Miller: The younger people are doing things I don’t remember the mature companies doing. They’re asking whether they should be design-build, should they be architect-driven or should they have a showroom. I want to see some of these more mature companies bring in some pups to nip at their heels and get them out of the emotional and psychological doldrums they’ve been through and start reinvigorating the energy of the company.
QR: Remodelers Advantage also has a lot of mature members who have remained incredibly successful through the downturn. What’s their secret?
Romero: These members implemented what they learned about basic fundamental financial analysis. They got a handle on receivables, made payables current, got out of debt, managed their assets, understood their balance sheet, put a marketing calendar together and created a cushion, which got them through ’08 and ’09. By mid-’10 their success depended on how flexible they were to change, how deep their pockets were, or how much of their balance sheet they were willing to loan against.
Miller: I just finished facilitating our high-volume group at Iris Harrell’s company [Harrell Remodeling, Mountain View, Calif.] and that company does everything right. This company has fought through every issue other companies have fought through; however, they have a few things in place that allowed them to be more flexible. One of them is an ESOP [employee stock ownership plan]. Iris is a former teacher, and she’s really good at getting everybody in the company involved in the issues. Imagine how well any company would do if they had more than one owner dominating the conversation!
QR: What are Roundtables members most interested in now to keep moving forward?
Miller: There is enormous interest in the development of a sales staff. Most people didn’t need to do that before 2008 because there was just so much demand you could pick and choose whom you were going to sell to. Now remodelers need to have much more in potential backlog than they’ve ever had before. Most single owners can’t create that backlog, so they need to develop a sales hiring process and an evaluation process, and they need to maintain these processes.
Romero: People are coming out of the frame of mind of “What am I going to have to do to survive this?” and now are wondering how to take everything they learned the first 20 years in business, modify it with everything they’ve just been through and come up with a new model for a successful future. That’s how we end a lot of our meetings. We reassess procedures.
QR: For someone who has never been to a Roundtables meeting but would like to attend, what advice would you give?
Romero: I would tell him or her that during the three-day meeting you’re going to be hit with no less than 50 ideas you will be burning to get back to the office and implement in the first 10 minutes. However, you need to take another day wherever the meeting was held and reduce those 50 ideas to three great company-culture-changing ideas and implement those three.
That’s the hardest part about your early indoctrination in Roundtables: You’re flooded with information and you may go back to your office and do nothing because you’re frozen by what we call “implementitis.” People really need to go into Roundtables with focus because they’ll get exponentially more out of it if they go into it with the right frame of mind.
Rosie Romero brings home-improvement experience to the Roundtables meetings he facilitates. He joined Remodelers Advantage in 1992 while a remodeler and transitioned into the role of a facilitator in the late ‘90s. After selling his remodeling business in 2002, he now focuses full time on a Saturday morning home-improvement radio show that airs on nine Arizona stations, as well as manages a contractor referral directory for the state.