What does Education and Accounts Receivable have in common?

Gas tanks, lawns, computers, accounts receivable and education all have something in common!
Let’s see if I can make my case.

1. The lowly gas tank — When I was a kid on our ranch and wanted to use the pickup, my dad always checked the oil — he didn’t care if I ran out of gas, but the oil was different; run out of gas you were out walking; run out of oil and you were out of business. This is like job scheduling and operating capital: Run out of materials, you finish late; run out of capital and you don’t finish — so checking the business “gas tank” is important; it’s an early lesson and your business plan is the “dip stick.”

2. The Lawn — Drive down a nice neighborhood street and one home really stands out, it’s not new but the lawn looks better. Image: It doesn’t just happen. It takes cultivating, regular attention, organization and maintenance to not only look good but to also be strong and healthy. This works for employees, too. A lesson that remodeling companies have to learn (sometimes the hard way) but an important lesson nonetheless — build good company roots and you will project a better image.

3. The Computer — Just when you really need it to work fast, your monitor goes “blue screen” on you — it happened to Bill Gates. No one is free of the random computer glitch, but some of our hardware and a lot of our software have usually celebrated too many birthdays without being updated. Things move slower on your computer and maybe even move wrong. We can get our computers fixed, but what could we have done with the time we spent nursing the old box along. We could have that time really learning our software and making good records? A simple lesson and if practiced keeps you from getting the “blues.”

4. Accounts Receivable — No problem? The only time you don’t have to worry about your receivables is when you don’t have any. (That can be good OR bad.) In remodeling, when the accounts receivable aging report needs three columns titled — Current, Hope, and Please — then, you know you should be saying, “Houston, we have a problem.” Planning for receivables and collecting them promptly, (which means the work is complete and right), requires planning and attention. This is a vital lesson and is only “no problem” if you make it that way.

My point? You already know all that stuff. But is it all working for you? Education is the operable word in all four scenarios above. In October, thousands of new remodelers, wannabes and veterans attended the Remodeling Show in Chicago. They were there working on their educational “receivables.” They are raising capital to spend for expansion and for better “roots” to improve employee performance and productivity.

Here’s the big question: Why don’t we pay the same attention to keeping the business sharp as we do to getting paid? It’s time to fill up with gas, do maintenance and planning, get updates and upgrades because education is EVERYTHING to the successful remodeling company.

It would be cool if we could hear something just once and never forget it — like touching a hot stove — but we need reenforcing. There’s another great education event coming in February, the International Builders Show in Orlando, lots of remodeling scoop there. Do it! My favorite saying is: Remodeling is a good get-rich-slow scheme. Educate your company — stay smart and it will pay for your kids’ college and your retirement, the voluntary one. Don’t bother with education and you’ll still get retired, OK, but it may not be voluntarily . . . While you’re here.