Mark Robert Halper

We all want a quick fix based on a simple premise, whether for our remodeling companies (to boost sales, generate more leads!) or ourselves (to lose weight, reduce calories!). But quick-fix changes are rarely successful; they tend to be poorly conceived and supported.

Remodelers who want to influence real change in their companies — or their lives — might benefit by reading Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. The authors (Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler, whose earlier books include the wonderful Crucial Conversations) explain that influencing positive change takes structure and hard work.

Systematic Change

As a consultant and meeting facilitator, my challenge is to change remodeling company owners: behaviors, goals, how they build and motivate teams to achieve those goals, and how they measure success.

These changes don’t come easily. Influencer emphasizes that influencing change requires learning specific skills and carefully diagnosing problems. The authors identify seemingly intractable, actual problems that “influencers” turned around in systematic fashion.

For example, the Delancey Street Foundation, in San Francisco, is a self-described “residential self-help organization for substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom.” Its average resident is a 7th-grade dropout who has been institutionalized several times. Yet with just one professional staff member, Dr. Mimi Silbert, the foundation has mainstreamed 90% of thousands of residents into respectability.

Leverage the Best

In each of the book’s many fascinating examples, success hinged on “the influencer” identifying a handful of negative behaviors that, if changed, would topple the problem. They also looked for examples of success that could be leveraged to encourage people to substitute positive behaviors.

For instance, the biggest problem at the Delancey Street Foundation is street gang behavior, which emphasizes self-survival, at all costs, and not snitching. So the foundation targets two high-leverage behaviors. First, every resident must take responsibility for someone else’s success. Second, everyone must confront anyone else who breaks the rules.

How might this approach apply to your business?

In my work, we have identified several behaviors that lead to success for remodeling company owners. First, you must understand — and manage by — your financial reports. Second, you must build an A+ team of co-leaders.

To mitigate sales challenges, you might define and leverage the behaviors that differentiate your top salespeople. Look for “positive deviance” in behaviors such as self-generated leads and ability to ask for the sale, and use those behaviors to develop a recipe for sales success.

Once you identify and leverage positive behaviors, say the authors of Influencer, identify sources of influence that can provoke the desired change. The sources listed below can both motivate change and help enable people to change.

  • Personal: to motivate, make the undesirable desirable; to foster ability, help people surpass their limits.
  • Social: to motivate, harness peer pressure; to foster ability, find strength in numbers.
  • Structural: to motivate, design rewards and demand accountability; to foster ability, change the environment so that the necessary tools are available.

Let’s say that you want your production staff to be more accountable for the gross profit their jobs deliver. Define the behaviors they need to embody, and provide the motivation for them to take the appropriate action.
Clearly, enacting major change is not simple. But it is possible, and it is critical to success. Read this book.

—Linda Case is founder of Remodelers Advantage, in Laurel, Md., a company providing business solutions through a network of experts and peers. 301.490.5260;;