Operations

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.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.

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.92: Using RFIs Effectively with Jason Brookshire

We’ve discussed adapting commercial construction systems and applications for use in the residential world. Implementing them is often met with resistance — but there are definitely processes that work well and add value.

Requests for Information are standard in the commercial construction world, but aren’t widely used in residential remodeling.

In this episode, Jason Brookshire talks to Tim and Steve about why he finds RFIs to be important to his work in residential remodeling, and how to implement your own system.

Jason has been the production manager at McBride Remodeling in Petoskey, MI, for more than four years. He has more than 15 years of experience as a commercial development superintendent in markets around the country.

In his work in commercial construction, Jason used written RFIs when clarification was needed in the scope of work from architects, owners, or other parties. At McBride, RFIs are used by lead carpenters and those in the office, creating better information flow. It cuts down on phone calls and clarifies communication. RFIs go through their cloud-based project management system. Jason talks about the advantages of using RFIs, including:

  • Building in accountability
  • Getting the details you need — when you need them
  • The type of information typically clarified
  • Getting staff buy-in
  • The time it saves
  • Who gets involved
  • How to use them
  • Simplifying change orders
  • Training your trade partners
  • And more …

The accountability and speed built in to the process are vital to growing companies, to streamline jobs and protect profits. If you’ve got questions about implementing RFIs in your company, Jason says you can get in touch with him at Jason@mcbrideremodeling.com.

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.

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