NAHB Remodeler of the Month: Leadership Starts Locally

by Kacey Larsen

Clint Lovette, CGR, CAPS
Lovette Design + Build
Birmingham, Ala.

Title: President

Year company founded: 2005

Number of employees: 7

How did you choose this career, and how has your background and degree in business management helped you?

I went to school knowing I wanted to start my own company and run a business, but I just wasn’t sure what that business was going to be. After a decade of working in the corporate world and remodeling three of my own houses, I decided my passion for design and problem solving would fit well with this industry. I have the mentality that my job is to run a successful and healthy business, and the fact that I love being in the remodeling business is just a bonus.

How has the remodeling profession changed since you’ve been involved?

Technology, technology and more technology—whether it’s providing an online portal for your clients to login and view everything about their project, smart home technology for every aspect of the home or using an app to measure the exterior of the home. When I started in this industry, I couldn’t imagine taking a few pictures of a home and within an hour I would have the entire takeoff for the roof, windows, doors, siding, etc., at my fingertips. We now use a camera system to can the entire project and then send a link to our subs so they virtually “walk” the job while putting their bids together. Technology has enhanced the things we are good at and changed the client experience for us.

Your website details “The Lovette Difference.” How did the items listed make the cut, so to speak?

I actually started my company as an investor flipping houses. I like to call these few years before the [Great Recession] my “Master’s Degree in Remodeling.” When the crash of 2008 altered my course, I decided to create a company that focused on remodeling for clients instead of my investment properties. I was out in the field performing the work, but I was also on the other side of the table dealing with other contractors and subs. I based our business model on everything I found frustrating with this industry: Communication, scheduling and budgeting were at the top of my list, and these are the things that helped create the Lovette Difference.

Your company has been recognized among GuildQuality’s Customer Satisfaction Leaders. What have you found helps with clients’ satisfaction?

We have been a GuildMaster Award Winner from GuildQuality every year since 2013. I think this is a result of our core values but also setting expectations on the front end with a client.  The more you can communicate, the more you can eliminate surprises. We work in an industry where surprises are sometimes unavoidable, but if you communicate and are transparent with your clients, you can eliminate much of the stress involved with surprises.

What tips can you share or lessons learned that help your team with delivering the exceeding of expectations and hassle-free process?

I am always telling our team that communication is the warm, fuzzy blanket that our client loves to wrap themselves in before they go to bed. An email, phone call or daily log in our project management system shows our client that we are focused on their project and giving them the attention they deserve. Allowing a phone call, email or text to go unanswered is like going to bed being angry at your spouse—it only makes it worse in the morning. I also tell our team to never communicate a potential problem or answer an issue with an email or text. Pick up the phone or have a face-to-face conversation and talk through problems with a client. Verbal communication is rarely misunderstood unlike written communication.

What is your focus as a remodeler/for your business?

I’m focusing on positioning my company for growth to meet the demand we are seeing in the market right now and what is predicted in the near future. This has more to do with working on internal processes so that we have a healthy, sustainable and scalable company while delivering an excellent client experience.

What is your No. 1 source of leads right now?

Our best leads are always referrals from our past clients, but our largest source of leads definitely comes from the digital world. It’s a combination of our website, Google searches, Houzz, social media and third-party articles. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what works the best, which is why we do a little of everything. We will have a prospect call the office and say they saw our truck in their neighborhood, but when I get to their house they have a magazine open on the countertop with an article about us, mention they saw our jobsite sign at their neighbor’s house, and also saw us mentioned in a Facebook group. The more exposure we have to a prospect the better positioned we are to receive that phone call when they are ready to remodel.

Have you seen a change to the average job size and/or types of projects clients are seeking?

We have increased our average job size by 40 percent in the last two years. This has been a result of focusing on our best types of projects but also a result of the market demands. What used to be just a kitchen remodel is now an entire first-floor remodel. I think the confidence of the consumer in regards to investing in their home is really high right now.

Finding qualified labor is a challenge. Are you hiring this year, and how are you going about finding the right people for your company?

We are hiring this year in the field and in the office. I find that our best source of candidates typically comes from networking. Our employees and trade contractors know our core values and who we want representing our company. Our best hires typically come from recommendations from these sources.

What is the biggest challenge right now for your business?

I think the labor shortage is the biggest issue for the foreseeable future. This is true in every aspect of the construction industry, whether it’s commercial or residential construction. I see the residential side having a bigger long-term issue with this as the commercial construction companies have the resources to throw at training centers and educating school system to implement programs in their schools. Residential construction companies are usually small businesses or sole proprietorship and don’t have the resources much less the time to go out and train or educate the younger generation on the opportunities that exist. This is why it’s incredibly important that our local, state and national associations have the support and membership of these small companies. They can create that voice we need and dedicate the time, resources and energy toward tackling this and many other challenges.

What is the biggest opportunity in the remodeling market?

I believe that aging-in-place opportunities will only continue to grow as the baby boomer generation ages but also as our society continues to evolve. I see more and more prospects in their 40s who aren’t will or able to move their parents into a nursing home. The need for remodeling a home to a multigenerational setup is becoming a big opportunity. I also think that the millennials will continue to drive the smart home and energy independent market. As this generation transitions into buying more traditional homes, the need to retrofit those needs will become a niche that remodelers will have to be ready for.

Where do you go to look for solutions and ideas for your business?

Anywhere I can! I like to browse trade magazines for ideas and also listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks while driving around to sales calls and jobsites. My best source is my peer group that I belong to called Remodelers Advantage. I meet with 10-plus remodeling companies twice a year and then speak once a month on a conference call where we share ideas, struggles and topics of interest. These people essentially act as my board of directors and help me solve any problems or challenges I face in my business.

What does being part of NAHB Remodelers mean to you?

First of all, it’s just a great group of people with a sincere dedication to making our industry stronger. I feel a strong obligation to this industry to make it better for our clients, more enjoyable for my employees and a viable opportunity for future generations. NAHBR spends an enormous amount of time working on education, advocacy issues and connecting remodelers to resources you couldn’t have as a small business.

What first drew you to become a member of your local chapter, and what keeps you involved?

I was approached by a long-time member at one of our supplier’s showrooms and encouraged to come to a meeting. He was a respected remodeler in the community, and I thought I should see what it was all about. There were about 40 people at that first meeting, and I couldn’t believe that a room full of competitors were collaborating and sharing ideas. I realized this group had a larger view of our industry, and while we were competitors, they knew that there was plenty of business to go around as long as we could elevate the standards of our industry to benefit the consumer.

You’ve held numerous roles as part of GBAHB Leadership, HBAA and NAHB, including serving as the 2018 Workforce Development Chair at GBAHB and being a 2018 NAHB Young Professionals Committee Chair. How have these roles impacted you in your own business and/or community?

As small business owners and remodelers, we tend to forget how we are viewed by people outside our industry since we are involved in it on a daily basis. These roles have forced me to get out into the community and hear how people view construction and trades in general. Whether it’s a young professional struggling to get the education they need to improve themselves and advance their career or a ninth-grade student struggling because they know that college isn’t the path meant for them but don’t see any good alternatives, these roles have inspired me to be more engaged with the younger generation and show them how rewarding this industry can be. I have a 13-year-old son and I’m starting to see the dialogue change in his circles that you don’t have to go to college to have a rewarding and successful career. We’re making progress but we still have a long way to go.

What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?

Understand your numbers and you will work less and earn more. Unless you understand what it takes to run a healthy and profitable business, you will never serve your clients, employees, family or friends the way they deserve to be served.

What motivates you every day?

As a business owner, I love being a coach to our employees and watching them grow and have success. As a remodeler, I love the creativity that every day brings. I love to solve problems, and I get bored easily with mundane tasks. I’m motivated by solving our clients’ problems and seeing them thrilled with the results.

Anything else you’d like to mention about career accomplishments?

  • Recognized as Remodeler of the Year for 2018 by the Home Builders Association of Alabama (HBAA).
  • Also in 2018, served as chairman of the GBAHB Remodelers’ Council and Past President and Executive Committee as well as Investment Committee Chair, Nominating Committee Chair and Workforce Development Chair.
  • For the HBAA, Executive Committee Presidential Appointee in 2018 after serving as the 2017 Remodelers Chair.
  • Served as NAHB Chair of Remodelers Learning & Content Sub-committee, Young Professionals Committee Member and as a Remodelers Board of Trustee for 2017 and 2018. QR

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