Thursday, June 10, 2010

Win/Win and Communication

I have heard it said that if you run a remodeling business, knowing what to charge and how to communicate about money, it doesn't matter if you know the formula for mixing a mud floor for the bathroom or not (you want a subcontractor who knows that formula). What you want to know is how to estimate properly the time it takes for that project, not to walk on it before it dries and charge enough money for the job.

I'm always encouraging contractors that I coach to retain great quality craftsman and get them to see remodeling not just as the job they have for this month or this year but as a lifetime career for them and their employees.

When you're considering hiring a remodeling company, one of the things you want to know is how long have their employees been with them and what are the benefits the employees get from working with that company. I don't necessarily mean their pay or insurance. I'm talking about the value they receive in going to work every day. For example, if they enjoy going to work every day, you’ll probably get a craftsman quality job.

I coached a client whose remodel turned into a nightmare because the crew and the project manager weren’t what they needed to be as far as bringing a good experience to the table. I knew this particular contractor and I also knew who the crew had been and who the current crew was that worked on my client’s remodel.

The client shared with me that they had given this contractor many leads in the past and everyone was absolutely thrilled with not only the experience, but with the quality of the job. What I shared with the client was that the crew had changed from the time they’d given the contractor all of those referrals to the time they decided to do a remodeling project on their new home. It wasn't that the contractor/owner of the company had changed, the crew had changed.

I often give the example of a good sitcom or one-hour drama on television; it's not just about the lead of the show, it’s about the ensemble cast. A good crew headed up by a lead carpenter, headed up by a “on top of their game” project manager, headed up at the very top of totem pole by a good contractor/owner is what makes for a quality experience on a remodel project.

The contractor/owner of the company can know everything about remodeling when it comes to banging nails, hanging the drywall or installing the tile but if they don't manage the project well or have a project manager on board who can lead the orchestra, so to speak, the job becomes a nightmare.

That was what happened in the case of this particular client I coached several years ago. It took several sessions to get them to understand that it wasn't personal. What was personal is that, prior to the remodel, they didn’t ask me, or anyone else that could advise them, to “find out who the crew is, how long they've been around and who is managing the crew”.

The remodeling industry needs new methods in order to bring higher value to the customer and in turn higher profitability to the contractor. This contractor may have made a very good profit on the job but there really wasn't value and experience brought to the customer. Therefore, that homeowner would never refer that company again.nIt was absolutely not a win-win situation.

So a good coach can function as the communication conduit between the contractor, the homeowner, the subcontractors and the project manager and sometimes all it really takes is a good coach to get things off to a smooth start and help keep them on track.

Stay tuned for more in my upcoming book: Remodel 411 – The Relationship of Remodeling.

Reva Kussmaul
CEO – Eye For Detail Inc.

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