Hiring a Business Coach

A business coach can help your remodeling business and personal life run more smoothly.

November 30, 2008

Read the full discussion below or click here to listen to the conversation.


This Month Featuring:


Jud Motsenbocker

JUD Construction

Business coach, consultant or pseudo-shrink: whatever you choose to call that person, they can help your business and personal life run more smoothly. Today we'll get insight from both remodeler Michael Spreckelmeier and his business coach, Paul Winans. 

Jud: Today we are going to talk about “Hiring a Business Coach.” First of all I want both of you to tell me who you are, where you're from and what kind of business you run. Michael lets start with you.

Michael: I'm Michael Spreckelmeier, located in Ft. Myers, Fla., that's the southwest part of the state. We're a design/build remodeling firm and next year we celebrate our 20th anniversary.

Jud: And do you have your own employees, subcontract or both?

Michael: I have both. We currently have six employees and this year we're subcontracting about 50 percent of our business.

Jud: Okay, and Paul, how about you?

Paul: I'm Paul Winans, I am a certified remodeler. I'm a consultant and meeting facilitator working with Remodelers Advantage, a peer group serving remodeling contractors. I am a former owner, along with my wife Nina, of Winans Construction, a construction company we founded and ran for 29 years until we sold it in 2007.

Jud: I sold my company a couple of years ago, too, Paul. I sold it to my oldest son, who had been with us for 30 years.

Paul: We sold it to a person who was from outside the business, and I'd never met him before. It was marketed by a broker. He was interested in what had been created, which is a whole other story!

Jud: Michael, I'll start with you. I'd like the readers to be able to relate to why you chose to use a business coach. What kind of problems were you having when you made this decision?

Michael: I was having psychological problems, overworking problems, working too much and not getting enough out of my life and also, normal day-to-day business problems. It's been about 15 or 16 months now that I've been involved in the program. The slowdown in the economy has definitely been a problem. There are a lot of ways to deal with it. I think a business coach can help one to identify the best ways to deal with those problems.


Michael Spreckelmeier

Jud: Michael, how did you hear about a business coach?

Michael: I'm a member of Remodelers Advantage. Several of my friends in the group and other company owners had business coaches. Some were inside the remodeling profession and some were from outside. I happened to choose one that I thought would best suit me, inside the remodeling business.Jud: In your opinion, Remodelers Advantage has certainly paid off. Hearing about the coach and because of the other people you get to work with.

Michael: That's correct. I'm a real estate-investor, and I'm a stock market investor. I own rental properties. The best investment I ever made was in 2001 when I joined Remodelers Advantage. I would say that with or without Paul on the other line.

Paul: When we owned our company it was a member of Remodelers Advantage. We joined in the middle-1990's. I started facilitating meetings for Remodelers Advantage around 2000. Prior to that, this is along the same lines as you were asking Michael, we worked with business consultants over the years. We found that having a consultant coach, someone to give you an outside perspective and look at what you see so subjectively a little more objectively. That would bring a more removed sense of what the possibilities are. I think it's important that, as you mentioned to Michael, about problems he was dealing with. I think a good way to look this is as opportunities, particularly when you're in the middle of them as a small business owner who has a family to take care of and other interests. It can really feel overwhelming if you look at it as if you're in this all by yourself. One of the best things a consultant/coach can do for you is make you aware of the fact that you're not the only person who has ever dealt with these things. And here are some strategies you might consider to make it so things are more manageable and a little bit less challenging.

Jud: Michael, when you were running the business, was your wife working with you? Or did you have an office manager?

Michael: My wife has never really been involved in the business except for having to deal with some of the issues I would bring home with me. My wife is a school teacher. I do have an office manager.

Jud: Michael, what motivated you to go and seek out a business coach? What is the straw that broke the camel's back and you thought “I'm going to do this”?

Michael: I know Paul has facilitated numerous meetings that I've been involved in. I saw the connection there that I thought would benefit me personally in my business, then and in the future. I run a small company; I do not have a college degree. I was looking for some outside wisdom and knew that I needed it. Sometimes the hardest part is realizing that as smooth as we may think we are and as intelligent as we really are, it always helps to get that fresh paradigm.


Paul Winans

Jud: Paul, anything more about why people seek out a business coach?

Paul: I know that, particularly in the remodeling community, there are a lot of guys who run a business, and I don't know how someone does this on their own. Having worked with my wife for many years, I would come home and she just did not want to listen to some of the challenges that I was facing. We needed someone else to be able to talk to. I think especially with those who are doing this as sole proprietors who are “the guy” in the business, it's very difficult to get the sounding board that you need without bringing work home and having it become a big focus inside a personal relationship with your spouse. There are people who are able to manage the challenges all on their own. But I think they are very few and far between.

Michael: And they're lying.

Paul: Michael, you know this from the peer group meetings. One of the things I've always thought would be an interesting thing would be that when the peer group assembled, for at least one meeting, if everyone brought their spouses. When you get the one guy who shows up — and I'm not being sexist here — there are some women who run remodeling companies on their own; but there are very few so far. I know that having been in a peer group with a woman who is well known in the industry, Iris Harrell and her partner Ann Benson would come to the meetings. You would get two perspectives. The single guy who shows up at a peer group meeting or who is running his company by himself, you often times don't get the full perspective. A coach consultant can sometime help him or her to draw out from themselves when they know all the answers. They have a cloud of working in the business activity, and can't focus on the long-term “working on the business” things.

Jud: They work in the business, not on the business.

Paul: Exactly. Even though you put in an extra 20 or 30 hours a week to make the difference, but without taking care of yourself personally or in your relationships with your family, you end up being that much more unproductive, even though you are working longer.

Jud: Yes, that's a message we need to get across. They don't understand they can surround themselves with good people, and it certainly helps.

Paul: You look at anyone in a large corporation or even government. There are always people who are helping them with area specific advice and information. You can't know everything that you need to know. You can't be an expert at everything you need to be able to be good at without getting the help of people from outside your immediate world.

Jud: Michael, what specific issues has your coach helped you with? Try to give us an example of that that might be.

Michael: Well, I'm going to be completely honest here and I hope it doesn't embarrass anybody. First of all, with the relationship with my wife, and it may sound odd. Paul has facilitated many of the meetings we've been at. He's seen the fact that my peer group gives me a lot of static because, quite frankly, I'm a workaholic. The relationship with my wife, who is the dearest sweetest person in this world, suffered because of it. For some reason, in our first phone call, Paul asked the question, “how is that relationship?” I said, “Well, I see her every now and then!” It really drove it home to me that here is this person I'm sharing my life with, that I see five minutes here, ten minutes there. He made some suggestions. One of those was a thing we called “date night.” It's a night that I'm not allowed to bring my laptop home. It's a “spoil Liz” night, my wife's name is Liz. I will cook, I won't call it gourmet, sometimes it's just pizza but it's sharing time together without her walking out to my home office at 7:30 or 8:00 at night to tell me it's time for dinner. That one little step really helped our relationship.

Jud: I think that's very important that we bring that out. When you think of a business coach, you think of running the business, financials, profit/loss statements, and those things and systems. On the other hand, I try to get across that family life is so important to get your head out of the sand, and look around to see what else is going on in the world beside your own business.

Michael: I know that this conference call is about a coach, I actually prefer the term consultant. I think it's important to know that when a car salesman does his job really well, you leave the car lot feeling like you've just got the best deal in the world. When I hang up with Paul, I feel like I just hung up with one of my best and closest friends. He'll give it to you straight, don't get me wrong. If I'm doing something wrong, he'll say, “how about a different way of looking at that, Michael? Have you thought about this?” I never feel like I've hung up from Vince Lombardi. I feel like I hung up from a friend. It's not about all about profit and loss and balance sheets. The balance that I need is really in that personal life. I had a few trying issues to deal with this year. I couldn't imagine getting through some of those things without Paul. It really is built like a friendship. I'm not sure if that's just between Paul and I or if that's the way Paul is with everyone. I think that what makes it successful is that I look forward to the call. I only missed it once and that was because I involved with some business. It's definitely a priority for me. The relationship with my wife was probably one of the biggest things.

Jud: Those are important things to bring up. Paul, in that question, “what examples” is this a typical one that you start with, or at least try to get involved in before it's over with?

Paul: I'd like to say thank you, Michael! I appreciate what you're saying. The feeling is mutual. Part of what happens with a consultant/coach is that a very effective one is a person who is able to see through all the static. The distracting stuff that a client might bring up and really hone in on a couple of key issues sooner than later. These are the things we need to be focusing on. Regarding what Michael said about something as fundamental as a date night, one of the challenges that many small business owners have is just creating boundaries. A small business owner is so concerned about doing a good job for their clients or employees, trade contractors, getting the suppliers paid, etc. Often he will not pay attention to his own personal needs. A real good principal to keep in mind, which I try to keep in mind when working with a client, is just creating scheduled other activities that are personal in nature which limits the client's ability to be able to do work 24/7. Date night, exercise, walking every day, reading, book club, travel. Michael, you love fishing. You have a boat, and have buddies you like to go fishing with. Getting that happening on a very regular basis. When it's all said and done, when you're lying on your deathbed, you're not going to be thinking about the fact that you could have worked another day. You're going to be thinking about relationships and memories you've created as a function of those relationships. This is supposed to support your ability to do that. You're not supposed to sacrifice building relationships and creating memories just because you've got to work!

Jud: Yes. I certainly went through that. I did not happen to have a coach. A few things brought it to my attention real quick. Things such as some of my friends passing away. “I'm going to buy a cottage next year.” Next year never came, because next year it was something else. I see where you're trying to help people know you've still got another life, at least from that standpoint. I think that you used some good examples, not only from Michael but from Paul also. Michael, what about the business coach or format has been most beneficial to you? First of all, what is that format that you and Paul have worked out that you're doing and what parts to you like the best?

Michael: I'm not sure how everyone else does it, but with us, there is usually a hot topic. Hot topic meaning something that we're both recently familiar with. The format seems to change, it's not always you talk five minutes, I'll talk five minutes. A few meetings ago, I had some past employees approach me about purchasing the business. I had some concerns and thoughts on that. We spent about half of that call talking about buying and selling of businesses, what would my clients think, etc. Paul usually will have other not necessarily opinions, but he will send me links to a web site or to someone who has recently sold a business, or something that is around that particular topic. All of the advice isn't always coming from Paul. He may “justify” what we're talking about by saying, “go to this website” or “talk to a broker who handled mine”. Our phone calls are typically about an hour long. It starts out as kind of a recap about what's been happening since the last phone call and is pretty brief. It seems, and I hate to admit it, like I always have a problem! That problem seems to be different most weeks. Although the balance of life is one that I think probably another year will get that one worked out. About every other phone call we talk about some sort of balance in my life. I am the only owner; I don't have a vice president. My wife is not involved in the business. I need outside opinions that I can trust. I wait with those questions to ask someone that I trust.

Paul: One of the things you do fairly often, which I think is very effective, Michael, is to actually write an e-mail which is a recap of the call and shoot it over to me. When Michael does that, it really helps embed the ideas and ideas and information that we shared. Depending on the topic, there might be homework — try this, see what it looks like. We'll talk about it when we get on the next call.

Jud: Michael, when you made the decision to use Paul, did you have a face to face meeting or has it always been over the telephone?

Michael: When I joined Remodelers Advantage in 2001, Paul was the facilitator. I was impressed. Paul was still very active in his business, and he was a mentor to all these other people. I knew that he was one of the available coaches. Although they're all phenomenal people at Remodelers Advantage, I felt a particular bond to Paul. I called Paul and asked him if he would be willing to have another “protégé” and he said he would but I needed to follow a certain protocol. We called Victoria Downing and she thought it was a good thing. That's basically how it got started.

Jud: When he started coaching you, you actually did that by phone.

Michael: That's correct.

Jud: Michael, what advice would you suggest to any other remodelers or company owners thinking about seeking a business coach?

Michael: I think everyone should have a coach. Some people, I've got some friends that are remodelers that have 50 employees and a vice president. I think there a coach is important, but it may not be as important there where you have someone checking your boundaries, and say, “hey, I noticed you were here until 8:00 last night. What does your wife think about that?” They help keep each other in check. They hold each other accountable for keeping that balance in their life. I don't have anyone who does that, except for my business consultants. I think everyone should have one. I'm not sure everyone needs it on a monthly basis. I can say that I can't imagine the last 16 months without one. There have been too many issues in my life that we've been able to bridge. The issues are still there, it's just how you look at them.

Jud: Michael, what would you do different if you had to start all over again?

Michael: The coaching process?

Jud: Yes.

Michael: I would probably be more prompt with my recaps. In other words, when we hang the phone up, if I type my recap right then, it ingrains it. I have every one that I've ever written in my computer. Sometimes it's all on one page, sometimes two pages. There have been two or three times when I have not done that recap. I think a recap is essential. I'm not sure how many people actually do it, or if I'm the only one who has missed it two or three times. The call is the most important, and the recap is the second most important. Like with anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Again, if I'd missed a bunch of calls I'd say, never missed a call. I missed one, and Paul sent an e-mail. No pressure. We rescheduled and made the call. I would say to always follow up with a recap and do it within a three day period of time. Even if the recap is just for oneself, I like to share it with Paul. He knows I didn't just put him on the speakerphone and walk away and get a glass of ice tea! He knows that I was taking notes. I'll be the first to admit — I do want to impress him!

Paul: What I do, Jud, with what you send me, Michael, is I'll read it and then send back “that's great” or “think of it this way..” on a particular issue, if there's a tweak that's needed in terms of understanding. That way, Michael ends up really being totally dialed in as opposed to close.

Michael: And, there's usually a compliment with Paul's feedback. The compliment; there's not one of us that can't use one of those!

Jud: Michael, if you disagree with your coach, do you two discuss that? If something comes up that you're not comfortable with doing, do you discuss that? Do you do everything because you've discussed those things ahead of time?

Michael: I wish I could say that I do. I'd like to say that Paul never says, “You have to do date night!” He'll say, “Have you thought about this or I would suggest that”. There have been a few different things where maybe we could dig into my psyche a little bit more. Why am I a workaholic? Why do I manage money so tightly? I hate debt; most people who know me know that I run a pretty debt-free business. I hate accumulating debt, I think it goes against my long term plan. There have been times in our conversations where we've talked about digging in deeper. Finding out in my mind why is it that I process those thoughts that way. Why do I think it's better to work 80 hours rather than 60 hours? There have been times when I've said, “Paul, I'm not comfortable doing that.” There was one that had nothing to do with Remodelers Advantage or any gain for Paul. It was a couple thousand dollars study that I could participate in. I said I didn't think it was the best use of my money at that time. There have probably only been maybe in the 16, 17 months of this, probably three or four things that I just didn't think I could do.

Jud: The reason I brought it up was that we need to bring out to the readers that this is a two-way street. It's a dialogue. Just because the coach says it, if you're not comfortable, especially, Michael, with you being a person who doesn't like debt, we'll call it “standing up for your rights”, if you will.

Paul: Jud, I think it's a really good thing for a remodeler working with a consultant to practice. You get clients, trade contractors, and suppliers, building inspectors who will bully a really decent guy or woman. The deal here is in the coaching for the client to work with the consultant in a way that they will end up being more comfortable productively pushing that than they otherwise would be. One of the underlying principals here is that a person is what they do. What the person does is basically a function of habits that have been learned over time. A lot of people feel like they are a prisoner of who they are. Changing habits is possible. It's a matter of identifying which ones to change, and getting the support of an accountability partner, who will help you stay on course as you become a slightly different person in the eyes of people who see you. It's not like turning a switch, I'm this way one day and tomorrow I'm a different person. It would be great if it was that easy. It's more like, “let's pick one thing like date night.” Let's see what that's like, how are you doing? It might not happen every single week, but it happens more than not. Over time, just that sense of power and control over your own life opens the doors to a lot of other possibilities.

Jud: Michael, generally speaking, was the money well spent?

Michael: Absolutely. I don't even have to think about that.

Jud: You've kind of answered that as we went along, that the money was well spent. I would ask if the money you've spent in Remodelers Advantage was also well spent. If for nothing else, you got acquainted with Paul.

Michael: That's correct. I know they're not separate, but I look at them as separate. In other words, I joined Remodelers Advantage seven years ago. Yet Paul and I have been working on a one and one basis for 16 or 18 months now. Yet, I still have tremendous value in Remodelers Advantage because that's a whole other peer group, only there are about 12 to 15 other companies that are holding each other accountable. We make commitments to each other and follow up with each other and with monthly phone calls with each other. I feel the same about the value for my investment. None of these are costs, they're investments. That may be mindset. That's the way I deal with it. The fact is when things got tight on my budget, and I looked at training and education, I reduced my personal salary to cover the conference calls, because it means that much to me. One thing I want to say, sometimes Paul can plant the seed and then I nurture that seed. It grows into something that blossoms, and that would be date night. My relationship with my wife has always been good. This year, it's great! She was going through a lot of very difficult situations. But date night allowed me other opportunities. Not just the Wednesday night turn the laptop off. Realizing how important she is to me, and I can do a lot more. I don't want this all to be about date night. We've talked about balance sheets, selling a business, marking up projects and everything. Again, I'm not going to be on my deathbed and wish that I was better at reviewing my financials. I will always want to have been the best husband that I could be. I think that it's important. That date night allowed the whole relationship, not just a couple hours on Wednesday to realize how important the spouse is in or out of the business. It really is an important thing to me!

Jud: You found out you really liked being around her, didn't you?

Michael: Well, I know that. She's a great woman, and lets me be me. When you're a self-proclaimed workaholic its very easy for me to go there and work 75 or 80 hours a week not knowing the damage that's happening right on the other side of the door. And there is damage when that becomes priority. There were some paradigm shifts that Paul allowed to make. One of them is the gratitude list right there with the date night. It's one of the most important things. I've shared it with friends and family, and I put it in my newsletter. Right now, anyone can look at their business and say, “My GP is down my revenues are down.” But when you go home to an angel that takes care of our house, it's a beautiful house in sunny southwest Florida, and I'm healthy and my mother is alive, and I share a great relationship with her. If one sits with a pencil and paper and writes all the blessings we're surrounded with, the list could go for pages and pages. We never take the time to do that. Paul introduced me to the gratitude list. It's a powerful thing!

Jud: This is some of the information we need to get back to our people out there so they realize what a coach can really do. That list would certainly be important as part of this over all thing. We need to appreciate what we really do have. We're all sitting here with bad economy but we have a lot more pluses than we have negatives. Paul, how did you get started in this business?

Paul: Basically, I've been an introspective person who has found myself in a position of being a leader in virtually any organization that I've ever joined, including the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, National President 2005-2006. Working in volunteer organizations, you have to learn a lot about what it's like to work with other people. You can't fire them. They're going to be there whether you're working with them or whether they're working against you. I focused on learning about leadership and how to get the most out of myself. I have spent some serious effort over the years working with consultants, coaches and therapists at different times. I think everyone's life is a series of plateaus where you're doing really well on this one plateau, and then you hit a wall. You hit a barrier. You don't really know what to do. You're not happy and, you have no idea what's going to take you to a place where you will feel like you used to. You need an outside perspective to get you there. Having had that experience over time has helped a lot in terms of educating me. Everyone I've worked with I've tried to pick up what were the really essential ideas, techniques, strategies, and skill sets that they were suggesting that I would consider using. I was building a “tool box” that I could take around in my interactions with other people. Running a remodeling company for 29 years and running it with my wife Nina and raising three boys, and trying to balance home and work.

Making some incredibly bad mistakes, particularly early in my life and learning from those lessons as time when by were the real focus on creating very clear lines between work and home, and work and family. We got a lot of practice at because Nina and I would work together and come home. We were very good about only talking about work at work and home at home. Unless there were extraordinary circumstances and we asked one another for permission to cross those boundaries. This is another area where I got a lot of real-life experience.

Running RA meetings, the peer group meetings, about 10-12 a year since 2000 introduced me to many different people with a lot of the same challenges. Out of that came the opportunity as part of RA to become a consultant/coach. As Michael said, each of the people in RA who are providing these services is wonderful, exemplary, excellent. Each brings a slightly different focus to the work that they do. Because of my life experience, in college I majored in philosophy, I've been doing carpentry work since I was 15. If you wanted to find a workaholic, you could go back through my life. In my late teens and early 20's when I was either going to school or working every single day of the week, and I couldn't sustain that. That is unsustainable. That combination of life experience plus education and not specifically in coaching. I know that there are a lot of people who get that. But, just being able to translate those life experiences into, “here's some ideas you might consider, Michael, try this”. That's basically been my schooling.

Jud: Paul, are there common problems that you help most of your clients solve? Are they usually tailored specifically to a company, or is it both ways?

Paul: I think it's both ways. You find that the best clients are the ones who are the most frustrated. They're more highly motivated to address issues that, to some degree, might be uncomfortable. One of the reasons people end up working very hard is that it becomes a way of protecting them from addressing the core issues in their life that they know they really need to pay attention to. Depending on the client, it might be a leadership focus, a boundary focus or maximizing the value of your business.

Jud: How is this structured? In person? At the client's office? By phone, e-mail?

Paul: Because many of the people I work with, if not through Remodelers Advantage or speaking on shows like the Remodeling Show, JLC, speaking at NARI chapters around the country or Remodelers Council events. My clients more often than not are remote. In other words, it would be very expensive to have a face to face meeting. We will meet on the phone and it depends on the client. There might be e-mail exchanges between calls where a particular problem comes up: here's the agenda I'd like to discuss; give me a tidbit of advice, I've got a challenge with an employee, this is what I'm thinking of doing. We will interact between calls. Depending on the client, the frequency of the calls is different. Some people interact every two weeks, every month. If it goes longer than a month, I don't think you're going to get the change your really want.

What I think is very important is one of the practices that Michael does when we work together, which is the recap. Listening to something is one thing but immediately when you get off the phone call, you're going to get dragged back into your everyday world which is a maelstrom of distraction and “same old same old.” This person did this, why did they do it this way? I thought we had gone through this already. This client needs this attention. Trying to create a sense of, “I'm taking care of myself with an eye towards the future” is reinforced by taking the work that you did and paid for an writing it down in a way that's easy to remember, because you're writing it down immediately. It could be referenced both by you as the client and your coach in further calls. I'll keep a file of all the documents that I ever received from a client. Michael is good enough to send me his company's newsletter! It's a remarkable piece of work, Michael. You really do amazing things with your people and your company and it lives and anybody who reads it is blown away. So, I'll read the newsletter, anything I get and if there's anything worth mentioning, I'll bring it up relative to the newsletter. So there's this fabric that's created which is larger than the conference call even though we don't see each other on a routine basis. I worked with one client, Chuck Donegan in San Diego and he had contacted me I think through NARI and I had never met him until I went down there to speak at the local NARI meeting.

Jud: Paul, do you sometimes involve other members of the owners' team?

Paul: It depends, I'll go and do an onsite meeting. I worked with Todd Jackson of Jackson Design/Remodeling out of San Diego. Todd is a very dynamic individual and has a great group of people. He had me come down and we did a two day on site meeting that was oriented around getting super clear about what success at Jackson Design/Remodel looked like, and how each of the individuals fit into the team. Using a couple of different techniques, like personality assessments, everyone read a book, “Five Dysfunctions of The Team” by Patrick Lencioni, and went through a couple of exercises. The outcome of the meeting was there was a really clear idea of what the 4, 5 or 6 things that would constitute success at JDR. Everyone who was in the company knew more about each other as teammates as fellow members of the company, and how each person's job complemented the other person's job. That's another type of work to be done.

Jud: Paul, how long does this typically last? Is there a follow through at a later date?

Paul: The onsite meeting?

Jud: The consulting with an individual or a company.

Paul: Michael, you shouldn't listen to this, OK? I think what happens is there's a “fit” between a client and a coach. It's a function of the client's circumstances and also what the coach brings to the table. The burden is on the consultant/coach to actually be learning and growing and changing all the time, too. So they always can bring fresh information to a client. In our experience, the experience Nina and I had working with consultants, we would typically work with the same individual for 4, 5, 6 years. And for whatever reason, either the challenge that we had brought to the table initially had been addressed in a competent way, or that individual moved or they weren't doing what they initially did. We would end up finding a new coach. Change is good. I think that when you end up in a coaching relationship, if you're talking with the same consultant for 10, 15, 20 years, you're basically train each other about what shouldn't be talked about, what your individual strengths and weaknesses are so well that really important territory is off the table. Michael, we still have three to four years left!

Jud: Paul, do you see this as an ongoing thing? It's not something that lasts 18 months or something to that effect. Or, are there situations where you're only involved a year and then you talk to them every six months afterwards?

Paul: Someone might bring a particular challenge to it. “I'd rather deal with this – this is the real focus.” That's fine, too. It might be six months, it might be a year. We want to be really clear about what success looks like when we get started, so we'll know when we're done.

Jud: You set a guideline to measure it by.

Paul: The two of us do. It's always a dialogue. If you're working with a coach and the coach say something like, “You better do this…” One of the messages you should be getting is — maybe I need to find a new coach.

Jud: I agree. We have too may instructors that sit down in front of a class and say, “Because I give the instructions, this is the way it is.

Paul: Exactly.

Jud: “Here's some suggestions, and things that have worked.” Paul, what advice would you suggest to any remodeling company or owner thinking about seeking a business coach?

Paul: To really get clear on an individual level, what change you would like to make. If the relationship was great, what would the outcome be at some point in the future? How would your life be different? How would your business be different? How would your relationship with your company and/or your family and/or your employees be different? Maybe jot down a couple of thoughts about that. There are many many different resources. As Michael mentioned, the way we connected was because Michael was smart enough to get involved in a peer group company, Remodelers Advantage specifically. That's another way to meet very good people; through those types of interactions. You get a feel for them on a personal level. If you're reading Web sites or remodeling publications like Professional Remodeler, and you see people mentioned — check them out! If it sounds like what they're saying is a fit for you, really listen to your gut. This is so important. It is a business relationship but it's a personal relationship. If you're working with someone who you actually feel, like Michael said, is a friend. Someone who is going to call you on stuff and is someone you're comfortable with, you're more likely to do the good work that is going to come up out of the conversation on a regular basis. If you're looking at the person as sort of this Deity, someone who is, “I'll never be like him, he's never traveled the same road I have,” you're never going to get the value you need.

Jud: Could we almost put a precursor in here, Paul, of maybe peer groups, Remodelers Advantage, Twenty Groups might be a good way to get started?

Paul: Peer groups are incredible.

Michael: I can answer that one. Without a doubt. I made reference to investments earlier. And that initial investment was Remodelers Advantage. It's a time investment also, but we also talked about you may want to step outside of your business. And when you go to the peer group especially, in the boom times, we could take orders for all the remodels we want to, and we may be so “full of ourselves” that we don't even need anyone's help. That's wrong but sometimes that's what it feels like. The peer group is where you hold each other accountable. You can really learn from so many different people. It's so reasonably priced when you look at what our businesses are. I spend 1/10th on the peer group as I do on Worker's Comp insurance. But I use the peer group all the time. Worker's Comp you hope you never have to use that! The peer group is always there, and I have to say from being in it this long, I've seen so many changes in other people and their companies. The list goes on and on. It's not just, “I must have done something right, this helped Progressive Builders!” You've watched Sun Design, you've watched Todd Jackson, you've watched Encompass Design, you get surrounded by people like Ben Thompson, one of the best young remodelers and one of the smartest guys I've ever met. I wouldn't have been in touch with him without being in that peer group. He's a dynamo. If you just check out websites, you'll never get a chance to meet some of these super star dynamic people that are out there. Definitely, the peer group is the way to get started.

Paul: And a peer group allows you to be open in a way that you can never be with the really good remodeler friends that you have in your local area. You're not competing with the people in the peer group. You reveal everything to them in a way that is so freeing. And then they do give really good advice as you say, Michael. To watch people actually work through using the advice and come back for the next meeting. It's transformational for everyone in the room!

Jud: That's a great point. We have a lot of the peer groups in one form or another. Sometimes people make a comment to me, “I can't afford to go to those!” I always tell them they can't afford not to go to those!

Paul: Exactly, especially in time like these.

Jud: Absolutely, with the difficulties that we're having. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time today!


This Month Featuring:

Michael Spreckelmeier, President

Progressive Builders, Fort Myers, Fla.

Progressive Builders is a design/build/remodeling firm that will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. The company has six employees and subcontracts 50 percent of its business.

Paul Winans, Business Coach

Remodelers Advantage

Paul is the former owner with wife Nina of Winans Construction in Berkeley, Calif. They owned the company for 29 years before selling it in 2007. He is also on the Professional Remodeler advisory board. Paul can be reached at 541/488-6452 or paul@remodelersadvantage.com.

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