Can Your Employees Survive a Shipwreck?

Have you ever played one of those educational survivor games? They always start with a crisis (like a plane crash or a shipwreck) that leaves you and your team with only your problem-solving skills and a motley array of items to survive.

If you haven’t been part of a game like this, you should. There are many benefits to having your team work through this exercise, and I’ll give you all the juicy details in this week’s episode of PowerTips TV!

What about you?

Have you tried this exercise with your team? How did it turn out? I’d love to know! Tell me about it in the comments below!

8 Tips to Running a PRODUCTIVE Meeting

Parking lots, traffic lights, scribes and soapboxes. Do you know what these four things have in common? If you didn’t say “meetings” then this is a must-see episode of PowerTips TV!

Whether you have two employees or 200, meetings are a must-do component to operating a successful remodeling company. But it takes more than just gathering everyone in a room to run a productive meeting.

Learn 8 keys to running a meeting that actually gets things done!

How about you?

I want to hear about your meetings! What works? What doesn’t work? What things do you do that I haven’t mentioned? I look forward to reading your comments below!

Two bonus takeaways from this week’s episode

1. A must read book

Here’s the book Victoria Recommends. It’s a fast read and full of great information:

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

2. Free Download: Weekly Meeting Agenda

Victoria wanted you to have a sample agenda to help you run more efficient and productive meetings. Whether you use it as-is or put your own special twist to the agenda, we hope this template helps!

Free Agenda Download



Stop Profit Leaks Now with Effective Production Meetings

Obviously, your company’s success in producing the job has a huge impact on the entire company. Yes, the jobs have to be sold, designed, estimated – but if they aren’t produced on time and on budget with a delighted client, all of your previous efforts are for naught.

During my 20-plus years in this business, I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of dollars slip away from a company because of disorganization or lack of overview in the production department. Members of the Remodelers Advantage community know that we tolerate slippage of up to 2%. Any more than that and we expect the member to take action to improve.

One of the most important tools to help your production employees succeed is regular production meetings. While there are a variety of formats for these meetings, creating the opportunity to review projects, solve problems, brainstorm solutions, and create action plans is a must.

While I prefer weekly production meetings, some remodelers are successful with a bi-weekly schedule. One remodeler holds his production meeting each Friday at 2:00 pm. This allows his field employees to clean up the site for the weekend and leave the job at the end of the day.

One of the best formats for the weekly meeting is to include all of the Lead Carpenters in the meeting at the same time. A pro to this approach is that all of the leads can learn from one another as the jobs are being discussed. In some companies, the Production Manager will meet with each Lead independently to review only the job(s) for which the particular lead is responsible. (I prefer method 1.)

During these meetings, the goal is to review each individual job to make sure it is on target to meet profitability, schedule and customer satisfaction goals. This means that up-to-date job cost reports are essential! The office manager should produce the current job cost reports each week and provide them to the lead carpenters 1-2 days in advance of the Production Meeting. This allows them to review the details, correct mistakes, and be prepared for ideas on improving results.

The Lead should be the person to present the detail of the job because this is a major learning opportunity. He/she might not catch all of the important details the first few times so the Production Manager should be ready to ask questions to pull out the particulars.

During these meetings, it’s usually apparent if a project is going over schedule, had unexpected costs or is leaving the client less than happy. If this is the case, now is the time to create an action plan to fix the problems – not the time to shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh well.”

The reason you are holding these production meetings is to learn about the issues early, while there is still time to pull the project back on track. It makes no sense to learn about a problem and not take action. Nor does it make sense to skip the weekly or bi-weekly meetings altogether, learning at the end of the project that you lost money, at a time when you can’t do a darned thing about it.

If you’ve lost money due to slippage, learn how to eliminate the problem and grow your profits, here are some ideas:

  1. Invest in our Roundtables™ Peer Group for Production Managers. Your PM will join a group of peers from non-competing companies to drill down into the inner workings of a production department. Led by production expert, Tim Faller.
  2. Join Remodelers Advantage University for access to dozens of forms, checklists, procedures that will help you harness your team for dramatically increased production efficiency.
  3. Work with a Remodelers Advantage Business Coach for one-on-one insights that will help you quickly identify production problems and create action plans for quick results.

Ramping Up Production Efficiency

Production is really where the rubber meets the road. The people involved in production are a huge part of the customer experience —  and it’s also where your money is won or lost.

Three Major Goals of the Production Department Include:

  • Complete jobs on time,
  • Within budget,
  • Resulting in a highly satisfied client

This is a challenging list of goals but when they are accomplished, life is beautiful! Clients are happy and send referrals. You are happy because the company made money, your team is happy because they accomplished a difficult goal.

Tips to A Successful Production Department:

1. Hire Great People for the Department.

Depending on the market, it can be a challenge to find talented production members. I caution you, however, that even if it’s tough and takes time, don’t rush your decision. These front line workers are too important to the company. Use all of the tools at your disposal to spread the word and then vet each candidate carefully. I always recommend hiring the best person you can find. The stumbling block for some remodeling company owners is the fact that great people demand higher compensation! Yes, they do and that’s because they earn it by delivering better results more efficiently, earning money for the company each step of the way. You’ll never grow into a top company if you will settle for mediocrity in your people because you’re afraid to spend the money on greatness.

If you’d like to review a sample job description for a Production Manager, click here.

2. Set Expectations Clearly.

Expectations start with the job description you’ve created for each position. Let’s focus on the Production Manager. The person in this role typically has the most influence on the results of any job. One of the common problems I see is that the people in these positions are not meeting their responsibilities — possibly because they don’t have the expertise, the owner won’t let them do their job, communication within the company is weak or non-existent or they have never understood what their goals are.

If you have a production manager who is not living up to expectations, take an hour or two and review or write job descriptions. Include a list of their responsibilities such as “Produce all jobs to meet stated Gross Profit Margin.” Getting everyone on the same page will be very helpful as you move forward.

3. Monitor Progress Regularly and Consistently.

This monitoring includes regular meetings with the production team (we recommend weekly meetings) and regular productivity reports (job cost reports produced weekly as well) that you and the Production Manager or Lead Carpenter will use to check estimated costs against actual costs as the job progresses.

Isn’t it time you joined the industry’s top peer group for motivated remodeling company owners-Remodelers Advantage Roundtables™? Our members see higher profits, lower turnover, fewer work hours, and a better life than non-member peers. No matter where you are in your career, we have a program to help you see better results from your company.

Wondering where to start? Give us a call for a no-obligation consultation with one of our experts who will help you determine if the Roundtables™ Peer Groups are right for you.

A Key To Accountability — Company Meetings


You probably know that industry guru and long-time Remodeling columnist, Linda Case, is the founder of Remodelers Advantage. We were recently talking about the importance of company meetings and below, she shares some thoughts with you.


Are they time-wasters, money-squanderers, gripe sessions, and ill-planned interruptions to actually getting work done?  That’s what many remodelers think.  Consequently, they don’t hold formal meetings even in multi-million dollar companies.

I disagree.  Well-run meetings harness your team to achieve goals and to be accountable for results in their day-to-day roles.  They allow an owner to communicate a uniform message efficiently and build future leaders for the company.

Picture such a meeting.  It’s the weekly Key Management Team Meeting. It is always held Tuesday’s at 8am.  It includes the company owner, the office manager, the sales manager, and the production manager.  Everyone has learned to be there on time because they know the meeting will start right at 8 and they will be embarrassed to walk in late.  They know that it will end by 9:30 and have scheduled their day accordingly.  There are no interruptions for answering phone calls, etc. unless it is a true emergency.  The meeting is facilitated by the company owner working from a written agenda.  But if the company owner is on vacation, the meeting is run by one of the key team.

The office manager has e-mailed the agenda to everyone before the meeting.  She compiles it by checking with each attendee as to whether they have an issue they want to discuss, how much time should be allotted to that issue and how high a priority it is (just in case there is too much on the agenda.)  She arranges the agenda with departmental reports first, ongoing project reports next (they are working on streamlining the handoff from sales to production and each attendee has some “homework” they’ve agreed to bring to the next meeting), and new issues last.

She also makes sure the Flash Report – a concise one page report with key data – has been compiled and copied for each attendee.  It includes leads taken in, sales made, jobs closed, client evaluation scores received, and much more.  The Key Team finds that having this information pre-packaged for the meeting saves considerable time and keeps them focused on the important numbers they want to track.

Once a month, analyzing the latest P & L and Balance Sheet is on the agenda as well as reviewing the company Budget to Actual report.  This meeting is two hours long because the Key Team’s goal for the year is to get better educated about how to read financials and use the information they provide to manage better.  To train themselves, they read and discuss a chapter in a book on financial management for non-financial people and their friendly neighborhood accountant comes in to answer questions and teach a short lesson.

As the meeting progresses, the office manager takes minutes of what has been agreed upon, who will do what by when.  These minutes will be e-mailed to all attendees and the agreements of what will be done by the next meeting are rolled forward into that new agenda.

The facilitator keeps the meeting on task and time and will ask participants who might have gotten off track to work on that later outside the meeting.  Everyone leaves the meeting updated on the state of the entire company, and with a sense of accomplishment that they are invested in the company’s success and that the company is continuously improving.

Yes, this is the picture of the perfect meeting!  But the point is that great meetings don’t just happen – they are the result of organization and planning.  So if your meetings are floundering, make them productive with these seven tools:

  • A clear purpose
  • Guidelines for behavior
  • Written agenda
  • Defined time frame
  • Facilitator
  • Minutes
  • Flash Report – Pre-meeting information gathering

And don’t forget to throw in some fun, celebration, and recognition.  They will make good meetings even better.

Thanks, Linda.  We know that regular meetings are one of the best ways to save time. In fact, since we started following the techniques shared in Death by Meeting by Patrick Lincioni, it’s made a dramatic difference in our efficiency and productivity. It will do the same for you. Try it for at least three months. I guarantee you won’t go back.