Production

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.

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.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.

Ep.89: Profit-Sharing Strategies with Shawn McCadden

Money isn’t the only way to motivate your team, but profit sharing can boost morale, productivity, and help attract and keep good production employees.

Profit sharing can be engineered into the budget so there will be funds to distribute. As long as you hit the gross-profit margin, you can set up profit sharing, says Shawn McCadden. But you have to be careful and systematic in creating the system.

In this episode, Shawn discusses profit-sharing strategies with Tim and Steve, and how to create and maintain a profit-sharing program that will motivate your field team.

Shawn is president of Remodel My Business Inc. in Brookline, NH, and is a prominent figure in the remodeling industry. He obtained his builder’s license by age 18; founded, operated, and sold a successful employee-managed design/build firm; co-founded the Residential Design/Build Institute; and went on to become director of education for a national bath and kitchen remodeling franchise company. Today he speaks frequently at industry conferences and trade events. As an award-winning columnist, he contributes to industry publications, blogs, and writes a monthly column for Qualified Remodeler magazine. You can learn more at www.shawnmccadden.com.

You must have a sensible financial system already in place to make profit sharing work, says Shawn. There’s no room for guesswork. You also need a way to measure what’s happening on a job in the same way it was estimated for apples-to-apples comparisons. He discusses how to implement a profit sharing plan and the benefits, including: 

  • Starting with best practices
  • The difference between profit sharing and bonuses
  • Considering profit sharing as an overhead expense
  • Training your staff to understand your budget
  • Testing it before you roll it out
  • Setting the goals
  • When — and how often — to distribute the money
  • Documenting your process 
  • Determining who gets how much
  • Being a competitive employer in your market
  • And more …

The labor shortage is only going to get worse, says Shawn, and a profit-sharing program — along with competitive pay, benefits, and time off — will help your company attract and keep the best employees.

You’ve Got Questions, We’ll Find Answers

This topic was suggested by one of our listeners who wanted to know how to begin a profit-sharing program. If you’ve got a question or idea for a topic or guest, send Tim an email at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

New Dates for Extreme Business Makeover

Due to schedule conflicts we moved the Extreme Business Makeover to March 30 – 31, 2020. We’re still at the BWI Westin in Baltimore and we’ve added Bruce Case as a featured speaker… More content being added and we’ve got 4-5 great tools that you will be leaving with, so take a look at this event and we would love to see you there!
More information + Registration >>

Ep.88: Women in Production Management with Heather Tankersley

The remodeling and construction industries are dominated by men. Even such necessary things as safety equipment are a bad fit for the few women who are working on the production side in residential remodeling or construction.

But things are slowly changing. More women are showing up on job sites, and working in production and operations management.

In this episode, Heather Tankersley talks about her experiences as an operations manager with Tim and Steve. She discusses what it’s like to be in a management role as a woman in construction and the differences between her experience in commercial and residential projects.

Heather is co-owner of Tankersley Construction in Rancho Cordova, CA, with her husband Steve (check out his episode). Founded three years ago, it’s quickly become one of California’s leaders in residential construction by taking commercial construction principles and applying them to small- and mid-sized homeowner projects. Before working at Tankersley Construction, Heather managed complex projects for some of the largest electrical contractors in the United States. Heather’s prior project experience includes new student housing at Sacramento State University, new classrooms for UC Hastings, medical facility expansion at Folsom State Prison, and multiple VA and healthcare projects throughout Northern California. 

While still working full-time in her previous job, Heather worked with Steve to develop the new company’s processes, and they found the need for an operations manager role. She filled in. Heather manages the pre-construction phase. When the job is handed off to the project managers, Heather oversees the schedules and the progress of each individual job. She talks about what she’s learned and what her prior project management experience has helped her company, including:

  • How she got into the industry
  • Being comfortable with asking the three “whys”
  • Developing organizational skills
  • The need for good people skills
  • Her protocols for keeping information up-to-date
  • The platforms and applications she uses
  • Dealing with gender biases
  • Organizations supporting women in construction
  • Finding mentors 
  • The advantages of being a woman in residential remodeling
  • And more …

Heather says remodelers should look to recruit commercial project managers — male or female — by using the appeal of the more personal, relationship-driven work of residential remodeling.

FREE Webinar coming up in February…

Change Orders: The Top Three $$$ Mistakes Corrected

Join us on Thursday, February 20th as Tim Faller walks you through key strategies for addressing change orders and hitting your profit targets in 2020. This webinar for owners, estimators, and field staff will focus on the top 3 Change Order mistakes companies make that cost them money. We will share Spreadsheet Calculators using real demonstrations – not only how each mistake occurs, but how much it costs you as well. Each mistake will be discussed, and possible solutions presented.
Click Here to Reserve Your Seat >> 

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