Michael R. Morris
What have you done in the last year to improve your business?
The best remodeling firms, like all small businesses, take a lot of small steps over time that make their operations run better, increase the quality of their work, and end up growing their business in many ways. This constant goal for steady improvement is what separates companies that struggle during periods of decreased home improvement spending, and those that don't.
If you're in the first group, there are a lot of things you can do to change that. Start by taking an honest look at your company. One way to do this is to put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. Better yet, what would you think about your company if you were a potential investor or buyer of your company on the open market? Taking an objective look at your business and how hard you're working on improving it is easier said than done.
We are all susceptible to the danger of getting so caught up in our day-to-day work that we end up in coasting mode and don't even realize it. If you're relatively successful, making good money and getting compliments from colleagues, co-workers and customers, the danger is especially high to get caught in a state of stagnation. I've been lucky to have had many mentors during my career who have inspired and coached me to become better, work harder or rise to greater heights even in the midst of what appears to be personal and professional success. Perhaps you have, too.
But when you're the owner of a small business, it can be difficult to find people who can do this for you. You're at the top of the food chain in your company, so the risk of stagnating is greater for you than most.
Luckily, mentors in the remodeling industry are everywhere. Your local association is filled with people who can serve as mentors, as are peer groups like Remodelers Advantage and Business Networks. Attend trade show seminars, contact trade publication columnists, seek out business coaches; do whatever it takes to keep from resting on your laurels.
Our recent Web cast, "Benchmarking for Growth," featuring Blackdog Design/ Build/Remodel owner Dave Bryan and HartmanBaldwin Design/Build co-owner Bill Baldwin, is another good source of business mentoring from two of the industry's best educators. Dave and Bill had lots of great advice about how to take a successful company and make it bigger, better and stronger for the long haul. You can find it archived on our Web site at ProRemodeler.com.
While you're at it, check out our industry exclusive Market Leaders coverage (see page 29) of the nation's largest remodeling firms in 20 top markets. They are great examples of companies that understand the value of constant improvement.