Management

Ep.105: Solving the Skilled Labor Crisis with Clayton DeKorne

For the last decade (pre-COVID), the demand and lack of skilled labor may have slowed production and increased housing costs more than any other factor. This condition is not new to the U.S. housing industry; the nation faced similar conditions at the founding of the country, and the evolution of the U.S. education system and the building trades have contributed to our modern labor woes.

Is there a path that will lead us out of this? The answer will depend on where the future of housing is going, which is any one’s guess now. But, by exploring our past, we may be able to see more clearly what got us here and help us avoid repeating past mistakes.

In this episode, Tim and Steve welcome Clayton DeKorne to the show to explore this topic further. Clayton is Chief Editor of the JLC Group for Hanley Wood, LLC. Clayton has been with JLC since it’s “early days” in 1988, joined Hanley Wood when JLC was acquired, and also was the founding education director for the JLC Live series of events held annually around the country.

Tim, Steve and Clayton address the skilled labor issue, which includes:

  • The role technology plays in the future of our workforce.
  • How our colonial history can possibly transform the state of the industry today.
  • How income plays a role in how some choose a profession.
  • And more…

Get More From Tim Faller…

If you are not already subscribed, don’t miss Tim’s “From the Field” Monthly Newsletter. Tim shares his experiences from the road as he works with production teams across the US and Canada, gives you a glimpse behind the scenes as he scours the waters of New England for fish and lobster, and more. Don’t miss it; Click Here to Subscribe to “From the Field.”

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.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.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.94: Bringing Military Leadership to Construction with Cody Ross

One thing Tim hears frequently in his travels and consulting with remodelers is the desire for fewer layers of management, replaced by more leadership. 

One of the best places to learn and develop leadership skills is the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cody Ross served in the U.S. Marine Corps. from April 2005 – December 2014 as a combat engineer, doing everything from infantry to building bridges, and has found his experience translates well to remodeling and construction.

In this episode, Cody talks to Tim and Steve about using military leadership techniques and procedures to positively affect the construction process and to deliver a better client experience.

Cody is the project manager at Irons Brothers Construction Inc., in Shoreline, WA. He’s been with Irons Brothers for four years, and has successfully managed the company’s largest project to date in scope, size, and sale price. 

He’s identified five big leadership takeaways from his time in the military that apply to remodeling and construction — organization of the unit, commanders’ intent, small-unit leadership, planning backwards, and the end-of-week stand down. Cory breaks them down and explains how they translate to remodeling projects, including:

  • The importance of staying in your lane
  • Describing your ideal end state
  • Recognizing who’s best suited to make decisions
  • Time management techniques
  • Streamlining meetings for efficiency
  • The importance of contingency planning
  • How delegation of authority develops accountability and responsibility
  • Handling under-performing trade partners
  • Using BAMCIS* for further planning in remodeling
  • The five-paragraph order
  • And more …

*BAMCIS is a tool that stands for Begin the planning, Arrange for reconnaissance, Make reconnaissance, Complete the plan, Issue the order, and Supervise. 

Ep.93: Women in Leadership on Site with Dejah Léger

We talk a great deal about ways to beat the labor shortage, including the importance of training and education in keeping good employees. We’ve also discussed how to promote the trades as an attractive career choice. 

There’s a third component — finding the right people. And that may mean changing your thinking about what, or who, you’re looking for.

Dejah Léger came into remodeling with no experience, but was “trained from scratch,” she says. Due to her motivation and ability to learn quickly, she was promoted to lead carpenter within a year.

In this episode, Dejah talks to Tim and Steve about her experiences changing careers to become a carpenter and project manager, the challenges, and why women are a big asset on the job site.

Dejah is a lead carpenter/project manager at Irons Brothers Construction in Shoreline, WA. The first project she led was a major kitchen remodel, and she has continued to lead multiple jobs since then. Her role as the only female lead carpenter in Shoreline is a huge advantage on many levels. It points to the many reasons women should be recruited to be bags-on, even if it means large initial investments in training. 

Dejah’s remodeling career started when one of the company’s owners recruited her at her daughter’s baseball game. Her coworkers trained her on-site, she studied everything she could at night, and Irons Brothers sends their team to training and trade shows. She talks about what it’s like being a woman in a male-dominated industry, changing careers, and the advantages it gives her in the field, including:

  • Establishing authority and leading on site
  • Why the labor shortage leveled the playing field for her
  • Communicating with clients 
  • Creating relationships with subs and vendors
  • Finding safety equipment that fits
  • Training on her own
  • The physical aspects of the job
  • Using her graphic design background to understand plans
  • Why to recruit more women
  • And more …

Getting past preconceived notions of what a carpenter or project manager has always been is the first step toward recruiting and retaining good team members — and that includes women.

Ep.91: Talking Safety with Mark Paskell

Just because you’ve never been visited or cited by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration doesn’t mean you’re following safe business practices. Even if you or no one on your crew has been injured, it doesn’t necessarily mean your job sites are safe — you might just be lucky.

Most OSHA standards apply to the residential building and remodeling industries, and require employers to protect their workers by establishing safety programs and providing training. 

In this episode, Mark Paskell talks to Tim and Steve about how to create a safety culture and the benefits of running safe job sites and protecting your team.

Mark is president of The Contractor Coaching Partnership Inc. in Sterling, MA. He founded the company in 2007 to coach and mentor residential contractors on business, systems, sales, and safety. Mark became an authorized OSHA Outreach Trainer in 2012.

Creating a culture of safety is the first and biggest thing a business can do, says Mark. It has to start at the top — owners and managers need to be on board and involved, not just those in the field. Residential standards are as stringent as commercial standards, but there’s less of a focus on meeting those standards on sites. Mark talks about the things residential remodelers and builders should focus on, including:

  • The differences between OSHA 10 and OSHA 30
  • The most cited violations
  • The top job-site hazards — and how to minimize them
  • Hiring safe sub-contractors
  • What personal protection equipment your crew should wear
  • Misconceptions about safety and OSHA you may be making
  • Putting money into the budget for safety training
  • Investing in people and equipment to attract and keep employees
  • Why safer crews complete better jobs
  • How much time to invest in training
  • Safety meetings: how often you should have them, and what to cover
  • Why you should invite OSHA to your company
  • And more …

You can download materials to help you with your safety training at the OSHA website.

Ep.90: Moving Company Culture to the Job Site with Dennis Engelbrecht

Between 1950 and 2010, the use of the term “company culture” has doubled — Tim looked it up.  But for a lot of people, it’s still a bit of a mystery. You hear about having a good culture, but it can be hard to quantify.

Often, remodeling companies can have a great culture in the office, but it doesn’t always make it out to the field staff on the job site. Sometimes the office and the job site have two separate cultures, so the team as a whole doesn’t share a company culture. Complicating matters, as you grow, your culture will change too — in ways you may not expect.

In this episode, Dennis Engelbrecht, discusses company culture with Tim and Steve, especially how to create and maintain a positive culture in the field and get everyone on the same page.

Dennis is a consultant with the Family Business Institute, of Raleigh, NC. He’s devoted his life and career to creating, improving, building, and coaching entrepreneurs for greater business success. Dennis directs the CEO Roundtables Program for Contractors, which he founded to expand upon a group one of his early clients participated in.

Company culture is a collection of a set of beliefs and behaviors that affect the workplace, Dennis says. When trying to set up a good culture, it starts with the company’s leadership. It’s not a defined set of rules, but how everyone acts. The challenge is establishing and maintaining the culture you want, one that creates a workplace people want to be in. Dennis tells you how to create and direct a good company culture, on the job site and in the office, including:

  • Why the owner needs to visit job sites
  • The crucial role of your project manager or lead carpenter
  • How to involve your trade partners on the job site
  • Keeping egos in check
  • The power of a simple greeting
  • The first question to ask on the job site
  • Praising in public, criticizing in private
  • How to manage for success
  • Sharing information
  • Changing the culture — if you’re not the business owner
  • And more …

Your company’s culture on the job site and off can give you a competitive advantage in finding and keeping good team members — a key strategy in beating the labor shortage.

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