Your Business: Tool or Baby?

In our February issue, we explored the value of peer groups in Remodelers' Exchange. Last week, I attended the Remodelers Advantage Roundtable conference in Jekyll Island, Ga., and learned for myself just how valuable belonging to a peer group can be for a professional remodeling firm owner. Over the course of four days, my group, called the Charlie Group, discussed marketing and sales best pra...

March 31, 2007

Michael R. Morris
Editor in Chief

In our February issue, we explored the value of peer groups in Remodelers' Exchange.

Last week, I attended the Remodelers Advantage Roundtable conference in Jekyll Island, Ga., and learned for myself just how valuable belonging to a peer group can be for a professional remodeling firm owner.

Over the course of four days, my group, called the Charlie Group, discussed marketing and sales best practices; tax strategies; team building; profitable side businesses; exit strategies; production systems; contracts; growth strategies; performance metrics; vision statements; company culture; payment structures; management techniques; leadership attributes; customer satisfaction; personnel issues; organizational structures; reducing overhead, increasing net profits; balance sheets; profit and loss statements; budgets; backlogs; finance; and accounting.

By the time I boarded the plane back to Chicago, it was very clear to me that belonging to a peer group is as valuable a tool for professional remodeling firm owners as there is.

That is, unless you'd prefer to treat your business like a parent raising a baby, a comment made by Dale Contant of Atlanta Design & Build on the final day of meetings.

But if you're serious about making the most of your business, pushing profits to the maximum and retiring to a tropical location as soon as possible, do yourself a favor and join a peer group as soon as possible.

Charlie Group consisted of Contant and Guy LaMarca of Atlanta Design & Build; Kevin and Amy O'Brien of Agape Construction (Kirkwood, Mo.); Troy Fenley and Chris Neumann of Encompass Design Build (Vienna, Va.); George Davis of George Davis Builders (South Dennis, Mass.); Pete Valentino of Fisher Construction (Fairfield, Calif.); Ken and Kathy Spears of Ken Spears Construction (Shabbona, Ill.); Mike Spreckelmeier of Progressive Builders (Fort Myers, Fla.); Bob Weickgenannt of Starcom Design/Build (Columbia, Md.); Ben Thompson of Thompson Remodeling (Grand Rapids, Mich.); and Jeff Titus of Titus Built (Wilton, Conn.). Led brilliantly in discussion by Rosie Romero of Roth Production Company (former owner of Legacy Custom Builders), this group formed a pseudo board of directors for each other's companies as they each opened their books and left no stone unturned in an exhaustive search for improvement.

Once a year these groups hold a roundtable in a common location with hundreds of other companies in various other groups. Twice a year they visit one of the company's offices to see the business first-hand, interview employees and give even more feedback to the owner.

If you're shy about discussing the flaws in your company, peer groups aren't for you. But if you see your business as a tool and not a baby, they're worth the price of admission.

630/288-8057, michael.morris@reedbusiness.com

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