Remodelers Advantage

Ep.104: Inside the Home Builders Institute with Ed Brady

Meeting the growing need for a qualified workforce in the remodeling and home building industries has evolved into seeing the ideal worker as coming from a range of backgrounds but with a common interest.

In this episode, Tim and Steve welcome Home Builders Institute (HBI) President and CEO, Ed Brady, who explains the breadth of programs offered and the evolution of services HBI is undertaking to match the industry’s varied and changing needs.

Home Builders Institute (HBI), a national nonprofit that trains underserved populations, including veterans, transitioning military, high school students and justice-involved youth and adults for careers in the building industry. Ed currently oversees the operations, products and services for HBI and is a second-generation home builder from Bloomington, Illinois.

In addition, Ed has served 12 years as Independent Director of the Chicago Federal Home Loan Bank, working with leading experts to advance the nation’s housing policy and has also served as a senior officer with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and as the 2016 chairman of its board of directors.

Ep.103: Moisture Control with Bill Robinson

In this episode of the Tim Faller Show, Tim and Steve explore some of the more technical aspects of the remodeling and building industries. In this case, we take a closer look at moisture control and bring in an industry veteran and well-known speaker, Bill Robinson out of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Bill is a nationally known construction trainer and presenter. He has demonstrated the proper use of building products in many parts of the country and at dozens of trade shows. Bill’s overarching message is understanding, detailing, and managing the building envelope and you can learn more about him and his business here.

Free Webinar: Recovery 2020: Let’s Get Ready to Restart!

As the world battles through the COVID-19 Pandemic, one theme is constant throughout North America; “How do we Recover?” Every area is effected differently and each remodeling company must look at the next 6-8 months and plan accordingly.

This month’s webinar features Tim and Doug Howard, taking a closer look at positioning your business to succeed and hitting the ground running as we all emerge from this disruption in the market.

This webinar will be a dual-presentation; first Doug will address the business side and then Tim will handle the challenges faced on the production side. Click Here for More Information and Registration >>

Ep.102: The Customer Experience with Gavin MacDonald of GuildQuality

In this episode, Tim and Steve cover the Customer Experience. Creating a positive feeling in your clients can not only make the project successful but more importantly, leads to referrals which we all know is the “lifeblood” for any successful remodeler.

No one knows the concept of Client Experience tracking more than our friends at GuildQuality so we have Gavin MacDonald join the conversation for this episode.

Gavin is the Sales Director at GuildQuality, a software company based in Atlanta, Ga that specializes in measuring client satisfaction for contractors. He has been working with small business owners ever since he started his own marketing automation company in college and has been involved in the software space ever since. In addition to running the sales team at GuildQuality, Gavin often travels to speak at various conferences to educate contractors on the importance of being customer-centric.

Tim, Steve and Gavin talk more about:

  • Why it’s so important to have a customer-centric business in 2020.
  • What are some things a company can do to make their business more “customer-centric”?
  • How do reviews play a role in growing a business?
  • How do you recommend dealing with negative reviews?
  • And More…

FREE WEBINAR:Recovery 2020: Let’s Get Ready to Restart!

This month’s webinar features Doug Howard and Tim Faller taking a closer look at positioning your business to succeed and hitting the ground running as we all emerge from this disruption in the market. Join us on Tuesday, May 19th for this FREE Webinar.
Click Here to Learn More and Reserve Your Seat >>

Ep.101: Costly Mistakes in Renovation with Michael Upshall

In this episode, we talk about mistakes. Not technical mistakes like forgetting to shim a heavy door, but the mistakes that cost remodelers and renovators in other ways.

Our guest was recommended to us from an avid listener in British Columbia who heard him speak at a conference. His topic was avoiding costly mistakes in renovation and remodeling projects.

Michael Upshall is the Founder of Probuilt Design + Build in Bolton, Ontario. Michael is a well-known face in design and home/lifestyle magazines, and a regular speaker on stage at GTA Home Shows. Michael is a master carpenter at heart who naturally progressed into a renovator and builder. His career spans over 35 years, and PROBUILT’s collection of awards and recognitions continue to grow. PROBUILT was the first two-time recipient of the BILD “Renovator of the Year” Award (2002 & 2006).

Tim, Steve and Michael discuss:

  • 3 biggest business mistakes that contractors make
  • Importance of Detailed Specifications
  • Designing Projects towards Client Budgets
  • Competitive Bidding vs Design/Build
  • 3 biggest mistakes in production
  • Sales to Production hand-off packages
  • Tracking Job Costs during Production
  • Timelines and Scheduling
  • And More!

Michael also shares what it is like to build a house in 9 days to be featured in a trade show.

Michael is a great example of a suggested guest from folks just like you… our subscribers and listeners. If there is someone out there that you have either heard on another podcast, or perhaps an author of a book you have read, contact us and let us know.

Ep.100: A Conversation with Tim

Congratulations on Reaching 100 Episodes!

To celebrate this milestone, we’re changing up the format, turning the tables and featuring our Host, Tim Faller!

In this episode of the Tim Faller Show, Steve interviews his co-host and explores Tim’s background as a lead carpenter, business owner and his transition to a trusted advisor and sought-after industry “guru.”

Steve and Tim discuss:

  • Shifts in the industry, from 1-2 person operations to larger design/build firms we see today.
  • The birth of the lead carpenter system and its evolution.
  • Common issues and challenges that Tim sees in working with Remodelers in the US & Canada.
  • Finding good help and building an awesome production team.

A few items that Steve and Tim reference in this episode:

Ep.99: The Punch List as a Profit Center with Derek Stone

As he’s stated many times, Tim wants to see punch lists eliminated completely. The punch list can be an invitation for clients to find fault for remodelers. In new home building, there’s a part of the budget set aside to take care of the punch list. It can be a drain on profits.

Usually.

Derek Stone built a business, in part, by completing punch lists and warranty work for other building companies.

In this episode, Derek talks to Tim and Steve about a different side of the building business, and how his systems and training can help your remodeling company.

Derek is the CEO of Stone’s Repair and Remodel in Nashville, TN. Derek started his company as a one-man show in 2011. After working 80 hours a week, for three years, and missing his family, he learned the principle of leverage. He hired his first subcontractor, and within the next nine months, he hired 10. In 2017, he had over 28 subs punching houses for 14 different builders. In those three short years, he went from $68,000 in revenue to 1.2 million. 

About 60 percent of Derek’s business is punch list and warranty work, primarily for new tract home builders. His company also does pressure washing and screen enclosures. He says he’s personally done about 7,000 houses himself. He contracts with local building companies to complete the work. Derek talks about his slice of the building and remodeling business, as well as his approach to systems and training, including:

  • How long it takes
  • Scheduling his subcontractors
  • What he learned from Chik-fil-A
  • Creating replicable systems
  • Training for skill sets
  • Maximizing efficiency
  • Working strategically with partners
  • His profit-sharing plan
  • And more …

If you or your team would like to see examples of his training approach for his sub-contractors, Derek has videos on his YouTube channel.

Did You Miss Build Aid?

Did you miss it? Thousands of remodelers, builders and industry professionals attended the Live, two-day virtual conference and got to hear 20+ speakers share tips, advice and strategies on “surviving and thriving” during these challenging times…

But we have Good News… We are keeping the Virtual Event Center open for a few weeks so you can access the recorded sessions and visit with the sponsors and partners that made it all possible. Visit https://buildaid.live/ to learn more.

Ep.98: [Back-Up] Getting Selections Done Before the Job Starts with Tanya Donahue

Editor’s note: We’re all working remotely, away from the podcasting studio, so we’ve dug into the virtual vault to bring you this episode. With so many projects on hold due to Covid-19 emergency orders, take some time to get your systems and processes ready for better days.

Developing a system that makes your kitchen and bath jobs more profitable has to include getting those all-important selections done early in the process — before the job even starts.

Tim does a session on this, and it’s based on what he learned from Rhode Island Kitchen & Bath, in Warwick, RI. 

In this episode, Tanya Donahue discusses that process with Tim and Steve, and why it results in exceptional client experiences, and make everyone in the company happy and more productive.

Tanya is the president of Rhode Island Kitchen and Bath, and provides her team and her clients with proven strategic capabilities, backed by her strong record of success. She’s spent more than 25 years in the home building and remodeling industry, and her main focus is to create, communicate, and implement the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction. Tanya is a member of the Rhode Island Builders Association, served as co-chair of the Remodeler’s Committee and is a former member of the board of directors. She was selected as a 2017 Industry panelist for Harvard University’s Joint Center on Housing Studies, and was a judge of the 2018 National Qualified Remodeler Design Awards. She was also the recipient of the 2017 ProRemodeler Extreme Sales Award.

At the company, when a job packet goes to production from sales, it has every selection made, right down to the color and manufacturer of the caulk to be used. So much money is lost when something is missing on the job. If your company isn’t doing it this way, Tanya says, it may seem overwhelming, but she tells you how to get your organization on board with making selections before the job starts, including:

  • Making the client the boss, sort of
  • Getting buy-in from sales and design 
  • How it increases productivity in design and sales
  • Including photos in the job packet for easy identification on site
  • Starting with the must-haves
  • Controlling the client through education in the process
  • Figuring out how clients make decisions
  • Why cabinets can drive their start date
  • Starting with a reservation form, and using it as a reality check on the schedule
  • The power of the visual production board
  • How to do it without a showroom
  • And more …

Integrating sales and production in a continuous communication loop from start to finish is key to the whole process.

Don’t Miss Build Aid on April 1-2…

We want to give back to an industry that has supported us through good times and bad, and so we’ve created Build Aid, a FREE, two-day virtual event to help support our members, associates, and friends in the remodeling community.

Join us on April 1-2 as we explore various ways your business can navigate these tough times, and position yourselves as a leader when the world begins to recover and re-build. Click Here for more information & registration

Ep.97: Getting a Handle On Training with Chris Peterson

Training to help move team members up the ladder is important to any remodeling company and its ability to move fast and make money. 

Chris Peterson has seen the importance of training from his first days in the field as a carpenter through to his present leadership position. He says it’s a concrete way to coach and promote great people from the ground up. 

In this episode, Chris explains his company’s training methods to Tim and Steve, and shows you how to create your own education program.

Chris is a co-owner and vice-president of production at Schloegel Design Remodel in Kansas City, MO. Chris has been with the company for more than 23 years. He started in the field as a carpenter and progressed to lead carpenter, project manager, and production manager. In 2018, he purchased the business with his partner, Charlie Schloegel. He’s seen the need for better training from many angles. 

There’s a real connection between emphasizing training and successful financial growth, says Chris. His company has started Schloegel University, which is in its initial growth phase. Some of the training is after hours on a volunteer basis, and there are mandatory meetings. Chris explains why making it cross-functional with classes that include field and office staff is important, as well as:

  • Reactionary vs. proactive training
  • Explaining how quality ties into profitability
  • How much to spend on training
  • Structuring a training program
  • Understanding education is already happening
  • Setting standards so things are done the same way, every time
  • Putting the responsibility on the learner
  • Creating enthusiasm around the process
  • And more …

Dedicating the time to training, even if it’s informal, will help your people be successful, leading to better quality and more jobs for your company, says Chris.

Ep.96: From The Experience of an Arbitrator with Dennis Dixon

If you’ve ever had to deal with legal action in your remodeling business, you know it can be a nightmare. The best thing you can do is to keep you and your projects out of the legal system.

Dennis Dixon has used his experience as an expert witness and investigator to help business owners understand the link between the legal system and the health of their business.

In this episode, Dennis talks to Tim and Steve about how to keep you and your projects out of the legal system through preventative measures, management, and oversight. 

Dennis is a 35-year veteran author, builder, and consultant, and is the president of Dixon Ventures in Flagstaff, AZ. His book, Finding Hidden Profits contains proven management, policy, and contract content solutions to keep any construction or design pro in the profit stream. 

His entry into the legal system began 25 years ago, when lawyers would ask him to investigate projects that were the subjects of lawsuits. Dennis says about 75 percent of these disputes arose from mishandled change orders, with the underlying causes of poor documentation and communication. He talks about how to help keep your company out of legal trouble, including:

  • Getting everything in writing 
  • The problem with allowances
  • Why you need good planning and specs
  • A-to-Z documentation
  • Asking how clients will use a space to get a deeper understanding
  • Resolving disputes before taking any legal steps
  • When to take the hit on a change order
  • The power of a real letter, not an email
  • Taking emotion out of the process
  • Addressing dispute resolution in your contracts
  • How to prepare for arbitration or a lawsuit
  • Why the party with the most paperwork wins
  • And more …

Maintaining good communication with clients will help head off disputes — and that includes the hiccups and problems too. Being transparent and documenting everything is the key to avoiding legal trouble.

Ep.95: Teaching People to See with Ian Schwandt

Today’s guest believes that training tradespeople is an overlooked part of solving the labor crisis the remodeling and construction industries continue to face. 

Ian Schwandt says that lead carpenters are in the best position to have a positive effect on the development of young tradespeople. As a lead carpenter, he practices what he preaches. 

In today’s episode, Ian talks to Tim and Steve about teaching young tradespeople to see, understand, and think about why they’re doing something, rather than only demonstrating the mechanics of the task.

Ian is a lead carpenter and estimator with Hudson Valley Preservation in Kent, CT. He started with the company in 2017 as lead carpenter after working with the owners as a carpentry sub. He took over estimating in 2019, and rebuilt the Excel-based estimating program. He wrote a four-part series about the idea of the Worker-Centered Crew in JLC. 

Taking on the estimating task gave him added insight into how crews are put together, how they’re trained, and what they’re capable of. Ian started as a laborer out of high school, but found he loved carpentry work. He got a four-year apprenticeship program when he joined the carpenters union in Milwaukee, WI. His training there put him on a life-long path of learning. He talks about his views on training, and others can approach it, including:

  • The Triangle of Obligations
  • The importance of being organized
  • Setting your field team up for success
  • Building teaching time into the labor burden
  • Teaching how to cheat
  • The difference between working from the neck up and neck down
  • Explaining the “why” of the whole project at the beginning
  • Using YouTube videos and magazine articles to prepare your field staff
  • Putting a package of PDFs together that can be accessed on site
  • Asking the right questions to make workers think and understand the work
  • Creating a working environment that will attract young workers
  • And more …

Ian also writes his own blog at The Pen & Hammer — A Lead Carpenter’s View Inside the Office.

We Want to Hear From You

If you have a suggestion for a topic or guest for the podcast, send an email to Tim at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

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