As you have likely heard us request ideas for show topics and guests, we are happy to deliver with this episode, focusing on the importance of daily planning. This topic can be slightly different depending on the size of the project; this episode is focused on regular sized projects and we will cover planning for larger projects in a future episode.
To explore further, Tim and Steve welcome Billy Andrews to the show to look more closely at how he manages the process, how he put the tools down long enough to actually plan, and look at how he overcame the barriers that popped up along the way.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.