status of previous business improvement initiatives, reviewing performance metrics for staff, and more. Each topic to be addressed is added to an agenda. “We look at every part of the company from staff to technology, from marketing to the physical offices.
“When we first started the retreats, we were creating some wonderful business plans. At one point, we had an a-ha moment and realized that we could reach these business goals. . .but we wouldn’t be successful because we would have still missed hitting our personal goals,” says Barkhouse. So each owner had an assignment to build a personal plan for themselves. “One of the first steps in a personal plan was to determine the compensation we each needed. So we started at the bottom and worked our way up,” Barkhouse comments. “We added up all of our daily expenses, our needs for retirement savings, college savings, and the additional income that we wanted to live a nice lifestyle. Then we all came back together knowing what dollars the company had to produce to help each of us reach our personal goals.”
“We leave these meetings feeling rejuvenated, energized and with a clarity of purpose that helps us stay focused on the priorities throughout the year,” Barkhouse says. “We know what we have to do, we’re all in agreement and we’re fired up to get back to the office and get going.” And for Amsted Construction Limited, the proof is in the pudding. The company has grown each year, creating a long list of happy clients, building a strong team of accomplished staff members, and has delivered above average profits to the bottom line. Barkhouse says, “Think about it. No matter what you look at – even if it’s just cleaning up the job site – if you take the time to analyze what you do right now, think about how to improve results, and brainstorming ideas, I guarantee that you’ll find a more efficient, more effective way to clean the job site. Spending time ON your business pays off with a fantastic return.”
Steve Barkhouse and his partner, Kirk Haw are members of Remodelers Advantage Roundtables™, a peer group program for large volume renovators. They are members of the Mentor 3 Group, one of the four Roundtables™ Groups exclusively serving high-performing renovation companies. Post Updated 4/21/15.
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I spoke to 19 remodelers last week and they all said they’re either working their tails’ off for too little money, losing money on projects or missing family time due to demands from the business.
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