NARI: Preparing Your Remodeling Business for Growth

by Kyle Clapham

Ranney Blair, a Roswell, Georgia-based design-build remodeling firm, had its sights set on growth since the company’s inception in 2015. Owners Peter Ranney, CR, and Scott Blair understood from the beginning that to achieve this they had to deliver trusted, reliable remodeling services that would build a stellar reputation for the company in its local market.

As they built a solid reputation and demand for their services increased, and they approached the $4 million revenue mark, it became clear they needed more structure to support the growth they were experiencing. “We’re trying to build a scalable company, which means getting into a position where Scott and I are not working on the day-to-day but can instead focus on executing the bigger vision for the company,” Ranney says.

As a company grows, in order to maintain quality and support future expansion, it’s crucial to document a structured, repeatable process that can easily be replicated even as the company brings on more employees and clients. “It was simpler when we had one project manager or one designer, but then we added more personnel, and we ran into problems we never even thought about,” Ranney notes.

“The new staff had their own way of doing things, which didn’t always align with our process that was the basis of our success. We had to take the steps to document our unique processes and train every staff member to those specific ways our company operates.” Creating standard operating procedures not only creates consistency in service delivery, but it also protects the company from knowledge loss as long-term team members move on to new opportunities, and new employees join the company.

The two partners recognized that going through the process of becoming a NARI Accredited Remodeling Company could help them implement the essential management components to support the company’s future growth. The accreditation program is based on a standard that outlines the management elements characteristic of successful remodeling companies.

“It was important to us to set our company apart from our competition by achieving this credential; but more than that, we viewed the accreditation process as a means for us to build out the management structure we felt we needed to grow sustainably,” Ranney says. “The accreditation process forced us to evaluate and strengthen the areas we were weak in.”

As they implemented the management components—business management, financial operations, production, human resources, and marketing and sales—the owners developed a more data-driven mindset. “The accreditation compliance process forced us to start evaluating our projects’ financial performance more closely, which helped us be more profitable on the next projects,” Ranney notes. “We really fine-tuned our job-costing process to make sure we understood our variances, slippage and grippage. Long-term, this will help us maintain and grow our margins.”

Marketing was another area where evaluating performance data became a standard practice. “For steady growth, we had to develop a marketing plan and implement a system to evaluate where leads are coming from, where leads that are closing are coming from, so we can understand where to spend our dollars for the biggest return,” Ranney says.

The partners also worked to build a team they could rely on for the day-to-day, so they can focus on growing the business. “As we grew to eight employees and are looking to add two more in the next couple of months, building out our employee handbook was crucial, so our staff understands what is expected of them and what our company provides them as a good place to work and build a career.”

Staff training also took center stage as the business grew. “Scott and I realized we spent a lot of time in coaching and trying to improve ourselves, but we weren’t empowering our staff as much to participate in training opportunities to improve their performance and grow in their careers.” The goal was to build the skill set and confidence of the team to make decisions, Ranney says.

“I tease my employees that I’m trying to forget about construction because that’s why they’re here. It’s been a shift in mindset; I’m now focusing on being a better leader because leading a growing company is different from where we started when we were out there with tool belts and actively managing the projects.”

As part of the accreditation process, Ranney chose to enroll in NARI’s Build a Better Business Workshop because as a busy business owner, “It was difficult to get myself to dedicate the time and effort needed to improve our company structure. The workshop helped me tackle each component in a structured way and provided a deadline for completion. It was also extremely helpful that as part of my workshop registration, I received a full slate of editable templates for policies and standard operating procedures for every part of my business.”

Ranney Blair submitted its documentation for review by an independent accreditation assessor who, after a thorough review, recommended the company for accreditation.

“It was difficult, and it really showed us that NARI Accreditation serves as an excellent benchmark our industry should strive for and our clients can rely on to identify quality remodeling partners. This process certainly helped Scott and I build a better business and we plan to continue to improve and build on the work we’ve already done,” Ranney says. QR

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