When Joel Barkman  started out as a remodeler, he did it all. He swung a hammer. He did the bidding. He answered the phones. These days,  Barkman’s role isn’t in the field, it’s on the sidelines as a mentor. Though he doesn’t miss the hectic nature of it all, Barkman says it’s not always easier to train his employees to do the job. 

“It’s [different] when you’re sitting in the back and managing the business rather than being the guy with the toolbelt on,” Barkman says. But Barkman is also a strong believer in the power of education—especially when it comes to thorough process reviews—and almost half of all of his time is spent showing his workers how to work more efficiently. 

“We spent a lot of time and money on education and reviews,” he says. “That’s one of the things I’ve learned over the years. That, and always hire people who are better than yourself.”


  • Setting a mood for the year ahead can really boost morale and focus expectations. “The theme this year is bringing back the wow to the client,” he says. To show his team the how it feels to be wowed, he took them to the 5-star Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va. “We left the office in a customized coach and had a tour of the resort, we had a 5-star dinner, then we had someone from the facility speak to us about what it means to be a 5-star facility.” What he hopes his employees got out of the excursion was a sense of how good it felt to get top-of-the-line service. That way, they could deliver the same to clients.
  • Review, review, review: Each year, Golden Rule performs a SWOT analysis on its costs, employees and their skillsets, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and growing trends. If something doesn’t work, they stop doing it. If something is working well, they focus on it.
  • Setting a 10-year goal is extremely beneficial. “When we established it three or four years ago, our 10-year goal was to make 10 million [dollars per year] as a company,” says Barkman. “We had an organizational chart that followed each growth and what intervals you hired. We charted it from where we were at 3 million to 10 million. So far we’ve been ahead of schedule.”