In the remodeling industry, business automation systems are scarce as contractors struggle to deal with busy schedules and day to day challenges. However, taking the time to develop that business process automation system is often the very thing that would improve a remodeling contractor’s ability to meet these challenges and improve their overall quality life as a bonus.
This is exactly what Randall Soules of Scientific Remodeling System has spent years helping remodelers achieve: Randall works with remodelers, helping them systematize their business so they can have more free time, less stress, and higher profit margins.
In this episode of the PME 360 Powering Business Growth Show, Ron Rodi, Jr and Ryan Paul Adams interview Randall and delve into how to grow your remodeling business and make your life easier at the same time by creating business process automation systems that work for you.
Tune in for insights from one of the best remodeling business coaches out there!
"I don't just talk business. You have to have a successful life to have a successful business.”
"We always set the expectations. This is what we're going to do, this is what is going to happen next. We keep doing that throughout the job."
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Put Your Remodeling Business on Auto-Cruise with Randall Soules of Scientific Remodeling System
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Put Your Remodeling Business on Auto-Cruise with Randall Soules of Scientific Remodeling System
Ron: Good morning!
Welcome to PME360 Powering Business Growth Show. Each session, we discuss proven ways with our industry experts to help power growth for your home remodeling business.
Please listen in as our experts provide practical tips that you can immediately apply to help power growth for your small to mid sized remodeling business.
I’m your host Ron Rodi, Jr.
Joining me today as always is the incomparable founder of PME360, Ryan Paul Adams. Ryan, good morning!
Ryan: Hey, good morning Ron!
Ron: Also very excited to have us today, one of our industry experts, founder of Remodelerbiz.com as well as ScientificRemodelingSystem.com, which is a membership site whose purpose is to help remodelers systematize their business so they can have more free time, less stress and higher profit margins.
Please welcome Mr. Randall Soules. Randall, good morning!
Randall: Good morning!
Ryan: Good morning Randall!
Ron: Thank you for being here with us.
Randall: Glad to be here. It’s really an honor to be in your podcast.
Ryan: We’re excited to have you.
Ron: So Randall, tell us about a little more. We are going to dive into why it’s important to have a system.
Why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit more about yourself?
Randall: I’m going to start off with what I do currently. I’m a writer and I coach and educate remodelers using those two sites you’ve mentioned.
But today, I really want to talk about my past experiences. I am a retired remodeler and I have 38 years that I worked in that. Primarily, it was in the design and build business. We did high-end kitchens, bathrooms, master suites and whole house renovations.
Ron: So you’ve got significant experience within the field and you felt that at what point Randall did you decide to want to do the shift?
Randall: Well, about 4 years ago, I made that shift. I just felt that I’ve done it for so long and constantly. There was no break and I said I wanted to try something else.
And I love the internet. I love technology. So I combined that. And eventually, it worked into helping remodelers.
Ron: So let’s talk a little bit about, Randall, for the people listening in here, tell us about Scientific Remodeling System and how it works.
You’ve told us why you’ve developed it but let’s talk a little about it. Tell us more.
Randall: It’s a very simple course. It’s made up of modules starting with sales, production and marketing.
I start out with sales because I want to teach people right away that of they have some leads in the hopper, how to sell that leads and start to generate some money.
And then go into production.
I know it kind of sounds backwards, starting with the tail end. But if they sell that job then I want to teach them how to produce in the best way possible.
Ryan: No it makes sense.
Randall: And I will give them examples of the things they shouldn’t do and the things they should do.
We go over the pre-construction conference which is a very strong point. Then, my payment schedule which is not known that well in the industry but I used it for 25 years and I got almost 100% payment from everybody which is exceptional in the remodeling field.
Ryan: That’s huge.
Ron: Looking here, the 3 core areas: sales, production and marketing.
We could probably talk about those 3 areas for quite a long time. Give us the reasons why people come to you.
Randall: They come to me because of my experience and I have a different way of talking to people.
I blend life philosophies and business. I just don’t talk business because I think that you have to have a successful life to have a successful business.
And so I guess I’m kind of, even though I’m a business coach, I’m a life coach also. Because I don’t think you can skip around that.
I’ll tell you how I get into my remodeling business, which was by kind of an accident. I went 3 years in the University of Virginia studying Mechanical Engineering of all things. And after 3 years, I decided it wasn’t what I wanted because I love to work with my hands.
So I came back to Chattanooga and rode my bicycle through the Blue Ridge Mountains. That’s all I had – my bicycle and my pack.
And I got a job at a factory. One day I was in the owner’s office and there was a carpenter there. I said, “Hey! How could I get a job doing what you’re doing?”
And he said, “Go inside and see Doc.”
And I went inside to see Doc. Doc happened to be one of the biggest regional contractors in Chattanooga. And he gave me a job as a laborer. And I was thrilled to death to get that. He said, “How are you going to get to work?”
And I said I got a bike. And he laughed saying, “You won’t last long.”
Ron: You gag in and you made it happen, right?
Randall: Within a year, I was in the Carpentry Sponsorship program and I worked my way up. In about 5 years, I started my own business.
Ron: That’s fantastic.
Ryan: I think every successful people I know have got somebody they want to prove wrong. It sounds like that guy, that person (the time in your life) you said, “You know what, I’m going to prove you wrong. I can make through this – whether it’s on a bicycle or I’m going to walk or whatever. I am going to do this thing.”
Randall: And I remember the first job they gave me. To compound this, they put me in an attic, in the middle of summer insulating it.
Ryan: Nice task for you. To see if you’d break.
I’ve been up there many times. And it’s not fun. And the last time I was up there, I said, “I’m done. I’m changing things.”
Ron: So Randall, what is it that you feel you really do very well in your space? What is it that motivates you and keeps you going right now?
Randall: Well, it’s always been my clients. My father brought me up with great work ethics. And, we just respect and honor our clients. We bond with them a lot.
They’re just not business to us. When we sign a contract, with a client, we call it taking a bungy jump.
And in a bungy jump, you have one option and that is to go down. When we sign a contract, we have one option and that is to fulfill what we said we’re going to do.
Ron: And I am sure you are going to teach your members that same mantra, right?
Randall: Absolutely! You can’t be successful without that.
Ron: What are some of the biggest lessons have you learned over time? I mean, that’s good advice there – making sure you treat people the right way, making sure you form an alliance and partnership with them.
What are other lessons that come to mind as you go through your years? Reflect back on not only what you are doing now but with the remodeling space.
Randall: I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the business. And that’s the only way we learn is by making mistakes. You can’t be successful if you just have smooth seas.
So go back to a mistake we made early on in our business. I just partnered up with a guy. And we really grew our business fast. We’ve got 4 to 5 crews going. And I had a job that was at some distance. I had a lead carpenter out there, who was doing great.
We just trusted him and let him take the job. We didn’t go out there. And about the middle of the job, we invoiced them.
A week passed, we called him, “Hey where’s our money?”
He said, “Oh it was in the mail.”
We waited another week, we didn’t get it. We called them up, “We have some problems out here. You need to come to see and talk to us.”
We went out there and they had this long list of errors, defects and things. And what had happened, we had allowed them to work on the job, bring in their own people to do some parts of the job while we were working.
And long story short, we had to walk away from that job and leave a lot of money on the table. That’s the last time we did that. What we learned from that were two things: never get paid by mail and never let a client work on the job during a project.
Our process became this – we invoice you on a Wednesday, we pick up the check by hand on Thursday and deposit that in Friday.
It works perfectly because a problem will never fester if that happens, they’re going to tell you before to give you that check, “We have a problem.”
And that was a simple little thing but it made a difference.
The second thing was, we never let a client work on a job. If that ever happened, we’re going to finish the contract, punch it, get paid, they could do their work and we start with another contract.
Most people said, “We don’t even want to do that, just take the whole package.”
Ron: It sounds like to me that was a start of some of your systems that you’ve developed. So let’s talk more about them. Tell us about your building systems and how they work.
Randall: We started out with selling. We had a system for selling. And we go in with a presentation book, which hardly anybody in this city was using.
I think most people won’t use it today unless they are in the exterior contracting business.
It was a different book. It just contained our contracts and basically, what we did is we always set the expectations.
When they called in the very first day, we give them a spiel right there and say, “This is what we are going to do. We are glad you called us and this is what will happen next.”
And we set expectations. And they say, “Oh great! Thanks!”
And that means that they’ve bought into the system already. We keep doing that throughout the job. We always set the expectations. I like to use the old Holiday Inn expression which is very old now, “Come to Holiday Inn, there are no surprises.”
Ryan: That’s huge.
Ron: Especially within the remodeling field. People want to make sure that they have a reputable firm and in addition to the research they can do online, they also want to make sure you are telling them the truth and treat them right.
And really getting fear out of the way. And telling them exactly what’s going to happen is probably the best way to go about it, wouldn’t you say?
Randall: Absolutely it is!
Ron: So you got a sales system that you talked a little bit about. And I’m sure you got tidbits and lot of little pieces of information. So we won’t give them all away. But I think it’s important that you have a sales process and a sales system.
Let us talk about production now. Tell us a little bit more about production.
Ryan: But before we get into that, there was one thing I read in Randall’s A Remodeler’s Manifesto, which I recommend everybody to go download. It’s really good and well written.
Randall: It’s in remodelerbiz.com. You can go there.
Ryan: He really made a good point that jumped out at me, he said as far as systems go, you’ve got to panic early.
And what he means by that and Randall you can jump in anytime, is that you want to put systems in place that prevent a situation from ever happening again but before that problem arises.
You want to start looking ahead, nipping in the bud these issues that might arise.
I know it’s work. It’s a pain in the butt. Nobody likes developing systems. But documenting these things will finally allow you at some point to take a step back and I just thought it was a great point that you made in there.
I think it adds a ton of personal value just like you’ve mentioned and of course, business value.
And those are the things that end up building your asset, which is your business. We are all building an asset, whether we choose to sell it someday or give to our family or whatever.
It’s all about the systems you create.
Randall: That is so true.
Ryan: I just thought it was great.
Randall: Panic early. I love that saying.
Ron: Yeah. That is a great thing.
Randall: Concisely saying something, be prepared.
Ron: Considering the alternative, panicking later when you are trying to fulfill a job and not having a system and how to do it right.
Ryan: Something you can use over and over again is things in your business right now, you should dedicate a day in a week, whatever it is.
Friday afternoons are good for me. I just sit down and look at issues that are arising in the business. Find ways to solve those in a repeatable manner.
And I don’t think it has to be that complicated. It can just be a checklist you do on Word or whatever. It can even be in a notepad. Then, photocopy it a hundred of times so that your people will know how you do things and what you expect.
Randall: It’s vitally important.
Ryan, how many people have you asked, “Do you write your systems down?”
Ryan: In the remodeling business, what I’m seeing is that the ones that making the jump over a million mark are the ones who’ve started to document things long ago.
The ones who are still struggling, the 500,000 to 700,000 range, which is not a bad business if your margins are good and you have limited staff.
But typically, that’s what I’m seeing, they are not the best in documenting things. They are running around like crazy.
We ask that a lot and very, very few do it. I’d say less than 5% of people we talk to.
Ron: Here’s a question for you. This can go to Randall. How many businesses that you talk to (in percentage) don’t have anything in place at all?
Randall: This may surprise you Ron, it’s like a 100%.
It is awful. They are running a business. They are working hard. But they don’t write it down.
Ryan: And that’s what drives me crazy. I love the remodeling industry. There is so much potential money to be made faster, easier and better than a lot of the industry I see.
But there are so many business owners who can’t get out their own way. And they just can’t take a step back and be like, “You know what, let’s make it simpler. Let’s make this easier. Let’s start doing the things that we need to do to be successful.”
Then, you have that good conversation. And the next day, they’re gone. They’re running around chasing shiny objects again.
It will either come to a point where they make that decision to make a change or not. It’s hard to change when say you get pass 25 to 26 years old. It’s hard to make real solid changes in your life.
Randall: It reminds me of the early conferences we go to.
We go to remodeling shows and you just write notes caucusly all day long. The next day, you bring the notes home and you put in the pile. That’s it. You’re back in your routine. You’re just busy, busy, busy.
Ron: It takes 7 days to do things consistently everyday to make it a habit, right?
There are so many helpful tools that are available today. In addition to some of the topics we’ve talked about in our podcasts. Even CRM systems. So many different tools.
Randall, tell us about a little more about your program, your offer and how you take them through each system here.
Randall: I used to dole out one session a week. Now, I just give the whole thing to them at once and let them work on it.
What I found is, it takes them a long time to work through because there’s so much in it.
I deliver in PDF and audio. And the audio has been a great success, because they can listen to it over and over.
But there’s so much more to work through on each lesson that it takes, even though you can read it in an afternoon possibly, it’s about 300 pages. It would take a year of good work to put those systems in place.
Ron: So individuals who have access to this membership site and it looks like you have a ton of information here from checklist to contracts, to job costing and sales and productivity. So it’s a membership program correct?
Randall: Yes it is.
They just pay a single fee. It’s not a recurring fee. They just pay a single fee and they receive the whole program there on my list. Any new product that I made like I put on a really neat spreadsheet last week (and I just improved it this week) that goes to my premium members.
I have free members and they get a limited amount of stuff. My premium members get anything that are really useful.
Ron: Fantastic! It’s extremely helpful.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the things you’ve learned in addition to what we’ve already discussed. What are some of the biggest mistakes or failure and how you’ve learned from them?
You did talk about that already. But not to beat that point, I think one of things we can conclude there is pretty obvious. Some of the biggest mistakes that people have is not having a system in place.
And really, it scares me to say that 100% of people even if you improve one area, even if you just concentrate on just improving your sales process, how much of a difference you feel can make to a remodeling business?
Randall: It will make a huge difference. As you said, any step you take to improve is going to better your business a lot.
To make a point, let’s say you spend an hour a week doing something. Every week, you spend an hour then you write a system and you reduce that down to 10 minutes because you have other people doing it. You may reduce it to nothing because you got someone else doing it. That’s 4 hours a month and 48 hours saved in a year.
If they do that over and over again, they’re going to free up a lot of time. They just have to see it in their little chunks and say “Oh enough.”
I write this out and delegate this. And everybody knows what to do with this at this point of the job. When this problem arises, they are empowered to do it.
Then it saves me a lot of time. I don’t have to go with this. I don’t have to teach them again, over and over, every new employee I have to teach them again how to do this.
Ron: So really if you are panicking at the beginning, one of the things I want to ask here, it came from my thought process, was how long is something like this is going to take?
Is that a common question that you get, “How long Randall? How long is it going to take you to help me? How long will it take me to go through your system?”
I know you’ve mentioned you can do it within an afternoon but really we talked about consistency and doing over and over. What are some of the things you see from the success stories of your clients?
Randall: Well I have a guy in New Zealand who was just starting out. From what I understood, last time he wrote me, he has a crew of 6 now. That’s huge.
Ryan: That’s huge.
Randall: I’ve got a student here in town who’s just really grown his company. I’d say he tripled the size of it in the past year.
It’s not that these lessons are complicated or anything. I think really, remodeling is rather simple. If you prepare well, you write everything out and you set all the expectations like I said at the beginning. When you sign a contract, it’s a pretty routine thing to finish the job.
Ryan: Because setting those expectations, you are reducing the surprises. And for the client it is a scary process, even for anybody.
And it’s a big purchase. And they don’t know what to expect. If you lay that all out in an easy to understand way and you control that process, you are eliminating surprises.
You’re not going to get those phone calls at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, interrupting your day when you are building your system because you’ve already designated “This is my process. This is when we meet. This is when we talk about the job updates.”
Randall: I suppose you both have read the 4-hour work week by Timothy Ferriss.
Now there’s a guy who is ruthless with his time, he runs about 3 companies. He spends 1 hour a week on emails and telephone calls because he just won’t have it any other way. He’s an incredible guy.
Ryan: And I built in some of those tips that Tim had into my own business.
I don’t check email on my phone ever. It’s not productive, it’s really hard and it interrupts your day. I said, two times a day I check my email. That’s it.
I turn off notifications on the email. And I’m an internet marketer. I’m expected to use technology.
But once you set that expectation, again with my clients, I tell them just what I told you.
“This is how my process is. For me to get great stuff done, I need to focus. And I check email at least two times a day.
I will get back to you. Don’t worry about it. If there’s an emergency, we have a different way to handle that and this is what you need to do.”
Randall: It is a commendable discipline.
Ryan: It was the only way I was able to do bigger and better things and focus on building the asset versus getting interrupted.
You know you cannot get easily interrupted a hundred times a day with social media, phone, email and all of the stuff that’s going on.
Ron: And at then end of the day, you’ve got nothing done.
You know Ryan, the world doesn’t end when you shut down.
Ryan: It doesn’t at all.
Ron: Yeah you are right.
Ryan: It is a scary thing not to answer your phone. It is a scary thing to not answer your email when it is not your designated time. I get it. But it’s the only way to focus. It doesn’t drain your energy too.
Getting interrupted that many times completely will drain you at the end of the day. You will have nothing left.
Randall: That’s a powerful concept there. When you start to think about your energy and how you expend it. You don’t even realize that people are sapping it.
Ryan: You are absolutely right. There could be a whole other call here to talk about just energy, protecting measures.
If we talk about energy, one of the things Randall you’ve mentioned in your Remodeler’s Manifesto is building a successful company is really built around hiring great people and really that comes down to hiring people that knows things who you don’t.
Typically, hiring people who are the brightest and the smartest in your industry, whether it’s project manager or marketing team, find the best person you can possibly afford – and maybe even more.
Then it can solve all your problems more than going to the cheap end and going that way. I just see so many people make that mistake and I’ve done that too.
I’ve become a victim if this so many times. And I get frustrated and I’m wondering why things are not working out.
It’s like, “Buddy, you hired the wrong person. You went for the lowest guy on the price chain here and you are expecting great things?”
It is the definition of insanity. We all make this mistake. Learn to hire better, brighter, smarter people than you. And, your company will turn around overnight.
Randall: I don’t know if it’s just remodelers or other industries too but I think remodelers have a hard time letting go of that control.
Ryan: They do.
Randall: They’re very independent people.
Ryan: I think, it’s most industries from what I’m seeing.
Ron: Now, that’s a page from the Good to Great right there.
Hire good people, get them into the bus and make sure those people can be driven.
Ryan: Yeah. And if you have the systems in place, you really only have to say things once.
“Hey this is how we do this. This is the system. Go.”
They’ll figure it out. They’ll do the work of two people or three people. And that’s where you’ll get your return and your life will become easier and better.
And you get that freedom. But you won’t get it the other way. Because you will continue to struggle saying the same things over and over and over again.
Ron: There will be successes along the way, right?
Things will happen. Things will occur. And again, if you don’t have those systems down, you are going to wind up where you are. You might land a few jobs.
I know a few of our clients right now they are landing some jobs and all of a sudden they don’t know what to do when those jobs come up.
And they completely go underground for 6 months.
And guess what, when they pop back up in 6 months, those same problems are going to be there.
They are not going to be able to get over that hump. To really get their business to the next level. To really get their life to that next level.
Ryan and Randall: Yeah. You got it.
Ron: Randall, is there anything we haven’t covered today that you want to get across to our listeners?
Randall: Well, I’d like to summarize.
To set those expectations upfront, I can’t say that enough. It is so important. Everything working.
The next thing is to start charging what you are worth.
So many remodelers, way too many are just charging low margins because they don’t think the market can stand it.
Remember we went to listen to a well-known man we didn’t even know, Walt Stoeppelwerth. And I know you know him. Walt Stoeppelwerth was the remodeling guru.
And we went to a seminar when we were a newly formed company. He told us to mark-up 50% and I was like, “Oh my God! How can we do that?”
So we went back home and said let’s try it. We’ll probably die on the line but let’s try it. And it worked.
We were amazed. So I urge people to be bold about that. And you are worth a lot of money now.
Ryan: It probably didn’t work just by you showing up and “Here’s my price.”
Like a lot of people, they’ll just give you an estimate and they have no process. It sounds to me like you are able to do that because you did the other things well.
And the price doesn’t become the first thing. What is it on the list of criteria for making a decision? Number 8? Number 9?
I mean, it’s way down the list.
Randall: We never sell on price. We go in and tell the person, “Look this kitchen is going to cost $95,000 and you better show them some value when you do that because that price is going to shock them.
But if you show them the value and they are going to be emotionally involved, they are going to go, “That’s fine with me.”
Ryan: Yeah. You got it.
Randall: It even surprised me as I did it. But I did it over and over again. Because I showed them great value.
Ryan: That’s huge.
Ron: That’s fantastic!
So Randall, for our listeners, for people who wants to get hold of you, tell us how to do that.
Randall: They can reach me either on a comment on ScientificRemodelingSystem.com or RemodelerBiz.com.
Or they can reach me on my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron: Fantastic! That website again we have ScientificRemodelingSystem.com and RemodelerBiz.com.
And as always, you can reach Ryan at www.pme360.com or www.RyanPaulAdams.com.
Randall, really appreciate you coming on today. We look forward to continued conversations in the future. Thank you for sharing your time with us.
Randall: Ron can I leave you with one last quote?
Ron: You sure can.
Randall: I really think this can have significant impact. It’s by Charles Darwin and it says,
“It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent that survives. It’s the one that is most adaptable to change.”
And we are so averse with change and we always want to stay in that what Physics call the lowest energy level.
It takes energy to get up and make those changes. And most of the people that would be successful in their business.
Ryan: Totally! You got it. It’s a great quote.
Ron: Grab change by the hand or it’s going to grab you by the throat.
Randall: I love it.
Ron: Very good gentlemen. Thank you so much for your time and have a great day.
Randall: Thank you for letting me on.
Ryan: Thank you Randall. We really enjoyed it.