Make Time for In-Office Training

Remodeling companies are missing a great opportunity for job training by limiting it to the work site. Yes, there does have to be on-site training to learn a skill, but it might take longer because everything is being taught on the job. 

Here are some ideas to make the most of training your field staff in your office.

Have a Set of Plans

Develop a set of plans that introduce the trainee to terminology and ideas you use in your business. These should be simple plans that introduce the basics. Label everything — headers, jacks, rafter cuts, rebar, footers, etc. Let your employees study and review them, and then have them fill in the blanks on another drawing with the labels left out. They’ll get familiar with terminology and locations, and they’ll need a lot less time from the trainer or a supervisor on the job site — giving everyone more time to get the work done.

Hit the Books

Build a list of books relevant to the remodeling business — and require your new employees to read them. Ask the employee to invest in buying these books — either in print or a Kindle edition for their own education. Let them have some skin in the game of growth. As with the plans, there must be some follow up in the form of testing, or at the least conversations to see that they’re learning while they read.

Don’t forget magazines, either in print or online. Buy the Journal of Light Construction. Get the free ones that are out there. Read them yourself and then make it a game to see if your team members can answer basic questions that you found that apply to your business. You could have them come to a company meeting and share what they’ve learned.

Make it a priority to do some part of your new employee training in the office — build it into the job schedule, and into their job reviews and as the basic competencies they have to master. That can include training on the devices and apps you want them to use in the field. New members of your field team will learn faster and better with a mix of in-office and job-site training.

Provide Education and Development to Attract and Keep Employees

The labor shortage in remodeling is a fact of life, and you’ve got to do more than just hand out a paycheck to keep your employees happy and engaged. One of the best ways to do that, according to a recent survey by the Harris Poll, is to create opportunities for your team members to learn and develop their skills.

A whopping 70 percent of employees surveyed say they’re at least somewhat likely to leave their present job to work for another company known for investing in workers’ education and development, according to the survey.

Three out of four respondents say they feel they’re on their own with their development. 

Put those two findings together, and it’s clear that keeping good employees depends on supporting their training and development, and providing a way to help them learn and add skills and knowledge.

Training on the Job

While some training can be done on-the-job and on the fly, having a more structured and repeatable process makes it easy for your team to understand and use it — and it can help you in finding the kind of workers you need.

At Harth Builders in Spring House, PA, a longtime Roundtables member, it’s called the ladder of opportunity, a step-by-step systematic approach to training and keeping good people. It’s a roadmap they’ve developed to show the potential growth to their field workers, and acts as a valuable recruiting tool. You can hear more about it on Episode 28 of The Tim Faller Show

You can also talk to your suppliers, manufacturer reps, and trade partners to set up short, specific, training opportunities for your production team.

Other Learning Opportunities

While taking someone off of a job site or out of the office during the kind of business surge remodelers are experiencing seems like it would put you behind, making that kind of investment in your people will pay dividends later. You’re more likely to keep that employee, and they’ll learn skills that will make jobs go faster, cut down on mistakes and wasted time, and ultimately make you more profitable.

Obviously, we here at Remodelers Advantage strongly believe in education and skills building in every facet of the remodeling industry. We’re not alone though — our friends at NARI have a variety of continuing education courses and certifications that will sharpen the skills of your field staff, as well as regional events.

Trade shows are filled with educational opportunities, and you don’t have to be out an arm and a leg on air fares and hotel costs — look for those regional events that may be a day trip. Even if there’s no conference program — or you’re not sure you want to pay extra — just being on the show floor and watching live demonstrations can teach new skills and techniques. It’s also a lower-cost way to dip your toe in and see what you and your team can learn.


Learn How to Grow Your Business & Build Your Team…

The theme at this Year’s Remodelers Summit is “The Art of Growth” and you will see by the featured speakers, detailed agenda and successful firms that have chosen to attend, that there is no better event to help you grow your business and build your team. This event is filling fast but there is still time to REGISTER and save $150.00 off the on-site registration. See you there!

Help for Beating the Labor Shortage

There’s a federal program that can help you get workers from outside the remodeling industry trained and paid while learning the skills you need them to have.

The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act took effect in 2014, and is designed to help unemployed people get jobs, training, education, and support to get a foothold in a new career path.Implementation of the grants is handled by individual state offices.

The On-the-Job Training Program

WIOA funds are allocated through your individual state and local resources. The On-the Job Training Program is part of WIOA, and is designed to help employers hire and train skilled workers while getting reimbursed. Through the OTJ program, you can get help::

  • Finding Workers 
  • Training them
  • Paying for training 

You can get reimbursed up to 50% of the costs to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired if you meet the program’s criteria. The new hire has to be unemployed at the time of the hire.

Find Your State

If this sounds like a resource you’d like to use to find, hire, and train workers for your office or in the field, the Career OneStop page explaining the OTJ program is the place to start — and then search for your state offices for more guidance.

If you’ve never heard of WIOA or the OTJ, you’re not alone. It was brought to our attention by one of our members on our Roundtables Facebook group. He recently used WIOAt to help offset payroll costs for a new hire from outside the industry. The new hire was the one who told him about it, and he wanted other members to know. It’s one of the many benefits of Roundtables — the ongoing collaboration and information-sharing that takes place in person and online.

Ep.55: How Your Team Responds in a Crisis with Don Brees and Alex Pajic

It can take one stroke of bad luck to take a remodeling business’s leader suddenly out of the picture — either temporarily or permanently. The repercussions can be wide and economically traumatic if the remaining team can’t pull together and keep the business running.

When Rosie Romero, the owner (and primary salesperson) of Rosie On The House in Scottsdale, AZ, had an off-road UTV accident that left him severely injured, his team had to regroup quickly in an emotional time to keep the business running.

In this episode, Don Brees and Alex Pajic talk to Tim and Steve about how they — and the whole company — handled the unexpected absence of their leader and friend. For six months, the team relied on each other to continue selling, building, and performing at their peak while Rosie was recovering.

Don started working for Rosie On The House Remodeling in 2016 as the Remodeling Project Manager, and is now a Production Manager. An Arizona native, Don worked for Rosie the first time back in 1993 before venturing out to start his own remodeling, paint and drywall company. He has 37 years of construction and remodeling experience under his belt.

Alex began working with Rosie On The House Remodeling in 2017, and is a Remodeling Project Manager and Sales/Design Consultant.He has 18 years of planning, real estate development, and construction experience. Originally from Croatia, he grew up in Vienna, Austria, and worked on residential developments and projects throughout Europe. He has a passion for sustainable building, architecture, and new technologies in building design and project management.

Don and Alex talk about the first hectic days after the accident, and how Rosie’s wife Jennifer offered her support and guidance to the team while dealing with so much else. It was a traumatic and turbulent time, but they both point to how many details were already in place in the organization to help them all pull together and keep moving forward, including:

  • Why hiring the right people is so important
  • The importance of building information-sharing into your operations
  • Having outside resources in place for support
  • The adjustments they made
  • How to prepare your team for emergencies
  • Reaching out to trade partners
  • Keeping client satisfaction at the center
  • Who plays what role, and how to decide
  • The importance of having someone to trust to sign checks and documents
  • How they dealt with the emotional trauma
  • Why they’re traveling separately from now on
  • And more …

It was a trying period, but the company’s structure already in place and the team’s abilities and attitudes got them through it. Most important, Rosie’s back on his feet and continuing to improve after the accident.

Listen to Episode 55 >>

Ep.51: Getting a Trade Show Education with Lauren Moore

We’ve talked about trade schools and skills training, but today we focus on what you can learn at trade events. Attending and sending your team can broaden everyone’s skill sets and knowledge bases.

In this episode, Lauren Moore discusses what goes on behind the scenes at shows and events with Tim and Steve, why you should consider attending, and why sending your team is great idea.

Lauren has been in the conference planning and continuing education industry for almost 10 years. She started out working within medical education and is now concentrating on construction professionals. Lauren’s goal is to curate the best, most timely, and well-rounded education programs possible for her attendees. Working with industry professionals, she organizes and manage over 150 sessions and 75 speakers annually at the JLC Live events as well as the Remodeling Show co-located with Deck Expo. Each education program takes up to 10 months to plan and produce, forcing her to become a master in organization.

If you’ve never been to a trade show or conference, Lauren says you should just start on the show floor, and maybe one session in the conference program. Then look at it from your team’s perspective — what do they need to know? She stresses the importance of:

  • Live demonstrations for technical education
  • What you can learn from distributors
  • Why networking is a huge education component
  • Why the admission and other fees can turn into savings on the job
  • Getting continuing education credits
  • How to set it up for your team
  • And more …

Including where to find the free beer. Every little bit of knowledge gained can save time and money on the job site, paying dividends on your investment.

Keep It Up!

We’ve gotten some great suggestions so far for topics and guests — share your ideas with Tim: tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

Listen to Episode 51 >>

Ep.45: The Strength of a Technical Education with Paul Lewandowski

Technical education at the high school level seems to be fading, but it’s growing at the college level. There are more programs turning out skilled workers that can start producing for home remodeling and construction companies on Day One.

In this episode, Paul Lewandowski of Fox Valley Technical College talks to Tim and Steve about the benefits of a technical education for students and their employers.

Paul has taught residential building construction at FVTC in Oshkosh, WI, for 18 years. The program started in the late 1990s, when members of the local home builders association and the local NARI chapter approached the college hoping to start a program to train carpenters primarily for the residential market.

Every year, students build a nearly custom 2,000-sq.-ft. house for the college’s foundation, which is sold at market-rate to fund future home-building projects and scholarships. The scholarships can be used by students throughout the college, not just the building students.

Paul talks about the program, what his students learn — and how. Half of their time is spent in the shop at the school, the other half building the house. He discusses how you can take steps to get organized and help build trade programs at schools near you, as well as:

  • Where FVTC finds students
  • How he teaches quality carpentry
  • The paper test for trimwork
  • The tools required of students
  • Where they get jobs after graduation
  • What remodelers can expect from the students
  • Getting more women into the programs and industry
  • Finding trade colleges near you
  • Dealing with unions
  • And more…

The best thing you can do to solve your labor shortage and promote the industry as a great place to work is to get involved and be persistent at the local level.

Keep Talking To Us

We asked for suggestions for guests and topics, and you’re coming through — thanks! If you’ve got an idea for us, drop Tim an email at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

Listen to Episode 45 >>

Ep.42: Becoming a Production Manager Without a Construction Background with Brad Yetman

With growth comes a need to hire a Production Manager — someone responsible for the entire department. It can be a difficult transition to move a Production Manager or Lead Carpenter up into that role. It’s about managing a department and the people, and it’s much more complex than running a job. Your company may benefit by looking outside the industry for your Production Manager. 

In this episode, Brad Yetman talks to Tim and Steve about his experience coming into a Production Manager role from outside the remodeling and residential construction industries.

Brad is the vice president of construction, as well as part owner of Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, MD. Brad is responsible for overseeing the production department, which produced about $14,000,000 last year. Brad has developed a financially focused approach to production management with an emphasis on “knowing the numbers,” both in the field and in the office, an approach which fits well with the company’s open book policy. But it wasn’t always a smooth transition.

Before joining Anthony Wilder, Brad had a limited background in carpentry and construction. He had worked in in commercial development and real estate. When he took the Production Manager job, he was overwhelmed for the first six months. In his second six months, he began to figure out it was about managing a department and people — and keeping a keen eye on profits. He tells business owners why and how to look outside the industry, as well as what to do when your hire someone, including:

  • Hiring for cultural fit
  • Setting Gross Profit and Net Profit goals at the outset
  • Bypassing hostility from within the department
  • Translating the numbers for those in the field
  • Networking to find an outside candidate
  • The importance of staying open to learning
  • And much more…

Including why having dogs in your office is a cool idea. But the most important thing, says Brad, is hiring a good manager — because the industry specifics can be learned.

What’s the Big Idea?

Do you have a great idea for a future topic or guests? Shoot Tim and email at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

Project Manager Training with the Experts at Remodelers Advantage

Remodelers Advantage presents a Masterclass course designed specifically for Project Management personnel in the remodeling and custom-building industries.

This program, led by Tim Faller, Victoria Downing and Doug Howard, consists of two days of intensive training and instruction focused on two of the most important aspects of managing a project; (1) hitting the agreed-upon budget and (2) working with and managing the team effectively. Click here for more information.

Listen to Episode 42 >>

Ep.41: Remodel My Business with Shawn McCadden

Remodelers Advantage Members are Industry Leaders

Roundtables Membership

The support and guidance we share with each other has dramatically changed our companies — and our lives — for the better.

Why? Because isolation is the enemy of success.

We know that none of us can ever be as smart as all of us. That is why we share. That is why we succeed.

Roundtables is a world-class peer advisory program that brings together smart, motivated remodeling professionals, just like you, to help one another grow.

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The Program

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Month 1
JumpStart!
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Month 1
Thursday, August 29, 2020
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Thursday, August 29, 2020
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Thursday, August 27, 2020

This is the single most impactful thing I have done for myself and my company. I now cannot imagine running my business without it and am happy to tell any peer that I come in contact with that it would benefit them.

April Bettinger, Owner, Nip Tuck Remodeling

Ep.37: How to Prevent Employee Poaching with Erika Taylor

Although wages and benefits are rising faster in the remodeling industry than in others, the labor shortage remains an ongoing problem. Good talent is hard to find. Many companies are poaching production staff from other firms to solve their problems.

In this episode, Erika Taylor talks to Tim and Steve about the issue, why it happens, and how to structure your company to keep your workers from being lured away. It goes well beyond wages — and Erika also discusses the results of a national survey of pay and benefits from Professional Remodeler.

Erika Taylor is director of content for Professional Remodeler. She’s also served as an editorial director with Hanley Wood and as a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Her work has been published in Los Angeles magazine and the LA Weekly. A native of New York and California, she currently lives in Dallas.

You have to fully engage your employees in your company to reduce the risk that someone else can woo them away. According to the survey, remodelers say they plan wage increases across the board and remodelers are more likely to offer benefits than other small-business employers. So throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to make it go away, because more money is out there anyway. Erika tells you how to proactively structure your company so employees want to stay with you, including:

  • What goes into a great culture, and why you need to have one
  • The importance of training to beat the labor shortage
  • Taking a hard look at what it’s like to work for your company
  • How to hire for culture
  • Identifying and living your company values
  • Why you should have quarterly check-ins with your employees
  • Identifying areas of growth for your people
  • The importance of trust and transparency across the board
  • And much more…

To learn more about developing your company culture, Tim highly recommends reading First Break All the Rules, from Gallup — it’s a great companion to this episode.

Listen to Episode 37 >>

Ep.32: The Importance of Hands-On Tool Training with Gary Katz

Skills training is a hot topic, but too few companies are doing anything more than discussing it. The industry can no longer count on anyone else to do the basic training for trade skills, those in the remodeling business need to do it to help solve our labor shortage.

There’s also a fear of training employees, just to see them leave with their new skills to work for someone else. But training your employees will help the industry as a whole, and that means taking responsibility and doing something about it, says Gary Katz.

In this episode Gary tells Tim and Steve about why — and how — companies can commit to training their people to keep up with new technologies and products, and build your business.

Gary is the publisher of THISisCarpentry.com, an online magazine devoted to craftsmen and craftsmanship. For two decades he has been a frequent contributor to Fine Homebuilding, Journal of Light Construction, Fine Woodworking, and other leading trade magazines. Gary’s books include The Doorhanger’s Handbook, Finish Carpentry: Efficient Techniques for Custom Interiors, and Trim Made Simple. His DVD series, Mastering Finish Carpentry, sets the standard for professional video instruction in the construction trades. The Katz Roadshow provides hands-on training at lumber yards and other locations to share techniques and best practices with industry professionals.

To ramp up your in-house training, you have to create a systems-based approach to everything your people do. Everyone has to do everything the same way, and having a dedicated training facility is ideal — but you can train your team without it. Start by reading your trade magazines, go to demonstrations at trade shows, and create a library of DVDs. Gary shares his insights on training, including:

  • Why everything moves — and how understanding that changes the way you build
  • Why training will actually help you keep the employees you want
  • How to ultimately pass the cost on to your clients
  • The steps to getting into a training mindset
  • Making it fun 
  • Unleashing the power of true craftsmanship
  • Tips on vetting new products
  • And more…

The underlying importance in training is teaching your people how to think, to figure out how to to adapt techniques to new materials, products, and tools. To find out more about training your team, and where to find the resources to do it, email Gary at gary@garymkatz.com.

Listen to Episode 32 >>