Accredited Remodeling Company: A Handbook for Success
Bingo Emmons, CR, CRPM, UDCP, is a fifth-generation remodeler. He began working at his father’s company following college graduation. In 1986 Bingo and his wife, Deb Emmons, started their own remodeling business, Creative Construction of Wisconsin, Inc. Today, they average 100 projects annually—from small jobs under $10,000 to projects exceeding $270,000.
In 2017, Creative Construction of Wisconsin enrolled in NARI’s Accredited Remodeling Company program. Initially, Bingo was reluctant to enroll in the program. Accreditation had merit on face value, but he wasn’t convinced his company needed it. Once he began to explore the Accreditation Standard, however, he discovered a blueprint for a thorough company-wide evaluation and organization update. “It surprised me that the program provided the perfect handbook on how to prepare my business to hand over to the next generation,” he says.
In the future, the Emmons plan to hand down the business to their son. Fortunately, the accreditation process illuminated a crucial reality: Their business wasn’t ready for a management change. “Everything was in my head and very little was documented prior to accreditation,” Bingo says. “I realized I should have done all of this day one, not some 30-plus years later.”
Build a Better Company
Compliance with the Accreditation Standard required Bingo and Deb to assess every component of their business. The process allowed them to reevaluate their company procedures and uncover opportunities for improvement. Bingo was surprised by the multiple processes needing revisions to enhance operational efficiency. “I learned that a lot of what we were doing was simply not good enough. We used NARI Accreditation as an opportunity to improve our process,” he notes. “It really helped streamline many activities, which in turn led to an improvement in internal communication, which then resulted in an improvement in the way we manage client projects.”
Best Practice: Process Improvement
They improved the company’s job costing. “The whole accreditation process validated why we do job costing,” Deb says. “We were able to implement new procedures and stress the importance to our employees of documenting project spend on time. We can now track job costs almost in real-time. This has allowed us to be more responsive in making necessary changes to control costs better.”
Best Practice: Documentation
Shortly after achieving NARI Accreditation, the business was hit with an OSHA inspection. “We had seven days to produce all of these documents,” Bingo explains. “Because we completed the NARI Accreditation, we had everything documented. We never would have had these things prior to accreditation.” While the company has always had a strong safety culture, it lacked a formal structure. “As part of preparation for NARI Accreditation we put together an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). We put it all down on paper, whereas before we just had it in practice,” Deb says. “When OSHA inspected us, we were able to present them with our neatly outlined and documented IIPP.” Thanks to their work in preparation for NARI Accreditation, Creative Construction of Wisconsin passed its OSHA inspection with flying colors.
Best Practice: Marketing
Since the company achieved accreditation, the owners have taken advantage of the tremendous marketing opportunities accreditation provides. “We reference accreditation and use the logo on our website, stationery and contracts,” Bingo says. “We share the value of accreditation with our customers. It’s a cornerstone of our marketing message. We are proud to be one of the first accredited companies in the country.”
And their company’s accreditation has boosted their business’ image. “Our customers respond very positively and are assured we are a reputable company,” he adds. “We are not going to be the lowest bid, but we’re nationally accredited and I’m a Certified Remodeler myself, so it helps me to position the business as a premium service.”
Best Practice: Approach
Deb has some advice for organizations who are working toward accreditation: “When you first look at the compliance requirements of the program, it can be overwhelming; but you just have to break it down section by section, and tackle compliance step by step, and it becomes much less intimidating.”
During Creative Construction of Wisconsin’s preparation for accreditation, Deb was the project champion, delegating compliance tasks based on each individual team member’s strengths and ensuring everyone completed their assigned work on time and correctly. “The goal was to do one section per week so we could get it done in two months,” she explains.
Bingo believes NARI’s Accredited Remodeling Company Program will have a profound and lasting impact on the remodeling industry, “It will help us increase the professionalism of the industry and transform how it is viewed by clients, by helping all of us build better remodeling companies.” |QR