McCadden: Planning the Growth of Your Remodeling Business

by Kyle Clapham
Shawn Headshot Accountant

Many remodeling business owners embark upon the joys of business ownership with little thought of where they plan to take the business. Most will tell you they plan to grow it. In reality, they don’t “plan” anything. They just dig in and assume it will happen. Without a plan for growth, new business owners put themselves and their business at the mercy of the business environment around.

Some luck out and their businesses go in a good direction. For others, the daily uncertainty of where their businesses will end up leads them and their employees down a path they were not prepared for, and they may not yet have the skills or knowledge to navigate. Lacking a plan, they blindly let it happen. They are also blind about the best way to move forward.

Growing a business isn’t just accomplished by boosting your revenues. To properly and profitably grow a business, think of it like a jointer tool in your woodworking shop. The tool works well because all its many parts work well together. For example, the infeed and outfeed tables of that machine need to be calibrated to properly line up with each other and cutting edges all need to be sharp.

It also needs to be plugged into the right power supply. Lastly, the user must be properly trained to operate the machine. Unless all these things are considered, the tool, the operator and the desired end product can be at risk.

Having Systems as Opposed to a System

Remodelers talk about working on and improving the systems in their businesses. Working on the business to improve things is a good thing. However, they often mistakenly think of and treat each system as if it is a stand-alone tool in the shop. Each tool individually may work well on its own, but are those tools all working together?

Think of your business as a collection of systems. Think of it as one system with a bunch of parts whose functions should all be considered simultaneously and work well together. In other words, don’t make the mistake of allowing your business to become a collection of disparate parts.

Plan ahead to make sure you have all the cogs you need and that they all properly mesh together. If not, like a machine, the cogs of your business will grind against each other and collectively wear out. Also, consider that like a machine, if you let its parts all wear out, it may not be practical to fix it; you made need to scrap it and get a new machine.

Grow Your Individual Components with Balance

As a business owner you will need to bring balance to all of its component parts. If you only consider and work on one component at a time, and still let the business grow before the other parts are brought up to par, the entire machine will be at risk. I am not suggesting you don’t work on one thing at a time. By planning ahead about where you want to take your business, you can slowly but intentionally work on each required component, getting them all ready before you turn on the growth switch.

This method may feel slow when you are excited about growing. Don’t fall into the temptation of growing too fast. Sometimes the slow way is actually the fast way. If you grow too fast without being properly prepared, you will likely burn up potential profits and a lot of time reacting to the daily fires caused because your system really wasn’t ready yet. Profit should be a required consideration of growth. If you allow growth without profit it may never be realized, and your machine will inevitably fail.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Like me, I can assume that you went into business without any formal business training. That can be good and bad. I say good because if you really knew what you were going to get yourself into, you might not have done it! It’s a great industry and career, and I feel blessed I was able to participate in it and contribute.

The lack of formal business training is also bad because if you guess at what to do to grow your business and each time a problem surfaces, it can get very frustrating and even very expensive. The good news is there are plenty of people who have grown their remodeling businesses ahead of you and have already paid the costs related to making lots of mistakes along the way. Rather than reinvent the wheel, take the time needed to find these people and learn from them.

Back when I got started in business, there was no internet with the great depth of information that now exists out there and is easily found using a search on your browser. I had to rely on live seminars and articles in the many industry magazines, including this one, to find out what I needed to be ready for as I grew my business. Today, you can bookmark the pages you find and want to go back to for help as your business grows.

Back in the day, I actually used three-ring binders to organize articles and handouts by topics. I eventually moved to scanning and saving that information on my computer. As I realized what I would need as my business grew, I purposely saved the information so it would be on hand when I was ready for it. I encourage you to do the same.

By planning ahead and doing the research as you dream and make plans about your business future, your depth of understanding of what it will take will be enhanced; but more importantly, with time it will evolve. By thinking about growth well before it happens, you may end up accomplishing it way differently and way better than if you just let it happen.

Be a master of your future by being intentional about where you want to go with your business. Make it happen much faster and with much more profit by thinking of it as a system, rather than as a bunch of parts. Be patient. Great things take time. QR

Shawn McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at shawnmccadden.com.

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