Operations

Ep.27: Building Great Trade Partnerships with Cory Fields

The term “trade partners” is beginning to replace subcontractor, and it’s a growing concept in the remodeling industry. It redefines the relationship, too, putting it on an even playing field.

But it’s more than just a term, and Cory Fields says they’re separate roles. A trade partnership is like a marriage, based on trust and mutual interest, and you work with them from project to project. You’re just dating your subcontractor, though, working on building a relationship that might not work out anyway.

In this episode, Cory explains more about the trade partner relationship to Tim and Steve, and why it can help your company get through the challenges of finding in-house employees in a labor shortage.

Cory is the Production Manager at Schroeder Design/Build in Fairfax, VA. He’s been there for a little more than four years, starting with four carpenters and three or four trusted trade partners, and growing his team to 14 carpenters and 10-15 trade partners.

Finding a trusted trade partner is a process, one built on clear communication and mutual respect. When you find the right ones, they can help you manage a job better than you could on your own. Cory talks about his interview process, and how he works with trade partners, including:

  • The importance of fair pricing
  • Working with you vs. working for you
  • How to move forward after conflict
  • Why you should never hold money back from a trade partner, even if it’s their mistake
  • Wanting the best for them and you
  • And more…

Building relationships isn’t easy, but finding and developing the right trade partners can make you more competitive and profitable.

Ep.26: Managing Your Clients Through Weekly Meetings with Pete Carey

One of the biggest factors in creating success as a remodeling company is keeping clients happy, and a big part of that is how you manage your jobs. Keeping a pulse on the emotional well-being of your clients with weekly meetings keeps the client on your team, while you manage the job.

Pete Carey drops by to talk to Tim and Steve about how to schedule and run weekly meetings, and why it works.

Pete started working as a carpenter for Riverside Construction in West Lafayette, IN, in the fall of 2001, thinking he’d be there for six months. Instead, he’s been with the company ever since. In April of 2018, he moved into the position of Production Manager, and is enjoying the new challenges that come with the role.

You’ve all worked on jobs that were successful in terms of budget, schedule, and finished product, but the clients were still grumpy at the end. Weekly meetings can help avoid that — but you have to make them productive. It’s not just another meeting for the sake of having one, you’ve got to make sure it’s a vehicle for the larger goal of caring for your clients’ emotional well-being. Pete guides you through the process that works, including:

  • How to set expectations with the clients
  • The two statements and one question that lead to productive meetings
  • How to train Project Managers to run them successfully
  • The key to letting clients know you care
  • Accentuating the positive
  • When to bring in help
  • And much, much more…

Empowering and trusting your Project Managers to set and run weekly meetings is a huge step in creating raving fans and boosting referrals.

Ep.25: How to Fire a Client with Jackie Stezik

If you’ve been in remodeling for any length of time, you’ve probably wished you could fire a nightmare client on a bad job. But you don’t, because you’ll lose money, risk your good reputation, and you’ve got a contract.

Jackie Stezik has done it four times — always for the good of her employees.

In this episode, Jackie talks to Tim and Steve about how she does it, what’s in her contracts, and the tipping points that lead to the decision.

Jackie has a master’s in administration and policy, and is the Project Manager at Multi-Trade Building Services in Oshawa, Ontario. Her education, coupled with 15 years in the remodeling business — “renovating” in Canada — has shown her that it’s necessary to recognize when it’s time to fire a client.

Jackie says they never take the step lightly. In all four cases, it was in reaction to emotionally or physically abusive clients who repeatedly made work miserable or dangerous. This episode tells you how Multi-Trade protects their team through:

  • The cancellation clause in their contracts
  • Knowing when to pull that trigger
  • The red flags to look for early
  • Why it’s their fault, but that’s OK
  • The importance of having a lawyer’s advice
  • Why you should have another job to go to
  • Keeping thorough documentation
  • And more…

A disclaimer: You should get your own legal advice regarding laws in your area affecting having a similar cancellation clause in your contract. But if you’ve ever dreamed of firing a problem client, this is the episode for you.

Ep.24: The Relationship Between Design & Construction with Anitra Mecadon

There are so many people involved in remodeling projects, with different skillsets and specialities and personalities. On the construction team, there’s often misunderstanding or frustration with designers and architects. Great designers have innate talents and abilities, great craftsman do too. Everyone brings a significant piece to a successful project.

The key, as it is so often, is in communicating to build relationships.

In this episode, Anitra Mecadon brings her perspective as an interior designer, and talks to Tim and Steve about breaking down the barriers between all parties involved in remodeling projects.

In addition to being an interior designer, Anitra is also a television host and spokesperson for National Gypsum. She hosted five seasons of “MegaDens” on the DIY network and has appeared on other shows on DIY, as well as HGTV.

When a designer brings you a complicated plan, appreciate that while sometimes it’s not easier to execute, the final result will almost always be better. By talking —and more importantly — really listening to each other, designers and contractors can form a united team to get the best results for your clients. Anitra gives you tips and methods to get there, including:

  • What can get lost in translation between all the parties
  • Making clients feel confident in the finish selections
  • How to work with new products — even if they’re just new to you
  • Remaining flexible
  • How to talk through disagreements
  • And much more…

Anitra also gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what really happens on those home-improvement TV productions. We’re thrilled that Anitra will be with us at the Purple Production Conference in New Orleans, Sept. 27.


  

Ep.23: Controlling Scope Creep With Sales Change Orders with Will Giesey

There’s a traditional divide between Sales and Production. It’s always a challenge — they have different goals, processes, and personalities. Typically, Production is left out of the conversation when it comes to scope creep, leading to delays and change orders during construction — and disgruntled clients.

Will Giesey and his team are changing that situation through careful communication, new processes, and using change orders negotiated by Sales during the design process to set client expectations and streamline the Production process.

In this episode, Will brings along his Production Manager Ryan Stiffney to explain the process to Tim and Steve.

Will founded Bellweather Construction in 2002 in Philadelphia, PA. He earned his MBA from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and studied fine art at Lawrence College, including concentrations in design and architecture. He holds multiple certifications with the National Association for the Remodeling Industry and other related credentials.

Ryan worked in the trades through high school and college. Ryan became Bellweather’s production manager in 2017 and handles internal sales-to-production project hand-offs, client communication, and trade partner relationships.

By introducing the idea of a core scope of work, with change orders occurring during the design process, Bellweather has been able to cushion the blow of escalating prices on their clients while maintaining margins. Get the details on how they make it work, including:

  • The importance of communication
  • Who should sign off on the contracts and why
  • How to explain it to clients
  • Why it works to vet good clients
  • The three phases of change orders
  • Why talk isn’t cheap — or free
  • And so much more…

For Bellweather, more time in the design process leads to a better Production process — and satisfied clients. For more on Bellweather, check out the website.

 

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Ep. 22: Creating Bonus & Incentive Programs with Robert Criner

It’s a constant conundrum — how to motivate your people. Bonuses and incentives can work, but you have to structure them in a way that speaks to something more meaningful than just extra cash in pocket. Many business owners have tried, many have failed, and some have just given up.

If you fall into the camp of not knowing exactly how (or why) to create a bonus and incentive program, Robert Criner has answers for you.

In this episode, Robert, Tim, and Steve talk about finding the deeper motivation for offering bonuses and incentives. It all revolves around building a team you want to keep around.

Robert is the president of Criner Remodeling in Newport News, VA. Robert founded the company in 1977, and has led it to success and profitability. Robert began working for a remodeling contractor in the summer of 1972, when he started his own one-man operation, and today has a team of 15 professionals. He is deeply involved in the remodeling industry, his community, and takes the time to give back locally and nationally.

The root of a successful program is getting your team excited and involved. Tying rewards to job budgets encourages Production leads to pay attention to what’s being spent on a job, and how it all adds up. Robert tells you how to put a goal-oriented program in place, and the benefits he’s seen, with details such as:

  • How to change behaviors on the job
  • Why dumping a big pile of money on a table makes an impression
  • Structuring your company for employee growth
  • Bonuses vs. incentives and how they motivate differently
  • Including the office staff along with Production in rewards
  • Inspiring envy in your competitors’ employees
  • And so much more…

Above all, keep it simple. Setting clear goals is the first step. And there’s also a definite bonus in it for remodeling business owners — you’ll attract and retain great employees, while making work fun and profitable for everyone.

 

Who Should Attend the PURPLE Production Conference?

This action packed conference is designed to meet the needs of all management level production staff including:

  • Remodeling Business Owners Focused on Production
  • Production Managers
  • Project Managers
  • Lead Carpenters

 

Ep.20: Managing Cash Flow with Doug Howard

In any business, you need to pay attention to your cash flow — in the remodeling business, it’s even more complicated. Your Production Managers and Project Managers can play a big part in keeping you on the positive side of the equation. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t share financial information with their teams.

But it’s critical that everyone be on the same page. You don’t have to share everything, but you should make your team aware of how cash moves in and out of your company.

In this episode, our own Director of Consulting Services, Doug Howard, joins Tim and Steve to talk about the importance of educating your Production Managers and Project Managers about how the cash flow on their jobs affects the financial health of the company. 

In addition to working as a consultant one-on-one with remodeling business owners, Doug also serves a facilitator for our Roundtables peer advisory groups. Prior to joining the Remodelers Advantage team, Doug owned and served as President of BDG Entrepreneurial Services for 17 years, providing accounting, tax and consulting services to small businesses with offices in four states. Doug’s an entrepreneur, government official, and small business consultant with more than 25 years of experience in leading organizations and assisting his client companies.

Making your Production staff aware of their stake in controlling cash flow starts with changing their mindsets on the job — instead of thinking about what they’ve built as benchmarks, they need to think about what that work earned for the company. A big part of changing perspective is through two-way communication, says Doug. Learn how to present your financials so that your Production team understands the impact they have on the bottom line, as well as other factors directly tied to cash flow, including:

  • Not always relying on your next sale
  • Eliminating waste and increasing efficiency
  • The importance of proactive scheduling
  • Making decisions based on cash flow
  • Not letting your jobs “slide to the right”
  • Avoiding debt while using short-term credit
  • Putting your team on offense, not defense
  • And more…

You’ll also get the story behind Steve’s $10,000 doorknob, and how it changed the way he thought about the remodeling business. This episode makes the case for communication and efficiency powering your business toward growth and profitability.

FIVE Reasons to Attend the #1 Remodeling Production Event in the Country 

  1. Great Speakers / Great Content
  2. Learn from Industry Thought-leaders and Peers
  3. Networking Opportunities & Connections
  4. Cool Venue in an Amazing City
  5. Spend the Day With Tim Faller!

Learn More About These Great Speakers & Register Today!

 

 

Ep.19: Training Project Managers with Mason Gatto

The labor crunch is real — and it’s getting even harder to hire great employees. But with an intentional training program in place, you can create greatness.

Mason Gatto joins Tim and Steve in this episode to talk training — specifically about his approach to training Project Managers, but the same ideas apply when teaching Lead Carpenters.

Currently the Production Manager of SoBo Homes Design and Build in Boulder, CO, Mason started as a field laborer and has worked every construction position on his way up. He’s drawn on this experience to develop his approach to training Lead Carpenters and Project Managers.

Mason’s training program for SoBo may surprise you — it’s a 60-day probationary period, with an emphasis on shadowing, not getting hands-on immediately. “Hiring is expensive,” he says. “A couple months seems like too long, but you’ll save time and money over the years.” Success starts with hiring for the right fit, not necessarily for skills or a long resume. He details his training program, as well as:

  • Why you need to train before mistakes are made
  • The importance of teamwork
  • Why a Project Manager should shadow every role in your company
  • Ways to cut down on the battle between Sales and Production
  • How to set goals for success
  • And more…

Finding skilled help is already difficult, with no sign it’s going to get easier. But with an intentional training program in place, you can teach the skills that will ensure success for your new hires, and your company. See more about Sobo Homes Design & Build.

 

Hear More From Mason…

We’re excited to have Mason as one of our featured speakers at The Purple Production Conference coming up in September! The Purple Production Conference runs alongside our Remodelers Summit in the amazing city of New Orleans on September 27th. Don’t miss this one-day journey through the inner workings of some of our industry’s most successful production departments. REGISTER TODAY!

 

Ep.18: Managing Labor Staff with Nick Beasley

We talk to many guests whose remodeling companies employ the Project Manager or Lead Carpenter systems with sub-contractors. Today, we’re looking at a production operation with 31 full-time employees — including in an in-house millwork shop.

In episode 18, Nick Beasley explains the ins and outs of having — and retaining — such a large production staff to Tim and Steve.

Nick plays an integral role in the growth and development of Adams + Beasley Assoc., acting as director of production for the last six years. Prior to this role, Nick operated his own residential construction firm for more than a decade. Today, he manages a staff of 30 Project Managers, Lead Carpenters, and carpenters, focusing on complex and dynamic residential remodeling projects in and around Boston, MA.

Keeping carpentry and production in-house takes a great deal of organization and training, but the benefits outweigh the challenges, says Nick. The biggest plus is control — of quality and schedules — with greater flexibility. Learn what goes into making it all work, including:

  • How to hire
  • Training schedules and materials
  • Who to meet with and when
  • Recruiting and retention strategies
  • Not having to beat up the subs
  • Setting standards
  • The importance of creating a great company culture
  • And more…

You’ll also hear a little about Tim’s time in the Boy Scouts, and how it relates to Adams + Beasley’s carpenter training methods. Give Adams + Beasley a click to learn more about them.

Make the Most of The Purple Production Conference – Bring Your Team & Save!

We’ve heard from many members and associates that they want to bring more than one person to the upcoming Production Conference in New Orleans on September 27th.

So, we’ve established a Team Pricing Discount.

If you bring 4 or more team members, the price for The Purple Production Conference drops to $225 if bundled with Summit and $325 if stand-alone. So bring the team!

Click Here to Register

 

Ep.17: Mobile Technology with Joe Weber

Technology is increasingly critical on every job — in the office, on job sites, at client meetings, or on the road. It’s also a way to attract and keep younger workers. But there’s a confusing array of programs and apps, and it’s hard to know what works.

Joe Weber joins Tim and Steve in this episode to help you figure out what tech you need, how to best use it, and what to keep an eye out for in the future.

Joe is the Production Manager for Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling, in Columbia, MO, and Leewood, KS. He’s been in the construction industry since high school, and has seen the evolution of mobile technology — from truck-mounted bag phones to pocket-size smartphones — and how it has changed the way we work.

Getting your team trained and comfortable with your chosen programs and devices is crucial — you can invest in all manner of cloud-based management systems and apps, but they’re useless if the team doesn’t use them. Joe talks about learning curves, the importance of training, as well as advice on:

  • Investing in devices
  • Saving time and money
  • Apps that will save you time and money
  • The power of photos
  • Working with clients
  • And much more…

Including the time he got a punch list via drone. If you’ve hesitated to put tech in the hands of your Project Managers or Lead Carpenters, have trouble getting your team to use it, or love it and want to go deeper, you can’t miss this episode! You can take a look at more about Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling here.

FIVE Reasons to Attend the #1 Remodeling Production Event in the Country 

  1. Great Speakers / Great Content
  2. Learn from Industry Thought-leaders and Peers
  3. Networking Opportunities & Connections
  4. Cool Venue in an Amazing City
  5. Spend the Day With Tim Faller!

Learn More & Register Today!