client satisfaction

Ep.53: Make Your Project Manager a Marketing Machine with Doug Panozzo

Of all the things you have in your marketing toolbox — your website, email and direct mail, or social media — there’s one you may have overlooked.

Positioning your Production team to be aware of sales and marketing can be an overlooked marketing strategy, and also help align the office and field teams.

In this episode, Tim and Steve talk to Doug Panozzo, who is a human marketing machine. We discuss how to make that switch in mindset for your Production team, and how it can boost your sales and profits.

Doug Panozzo is a Project Manager for Hogan Design & Construction in Geneva, IL. He’s been with Hogan since October 2017. He came from outside of the industry, from a tech company, and moved into a Project Manager role with Hogan almost a year and a half ago. Since then, he has grown familiar with the industry, became efficient with Hogan’s systems, hasn’t gone over budget on a single one of his projects, and has brought in over $100,000 in sales in the last year.

Sharing the big picture with your team is the start. Doug says working on marketing or sales is job security for him — the more work he can help bring in, the longer he has a job. He talks about how he does it, and how you can get your team involved, including:

  • Selling the company throughout the project
  • Sparking new leads
  • Following up with customers to touch base
  • Finding the incentive — referrals and bonuses
  • Asking for social media posts with tags and reviews
  • Wearing and being the brand everywhere
  • How to start those conversations
  • Picking the right customers to keep in touch with
  • Making the questions subtle and helpful
  • Keeping good notes and setting reminders
  • Building relationships and working the neighborhood
  • Finding the way for different personalities to market and sell
  • How to set the expectations in hiring
  • Giving Production the tools, training, and materials to do it
  • Getting the timing right
  • And much more …

 

Including why your Project Manager or Lead Carpenter should talk to the neighbors’ cleaning people, and how many leads can come from it.

Let’s Keep It Up

This episode was another spurred by a suggestion from our listeners. If you’ve got an idea for a guest or topic, send Tim an email at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

 

Ep.52: Growing Through Team Engagement with Michael Sauri

We’ve talked about getting your Production team engaged in refining your systems and processes by encouraging them to make decisions and look for problems.

But have you considered involving Production in the Design process?   

In this episode, Michael Sauri talks about how and why he did just that with Tim and Steve. Through this change, Michael sped the growth of his company.

Michael and his wife Deborah started TriVistaUSA in 2005 and the company’s grown to four times the size in as many years — with decreased overhead and increased take-home for their family and employees. Michael received the 2018 Fred Case Remodeling Entrepreneur of the Year.

Engaging Production in Design started with Michael working with an architect on a project, and being frustrated — he wanted to offer more options for his client. Michael asked his Production Manager to offer his ideas. Now, everyone involved in a job is involved in the Design process. He tells you how you can do it, and why:

  • What a charette is
  • Employing a charette concept in other areas
  • Work with your team’s strengths
  • Looking back to other projects for inspiration
  • Using creativity in problem-solving
  • Why input spurs engagement
  • Reducing on-site problems before they can start
  • Changing processes as you grow
  • Why it saves time overall
  • Who to involve and when
  • How to get started
  • And more …

Tapping into your team’s experiences and insights is the first step to getting to the best outcomes and solutions. It’s a continuous process, but can pay dividends in your bottom line, and in employee loyalty.

Ep.49: The Numbers that Matter Most with Judith Miller

For many people, the actual building of the project is what Production is all about. Looking at the bigger picture, Production has a great deal of responsibility to keep profit up. Production is a huge contributor to the financial health of the company.

It’s about the numbers — but what numbers are critical for the Production team to know and track?

In this episode, Judith Miller talks about the critical numbers for Production with Tim and Steve.

Judith is the resident financial expert at Remodelers Advantage, and says the numbers tell the story of your company. In college she studied architecture — but failed physics — and switched majors, graduating with a degree in economics. She has combined her love of architecture and building with economics to become a high-level strategist in the remodeling industry. Judith has been a facilitator for Remodelers Advantage Roundtables for more than 15 years, is a featured speaker at industry events, and frequently published in Remodeling Magazine.

If you can lay out a roof, which can be complicated, you can understand the numbers if you put your mind to it, she says. Looking at what numbers are trending, Judith says she’s seeing over-billing numbers decreasing, indicating a drop in sales from last year to this year. The economy may be slowing, Judith says, which makes understanding the numbers from the production side even more important. She talks about:

  • How field labor efficiency affects the bottom line
  • Indirect costs
  • Controlling slippage to protect from slowing sales
  • Job costs to look at in Production
  • Acceptable gross margin levels
  • Profit, loss, and overhead
  • Why the little stuff matters in job costing
  • The 80/20 rule
  • Why to estimate hours over dollars for labor
  • The most important things to hit in your budgets
  • Solving problems together

The most important factor in your bottom line isn’t a number, Judith says, customer satisfaction is. And that’s driven by employee satisfaction. So as you dive into the numbers together, avoid finger-pointing, and work as a team to figure out how to make your company more profitable.

Here are the links to Judith’s webinar about the Labor Burden Calculator:

 

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Ep.47: An Introduction to LEAN with Doug Howard

Today we’re talking about LEAN in Production. Doug Howard has been helping remodeling companies see how they can make their processes better, cut wasted effort, and streamline their systems for better profits.

In this episode, Doug talks to Tim and Steve about what it can do for your company — especially in Production.

Doug Howard, RA’s director of consulting services, is an entrepreneur, government official and small business consultant with more than 25 years of experience in leading organizations and assisting his client companies.

LEAN is the idea of having principles and practices to fuel continuous improvement.

One of the best things about LEAN is how clear and simple the concepts are to understand — it works as well for small- to medium-sized companies as it does for huge global enterprises. Doug talks about getting from your current state to your future state with fewer steps in your processes, and where to start, including:

  • The Eight Wastes, and how to eliminate them
  • How to apply the Five Whys to Production to find the root cause
  • Addressing the workplace with the Five Ss
  • How LEAN works with the Zero Punch List concept
  • How it improves the customer experience
  • Why LEAN is like a GPS
  • Involving your subs in the process
  • Conditioning your thought process for the long haul
  • And more …

Including Tim’s interpretation of what LEAN stands for. You’ll learn how to build a system that fits your business.

 

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What’s on Your Mind?

If you have an idea for a guest or topic for the show, let Tim know at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.
 
 

Ep.46: Working with Architects with Jason Stearns

There are many different ways to work with architects in the remodeling industry, whether you’re working in the design/build model or as a builder using plans developed outside your company. Regardless of the work model, most remodelers agree the architectural plans they get at the beginning of the production process are only half done. So communication is paramount during the build phase.

In this episode, Jason Stearns discusses the ins and outs of working with different architectural firms from the Production standpoint with Tim and Steve.

Jason has been working in high-end residential market in San Francisco for almost 30 years. He joined Jeff King & Co. as Director of Production in 2017. Since then, he’s helped implement the use of Procore for their production teams, standardized the project scheduling formats, and started a weighted numeric skills assessment system for the evaluating the carpentry and labor staff to identify needed training for advancement.

In each of their projects, there are two clients — the homeowner and the architect, Jason says. He and his team want to deliver the project that realizes the original vision for both parties. To make everyone happy takes clear communication and rigorous documentation of every email, phone call, and design change. Jason tells you how to make that happen, including:

  • Getting information when you need it
  • Establishing good working relationships
  • Creating schedules that work off the budget
  • Looking at the schedule as a living document
  • Identifying milestones for the architect
  • Making objective arguments
  • Staying ahead on change orders
  • And more …

Keeping track of all communications is a major challenge, but it’s the best way to ensure that the completed project is a success for all parties.

Keep the Suggestions Coming!

This topic was suggested by one of our listeners. If you have an idea for a subject or guest, send it to Tim at tim@remodelersadvantage.com.

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Ep.39: Hitting Production Schedules with Keith Blose

Meeting client expectations and getting jobs done profitably greatly depends on hitting your schedule. Cloud-based software makes it simpler to set up a schedule, but you still have to get your staff, Trade Partners and other Subs to understand and follow through on those plans.

In this episode, Keith Blose talks scheduling with Tim and Steve. He shares how important it is to his projects to have what he calls an aggressive schedule, and how to get everyone involved and on board.

Keith is a top Project Manager with Amiano & Son Construction in Tabernacle, NJ. He has been with the company for three years but had deep experience before joining the team. One of his accomplishments was becoming a senior project manager through his constant growth and dedication to his clients and their projects.

Keith’s success with scheduling relies on creating great communication between all the parties involved — Sales, Production, Trade Partners, and especially the client. He talks about what he means by aggressive scheduling, and how that helps create communication. The key to making the schedule come true is fully understanding the job. Keith talks about all that includes:

  • Understanding individual clients’ needs
  • Knowing your Trade Partners and their work
  • Front-loading schedules
  • Working damaged goods into the schedule
  • Using IOU forms for the client
  • Working with Sales throughout the construction process
  • Being realistic about your schedule
  • Allowing for bad weather
  • And more…

Setting expectations early with a clear and realistic schedule will help you move jobs through the Production pipeline quickly, on time, and boost your profits.

Ep.33: The Reboot Week with Dave Domenichini

A full week where no production, no work on projects at all, might seem like any remodeling company’s nightmare — the kind that wakes you in the middle of the night. For one company, though, it’s a reality that’s worked like a dream.

In this episode, Dave Domenichini explains the hows, whys, and benefits of building in a Reboot Week to Tim and Steve. All production for that week stops — not even subs are working — as he gathers his management team for meetings to go over what works, what can be improved, and to concentrate on new ideas.

Dave started D.R. Domenichini Construction in 2004 with one employee in Morgan Hill, CA. He slowly built the company to its current size of 12 employees — seven in the field and five salaried managers. In the beginning, he wore many hats and had many job titles. As the company grew, he was able to hire people to fill those roles so that he could focus on business development.

Reboot Week gives Dave and his management team time to work on the business, not in the business, and review and plan to implement new systems and training. “It’s like when you’re spinning your wheels in a car,” he says. “You’ve got to let off the throttle to get traction.” Dave explains why it works, the problems it’s solved, and how to sell it to the hourly staff that won’t get paid for that week, as well as:

  • Gathering actionable information
  • How to prepare your clients
  • Searching for the “Golden Nugget”
  • Building in fun
  • Creating the agenda
  • And much more…

If you’re thinking about how much it costs to take a week off of active work on jobs, Dave says don’t — he thinks about how much it would cost him not to do it.

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.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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