Stop Wasting Time on Bad Leads (but be nice!)

A couple of weeks ago, at the Master Your Remodeling Business Workshop, one of the attendees asked me how he could politely turn away unqualified leads via email. Apparently, he’s been getting many emails from people that either aren’t in his service area, want a service he doesn’t provide, or don’t have a realistic budget.

Whatever the case, my first piece of advice was for him to reevaluate his website and his overall marketing messages. If he’s regularly attracting the wrong prospect, then he has a fundamental issue with his brand image.

That being said, there is no way to avoid all possibility of getting the wrong type of lead inquiry. So having a polite way to turn away the misinformed prospect is a good idea.

Now, I don’t have this exact problem myself, (and we were standing around at the networking dinner), so I didn’t rattle off an eloquent email right then and there; however, I can relate to this problem.

I have a number of redundant emails that hit my inbox to which I need to respond, so having templates available saves me a lot of time.

Here’s a sample of the requests I get every month:

  • Someone wanting to submit a blog post to PowerTips (unsolicited)
  • Someone wanting to submit a blog post to PowerTips (from a friend)
  • Someone that wants me to write a blog post for them
  • Someone that wants to sell me marketing software (unsolicited)
  • SEO company that wants to sell me their services (unsolicited)
  • And so on…

Obviously, there are times where the email is just straight up spam, in which case I’ll add the sender to my blacklist and delete the email without a reply.

But there are also plenty of instances where I will want to be professional and extend the courtesy of a response, even if it is to say simply “no.”

So I created templated responses for these common inbox requests, and I entered them as an email signature in my Outlook Email:

Email Signatures

THAT’S RIGHT! There’s no law that says that the signature box must only contain a signature! 

Here’s an example of the template I send to unsolicited guest blog submissions:

Hi [Name],

Thank you for your interest in contributing to PowerTips! It’s an honor that you would want to be associated with our humble publication.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be able to use your submission. We receive dozens of requests every month, and I simply can’t accommodate them all. When I am able to use a guest submission, I offer it to our community members first.

Thank you again for your interest. I wish you all the best in your blogging endeavors!

Warm regards,

I get many of these requests every month. Having this template is a huge time-saver.

As you can see, this method works great for politely replying to all of your redundant emails; be them unqualified leads, requests for employment or any number of other time-wasters that are hitting your inbox.

How to Combat the Labor Shortage

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I talk to dozens of remodelers each week and one of the most common concerns I hear these days is, “I’m trying to hire more people and we’re not finding anyone.”

Well, unfortunately, this situation isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, experts predict that high employment in the construction industry will be around for years, so it’s time to start creating a strategy that will help you keep production going and quality levels high.

I’ve discovered that there are ways to build a workforce that can handle the growing labor demand and in this week’s episode, I’ll share the four main keys to doing it.

What about you?

Do you have any advice for R.A. Nation? Share your knowledge in the comments below!


Reducing Your Need to Hire by Increasing Efficiency!

Business owners might sometimes feel they need to hire more workers to meet the steady flow of work that is coming in and because they do not want to lose projects, they look to take on more employees. However, you can meet the demands by following some simple guidelines about how to increase efficiency and meet your goals.

Here are nine practical ideas that will allow you to streamline the work done by your employees, thereby letting each employee leverage more volume. The net effect is a more efficient operation with less need for new employees.

  • At least yearly, hold brainstorming sessions with your staff to review all procedures. Focus on streamline. What work, forms, overlapping procedures can be eliminated from the company?
  • Outsource more both to freelancers for office work or subcontractors for production work. One remodeler even outsourced project design to a designer in Canada!
  • Are there labor saving tools, equipment, technology, communications that would free up time for yourself, your office, or field staff? Save an hour here and an hour there and soon you won’t have to hire another person.
  • Check with your suppliers for products they will install (i.e. windows, fireplace units, siding) or products that can save you in-house time (pre-primed moldings).. Use their labor instead of yours and benefit from the expertise they have in doing one task really well.
  • Check with subs to see if there are additional functions they can take over.
  • Have your own carpenters? Keep them but consider subbing large jobs such as decks, siding, insulation, drywall and roofing which can be economical to outsource.
  • Are your field personnel equipped with state-of-the-art labor-saving tools and equipment? If you have 10 field employees and can save 20 minutes a day for each, that’s 1000 minutes a week or 867 hours a year. That’s 867 hours you don’t need or 867 hours you can sell profitably to another client. One remodeler keeps a stocked trailer on every job site. It’s good looking and well signed but it also saves time and running for materials.
  • Increased training for your field personnel will save time in installations. Check with your in-house expertise, manufacturers, subs and suppliers for help in developing short training sessions.
  • Develop a cross-department team to research ways to reduce in-house work.

Does Your Company Have the Bench Strength You Need?

Bench Strength — Definition: The competence and number of employees ready to fill vacant leadership and other positions.

Do you have employees in the wings to take on more leadership if the business needs it? This need could develop because the company has grown and needs additional skilled managers . . . or because an existing key manager leaves the business, taking his or her talent and skills with them.

Unless you prepare in advance, either one of these scenarios could see you scrambling for new employees – a condition that inevitably costs valuable time and money. Most important, if you hire out of desperation, you might end up paying more than fair value for your new staff person, or hiring the wrong person—triggering another exit and even more distraction.

The best way to avoid this unhappy scenario is to build bench strength with smart, thoughtful hiring, and a plan to grow replacements from within.

So let’s start.

Ask yourself these questions:

• What is the financial cost involved in hiring a replacement for a key position? Some studies say up to 15X the annual salary of the position.

• What is the loss-of-productivity cost? This can be huge as it affects the entire company as a number of staff members are forced to shift focus to hiring.

• What effects do these costs have on your business and on your remaining key players? Everyone works harder to cover, getting disgruntled and unhappy.

• How will you find this new teammate? How much time will it take? Depending on the process used, expect to invest 100 hours or more between recruiting, reviewing information, interviewing, and onboarding.

I think it’s clear that developing a plan to increase bench strength in advance is well worth the effort.

First, assess your current organizational lineup to see if you have employees that have the potential to move to advanced positions in the future. This is especially important for the roles that are the most difficult to fill like Production Manager or a top salesperson. Start with the positions that have a deep impact on the business and would be the most difficult to do without. Especially for these key positions, you should have an understudy in the wings. Not sure who on your team has the potential? Ask. Talk about their goals. During these discussions, you’ll quickly identify those who are ambitious and want to excel. Also, look for the “energy generators.” These people who bring vigor to the table. They will fuel you and each other.

Second, review job descriptions. Clearly defined positions are most crucial when the cost of replacing someone is especially high, such as leaders and key management personnel. Some of the skills and traits required to lead may only develop fully over time; and during a crisis you don’t have time to wait.

Third, hire smart. Picking your team is 90 percent of the battle. Know what skills and experiences different positions require and use it to find the best people. Also, think ahead and make sure that everyone you hire has the potential for advancement.

Fouth, train, train, train. Help your team members get ahead. Give them the opportunity to take on more responsibility and learn new aspects of positions within the company.

For example, do your lead carpenters have an opportunity to learn scheduling? Is the Production Coordinator learning the basics of estimating? Are you teaching the entire team how to decipher financial and understand how to generate profits?

This type of ongoing training will help individuals be ready to move up when you need them. Another benefit is this: As the rest of the staff sees a team member move up, they’ll get excited about the opportunities that exists for them as well and this means retaining your talent far longer than in the past.

Building bench strength is a positive move for the company as well as for each individual on the team.

Boost Your Brain: 5 Tips for Brainy Success at Work

One organ in your body dictates much of your behavior and ultimate success at work. The activities of this organ occur at a level of which you are not even consciously aware.

It’s your brain! While phrases like, “Use your brain!” or “Think outside the box!” are casually tossed around in the workplace every day, we take for granted that our brain can function precisely how we want it to, when we want it to, regardless of how we treat it. There are concrete steps we, as individuals, and as corporations and businesses, can take to optimize the functioning of the brain.

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You Want Better Results? Top Performers are A Key!

When you think of your company and how it’s doing today, you have a picture in your mind of what you want it to look like tomorrow. Whether that picture shows additional employees, a bigger building or more efficient systems, one thing is constant; it is something better than what exists today. Making that progression towards bigger and better things can be easier and happen faster if your employees are efficient and engaged with the vision. When you see a winning team, most, if not all members are A players.

While many people know what the NBA All-Stars are, many don’t know that there is something called an All-NBA team. There are no bench-warmers on the All-NBA teams. If you are unfamiliar, the All-NBA league is made up of three teams, each having five members. Two forwards, one center, and two guards that are the top players in the NBA. The theory is if these teams played they would win against any other combination of five players based on their individual talents. What does this mean in relation to your organization? The best way to progress to the top of the business food chain is with the highest performing employees available.

Top performers, or A players, have so much to offer that it’s a wonder how countless organizations settle for Bs or even Cs. Because of the ability for an A player to self manage and problem solve, top performers relieve you from having to micro-manage, allowing you to spend your time on activities that will drive business in the door.

Top performers are also more efficient at their job, requiring fewer resources for maximum output. This high level of efficiency allows funds to be freed up and spent elsewhere. The immediate benefits associated with high performing employees alone are enough reason to begin making the transition away from C players.

One way to ensure your organization is hiring top performers is to use pre-employment assessments as part of a job matching system to establish whether or not the potential employee is a good fit with the job. A good fit generally leads to high performance!

Employees who are already a part of the team will continue to grow with your organization and develop new skills which may progress them into matching a different job. As a result of this, it is important to create a line of succession and prepare your employees with a career path. Not only will they have a promotion to work towards, but they can also begin to cultivate their leadership skills. This starts to pave a secure path for the organization’s future, allowing all staff to feel confident about the progression planned by management. And if you ever hope to sell your business — or be able to work limited hours — get started on building this internal bench strength now!

When creating ways to progress a company, developing top performers might have been on the top of your list – and if it wasn’t, it should be now. What most likely has not come to mind is the happiness of employees. It is essential to keep your employees pleased with your business and each other. Having an employee relations committee that coordinates a once a month luncheon, event, or health and wellness initiative can help employees connect on another level other than business.

The more pleased your employees are with your company, the more that reflects on your brand, and the more positive publicity is generated.   Plus, happy and engaged A players attract other A players!

What’s not to like??

If you’d like to learn how pre-employment assessments, or our hiring service Candidate Matching, can help you find your A players, give us a call today at 301-490-5620 or visit our web site at This could be just what your company needs to drive you to a higher level of success!