Dave Smith took construction jobs to raise money for a Ph.D. in history. He ended up deciding to “do what I love doing,” starting with handyman jobs. Now his company does additions and whole house remodels. Last year, Smith set up a small-projects division—jobs under $100,000—to handle the sheer number of requests for kitchens, basements, and baths. In its first year, that division generated $550,000. “Small-scale jobs have to be managed in a totally different way,” Smith says (i.e., by a site superintendent). “A lot of things have to happen so much more quickly.”
The company’s biggest virtue? Value. “Our true worth is determined by how much more we give in value than take in payment,” Smith says. That encourages staff to do the unexpected for clients: pull in trash cans on trash day, shovel the walk or, if it’s someone’s birthday, show up with a present.
- Last year Smith set up a small projects division—jobs under $100,000—to handle the sheer number of requests for kitchens, basements and baths. In its first year that division of Smithouse generated $550,000. “Small scale jobs have to be managed in a totally different way,” Smith says. (I.e., by a site superintendent.) “A lot of things have to happen so much more quickly.”
- Among the Five Smithouse Laws is Law #2, which is the law of value. “Our true worth is determined by how much more we give in value than take in payment.” That encourages staff to do the unexpected for clients: pull in trash cans on trash day, shovel the walk or, if it’s someone’s birthday, show up with a present. “We talk about these things and try to be intentional,” Smith says.
Smithouse set up shared Google documents so crews could log their store trip materials expenditures. “It’s crazy what we were spending,” Smith says, on store trips. This way project managers and leads can list what they need at the store and spare themselves those trips by having one person do it, minimizing time spent away from jobsites.
- Smithouse is committed to giving, as a company, either money or services to the community. The company contributes to nonprofits such as the Araminta Freedom Initiative (which educates about human trafficking), the National Fatherhood Initiative, Young Life and other organizations. Smithouse also contributes a thousand dollars toward any organization an individual employee wishes to give to.
- Smithouse will even give away change orders, but strategically, Smith says. Example: “The contract calls for a lower trim profile, but we would like to have the casing custom milled to match what’s there now.” Such decisions create incredible customer loyalty. The key, though, Smith says, is to “let the client know we’re doing that, and why. If you don’t, it doesn’t have the same power.”