10. Focus on positive goals. We've seen the headlines: Stocks are down; interest rates are up. Construction seems doomed. Regardless of the economy, a leader helps his team see beyond the negative. Remember, as long as people live in houses, you will have remodeling opportunities.
9. Balance life outside of work. You can easily work 50-plus hours a week. Remodeling is not who you are; it is what you do. Schedule time for family, friends, and yourself.
8. Profit should not drive you. Profit is necessary to survive, to grow, and to have good people in your company. But money is a by-product, not what drives a company.
Your reputation is built on your passion to enhance people's lives through home improvement. Profit allows you to bring passion to reality. The desire to constantly improve business and transform buildings and lives comes from within.
7. Never forsake training. Learn who to listen to; teach what you've heard. Seek council from those who remodel and are successful in those areas where you need help. Train weekly to lead your company where you want it to go, not where you've already been. Limit training to one hour. Implement one idea at a time, not several. Training is a sound investment, not an expense.
6. You benefit when you give. Practice giving daily. Employees and customers respond well to compliments and handwritten notes. Anonymous gifts, especially to those in need, will bring you great joy. Give, because you can.
5. Salespeople are essential to growth. There are clues to finding great salespeople. One is the ability to listen. Good listeners tend to repeat what the client says. This assures the client that they have been heard. Other signs include a solid work ethic and confidence in the products and services provided, and the fee charged. Great salespeople have a desire to pursue a prospect and exceed customer expectations. Their honesty and integrity make the prospect comfortable enough to hire the company.
Don't over-manage. Hold salespeople accountable through systems and procedures.
4. Keep your goals in front of you or you will lose your way. Written goals are your road map. Without a road map, your company can go in any direction or several at once. Avoid confusion and wasting time; have a plan and a destination for your company. Provide direction, and your team will follow.
3. Good employees seek good businesses. If you think good employees are hard to find, ask yourself, “Am I the type of boss I would want to work for?” Then ask current employees what they think of your company. Mold yourself and the company into something better to attract and retain better people. They are out there. Make sure your company is the one they want to work for and that you are the leader they want to follow.
2. Most problems come from communication breakdowns. Someone somewhere won't communicate something correctly. Treat it as an opportunity to improve. Consider the big picture, not just that job; make it right.
1. Don't give up. Many failed remodeling companies involved great craftsmen who were poor businessmen. During my second year in business I had three devastating jobs in a row. Everything that could have gone wrong did. I nearly gave up. My embarrassment and fear of telling others drove me to keep moving forward. To survive, I went beyond my comfort zone to learn business, management, and other things I didn't know. I read, went to seminars, listened to tapes, and asked questions.
Work hard, work smart, and don't give up. — Tracey Bail is the president and founder of Bail Home Services & Construction, in Goshen, Ind. The company has been in business since 1982, averaging 200 projects per year.