Published on March 1, 2014
Show 4: Randall Soules with Scientific Remodeling System shares insightful tips on how to make incremental improvements that pay off big Kyle: Welcome to Remodelers on the Rise. I am your host, Kyle Hunt and alongside me is my co-host Ryan Paul Adams. Howdy, Ryan! Ryan: Hey! Happy Friday, Kyle! Kyle: Happy Friday to you as well. So let us get started by introducing today’s guest for our Show 4. Randall Soules has been in the remodeling industry for 39 years. Building his successful design and build company out of Alabama. He’s our second Alabama guy, how about that? He is a 3-time Chrysalis award winner, a 4 time winner of Remodeler of the Year in his local council and an NAHB Remodeler of the Month. Randall’s also a consultant to other remodelers in the industry. He’s got 2 websites that you guys can look up: www.remodelerbiz.com and www.scientificremodelingsystem.com. So welcome Randall! Randall: Hi! How are you all doing? Ryan: We are doing well Randall. Randall: Good to be here. Kyle: Randall, the focus of this show is really about you, your business and your experience. I just kind of gave you a quick intro and now I want to turn over things to you. Why don’t you briefly tell us about you personally and also your current business? Randall: Okay. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Let me make a slight correction here. I’m a few miles from Alabama but I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’ve been in the industry for a long time. I started 42 years ago. I started out as a laborer, then carpenter. And then when the economy got soft, I went ahead and started my own company. It was perfect timing. And that was in 1978, a long time ago. And I have been on my own since then. I worked into design and build and that’s where I really excelled. You know, I got my processes down, my systems down. And I absolutely love that business. That’s what I can talk day and night about. When you love a business, you think that that’s the right business to be in. Now, I help other remodelers. I decided to give up remodeling. You know, a certain point in your life where you say that it’s time to try something else. You don’t have to have to stay with the same thing until you die. And so, I learned a lot about the internet in the past 4 years – web design, podcasting, all these things that come along with technology. And I use that to teach remodelers and to help coach remodelers on the 2 sites that you mentioned, Kyle. Ryan: Well, it’s nice that you didn’t completely abandon us. You are staying in the industry which is great. I think you have a lot to offer. I read some of your stuff and it’s right on. Kyle: One thing you mentioned Randall is that you don’t have to be doing something until you die. That was a little comic but it’s like sometimes we need permission to change things up. Even if you are in the remodeling business saying, “You know what, why do I always have to do this stinky little handyman jobs when my real focus needs to be on these kitchens or additions” Or, it could be totally vice versa, “Man, this handyman type of work is exactly what I need to do.” Just because your business has been in a certain way for a certain amount of time doesn’t mean it always need to be that way. I just kind of read into what you said there a bit. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Randall: So true. So in Remodelers on the Rise, we ask a series of questions to help our listeners learn from you – someone we consider to be a successful remodeling entrepreneur. So Ryan, why don’t you go ahead and get us started with the first question? Ryan: Ok! Thanks, Kyle. All right, Randall, question #1. Can you share a success quote that you live by and an example of how you might apply that in your life or your remodeling business? Randall: Well, it comes from a book I’m re-reading right now. It’s just an incredible book. I just happened to find it. These things just kind of find me. It is called Re-inventing Yourself by Mario Alonzo Puig. And I’ll take a quote from his book. It is one of the way I live. In life, when something is really important for us and we fear the feel of emptiness, we have to have faith that when we take a step forward – despite our fear – our wings will unfold. That is such a good quote because we are all scared to step into the unknown. And in remodeling, there’s plenty of that. Ryan: There is a ton of fear. And I think people just have a lot of doubt about their abilities. Sometimes, you just have to stay in the fight. I talk about that a lot with a lot of people I’m meeting with. Just stick with it. You just never know what’s going to come out of it if you continue to stay in the fight. Randall: And yeah, just take that step forward. Go ahead in the unknown. If you are working in one part of the field and you say, “I don’t think I’m good enough to step into this field, it’s just too big for me.” Say, you want to go from handyman to design and build, which is a big step. Ryan: It is a big step. Randall: You can do that. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
You just have to have the courage to do it. As I told Ryan in the last podcast I did with him – the bungee jump, the leap of faith. Ryan: You’ve got to try. I mean, you don’t know until you try. You probably heard a million times, you’ve got to give it a try and see what happens. Kyle: There you go. Randall, next question. Share a story of a time in your journey where you encountered failure. We don’t want to dread on the negative but we can learn from times of failure in life. Take us to a time in your life, if you can tell us the story and share any lessons you learned from that. Randall: Ryan has heard this before but I haven’t had too many major failures because I don’t take a lot of risks. But, I’ve never been to court in all these years that I’ve been in remodeling. And except for this story I’m about to tell you, I’ve gotten paid about 100% of what I’m owed. But a long time ago, when we first started out, we were just booming. We had 4 to 5 crews going and I was crazy busy. We had a job at some distance and we billed them by mail. And pardon the repeat here, Ryan. Ryan: No let’s share it. Randall: So we billed them by mail. We billed them about the middle of the job. We billed them for this thing and they didn’t pay us. And we called them up, they said, “Oh the check’s in the mail. No problem.” Then we waited another week, and by this time we were about 3 to 4 weeks in arrears. Finally, I went out there to the job. And they told me, “There’s a lot of things wrong with this job. We are not going to pay you until they are corrected.” And what this couple was doing was, we had let them do some work on their own – which we never let them do again, anybody again. Ryan: You lost some control a little bit. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Randall: Yeah, I lost control. I mean, this whole thing spiraled out of control. Long story short, they brought another contractor in who billed 3 times as much as it cost to finish the job. If this had gone to court, we would have lost a lot more. So we basically just walked away from it and said, “Never again is this going to happen.” We changed our processes and we made sure this never happen again. Kyle: Were some of the processes got changed as a result of that? Randall: Well, for one, we never let anybody work on the job, during our contract, except us. If they wanted somebody else work on the job, we close out that contract and they work on it themselves. And, we started on a new contract. The other one was, we collect weekly and in person. So if they have a problem, they are going to tell you right away. And it just solved all our problems there. Our cash flow went to completely black from then on. Ryan: You are getting consistent with the revenue. And also, they can’t hide behind emails and phones. You are meeting them face to face. That is important. Kyle: You are not just going there for the money. You are also going out there to check the job. It forces you to probably manage it a little stronger as well. Randall: Yeah, yeah. Kyle: I bet you, there might be a couple of people listening to this who’d be like. “Oh, I should start doing that.” Ryan: For sure. Kyle: Very good. Randall: They really should. Kyle: Go ahead Ryan. Ryan: Was that your big AHA! moment in your business? Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Which was also the moment of turning that negative into a positive? Or is there something else that opened your eyes and changed your business for the better? Randall: The AHA! moment wasn’t really a moment as it was kind of, it just happened over time. It was when everything smoothed out and we realized that, if we followed these steps and do not deviate. We follow these steps, from the initial call to the end of the job, then that job is going to be just like clockwork. And that was so nice when we said, “You know, we don’t really have to think about it. Just follow the process and it will happen.” It became, as routine as remodeling jobs can become. Although, they are never routine. Kyle: What I love about the podcasts we’ve done with Dennis, Rob, Neil to today with you Randall is that, I think we have not had one yet where the words “process” and “systems” haven’t come up to the forefront. And I’m glad that it’s happening because it is kind of like an overarching theme. It is a never ending thing in our business but it is also something that slips under the radar. Man! We are also busy putting out fires and working on this urgent, important quadrant that, yeah, I kind of understand that process is important. But I hope what everybody’s hearing, confirming or being reminded of is that the time you are spending working on your business, improving your processes is going to lower your stress level, is going to increase your profits and is going to increase your margins. There are just so many things that come from it. Randall: Absolutely! No one is going to succeed without them. They’re just going to beat their heads against the wall. Ryan: When you have to make time for it Randall, was that something that you built into your week? Like a set day or was it just something you made sure you found some time for somewhere. Randall: We really, unfortunately, didn’t do it in the most organized fashion. When we had an issue like, “You know, we’ve got to make a change to our contract. That can never happen again.” Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
We just made these little tweaks all along, we react immediately when there was an issue. We are like, “Uhm, that’s got to change.” Ryan: So it doesn’t happen overnight! I mean it’s a process. It’s going to take time. You’re not going to solve all these in a week. So I think, that’s important for people to understand. Kyle: True! Ryan: Randall, is there something in the business or the industry right now that is exciting you? Randall: The most exciting thing for me right now is one on one coaching. I just really enjoy that. You both know this. You both have been in this. And I just enjoy helping people get over these humps that may take them years to discover. And for them to come back and say “Wow! That was so easy that way.” Ryan: It is the most rewarding part of what I do, as well. Kyle: Talk to the people listening to this call why it is important for a business owner or a remodeling business owner to have a coach. Randall: Well, it is because, I call it a knife cannot cut itself. You cannot see inside your business sometimes what other people can see. Remodelers are the most bull-headed bunch of people out there. They are like wild stallions. We are always right. We know what to do. And we don’t need anybody else telling us what to do so it is very hard to tale advice like that. But when you do, if a person is open to change, they can learn so much, so much faster. Kyle: Right! It speeds up the learning curve. Go ahead Ryan. Ryan: I think money loves speed. In all of these things, it is not like we are looking for get-rich-quick scheme or anything like that. But, it is about getting to the money faster. And I feel, a lot of times, it is just aligning yourself with people who know better than you. Especially, where you are weakest. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
And not trying to be everything in your business. It just becomes really draining. Kyle: Randall, talk to us, a little bit specifically on the production side of things. You had a couple of important notes that you wanted to make sure you got across to the remodelers listening. Why don’t you do it now, if you could. Randall: Well, when it comes to the production, the start up, just like in sales, the initial call is very important. In production, the hand-off in the beginning of that job is very important. Because when you arrive in a job, you have spent time with the customer, designing the job and getting it ready. But now, you have a bunch of new people who showed up, they’ve never met and they don’t know if they made the right decision so this first day is a tell-tale day that says, “Yeah, I am really glad that I hired them.” Or, “I made a mistake and it’s going to be trouble the whole job.” So, when you start here, you need to run through a checklist and be sure you have everything for that first day. And that everything’s set up smooth. And when they see that process, that professional approach like you go in and set dust-proofing and signs, you put the porta-toilet at exactly the right place, your tools are over here, everything’s protected and you are not hurting their property, they are going to feel very good about their decision to hire you. And then, the second thing is the importance of a pre-construction conference. As I told you, this is a large subject on how many ways you can use a pre-construction conference. But basically, my pre-construction conference was to call the owners together and usually, it’s just me. And if there was an important sub-contractor, I would bring him in, too. But usually, it’s just me. And we would open the contract and we would read the whole thing. Sometimes, it was 3 or 4 pages and we would walk around from area to area. Point out exactly what we are going to do. I took a lot of notes and we go through this whole thing- this is what we are going to do here. This is the paint you have chosen. Kyle: You finalize things. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Randall: Yeah! Then, the second purpose of the PCC that a lot of people don’t know about is a way to speak to the customer. And you don’t only write down what the customer is saying and transcribe that for them to sign but you also put in things you want to say to them. Like, “We will not allow your children in this place during work hours. And if they come in after work hours, it’s your responsibility.” Things like that are really important because this document when signed is part of your contract. Ryan: It is. Ryan: And Randall, you identified a lot of things that are important to the customer like making sure that dust isn’t flying around everywhere and controlling that problem. Because that’s a big problem if you are doing interior remodeling work. Identifying the things that are important to the customer and getting this upfront and out in the open, it’s huge. Leading to a much bigger project and process. You could also incorporate that stuff in your marketing as well. So you are already talking about the things that the other contractor is not. Kyle: Randall, I’ll get this follow up question in and we’ll move on to the lightning round. I had a client here recently who said, “The pre-construction conference, that makes sense. Yeah, I can see the value in that. But do we really have to do for every job? If it is a smaller job, if it’s a pretty simple job, do we really have to do it?” What would you say to him? Randall: I would say, “Do it.” Kyle: “But my lead carpenter’s going to be part of that. It is a smaller job, do I really need to pay him for an hour of his time just planning, for this meeting that I can take care of?” Randall: It is not so important to have your lead carpenter there. Many times, I did not. But the important thing is, they got every bit of information that came out of that meeting. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
And so did every sub-contractor that it related to. So the advice was passed on to them. If you feel like the lead carpenter should meet them at that time, that’s fine too. Ryan: It’s important to have somebody who knows what they are doing there – outlining the strategy of really what you are going to do. Randall: Right! And this is in some cases, the hand-off. I sold this job to you and now, it’s up to Ryan here to take over this job. Kyle: One other final point on it, the exclamation point. Sometimes, I hear when I talk about this with clients, “I don’t have the time to go out there to do this conference.” But when you step back a couple of inches and look at this, you realize that if you can go through this, you are taking good notes, you are confirming things and verifying things and you are explaining to sub-contractors, then the 1 hour you are investing is probably going to save you 10 to 15 phone calls down the road discussing all these issues. So investing an hour is actually going to pay yourself back probably multiple hours plus saving time, saving headaches, saving stress, etc. Randall: You hit a key point there. This saves so much time and money. It is just so important! Ryan: I find a lot of people who just aren’t going to change no matter what you tell to do. They are just not going to. It’s just too late. And there are other people who really want it. They have that desire to change, grow and be better every single day. As a consultant, you can tell within 10 minutes those people who are going to do it or the ones that won’t. Kyle: Beautiful! Let’s get into the lightning round. This is where we rapid fire through a series of questions and you continue to share your knowledge and smarts with us. Ryan, why don’t you go ahead and start us off with the first one? Ryan: All right, Randall, what is the best business advice you’ve ever received? Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Randall: Make a lot of money! Just kidding! The best business advice came from my father and it’s this, just to be a man of your word. Ryan: That’s huge. Randall: Always do what you say you are going to do. And boy! That builds confidence. Kyle: Can you share one of your personal habits that you believe attributes to your success – now and in the past. Randall: Well, I think, a routine in the morning is really important. I listen to some of your other podcasts. A guy named Eben Pagan who is a great internet marketer wrote a program called “Wake Up Productive” And I follow a lot of that. It’s just you create a routine. You get up, you drink half a liter of water, you shower, you exercise, you eat breakfast (a healthy breakfast), then, you maybe meditate a little bit and you read something educational. That’s the beginning of his Wake Up Productive. And it goes into the day. But those kinds of things really help you to have a good day. And I think you know that people who live longer have routines. Ryan: What time do you get up in the morning to get all that done? Randall: That’s not a routine. I get up when I get up, about 6 or 7. I don’t set a time unless I got an appointment. I’d like to wake up naturally. Kyle: Can you recommend a book to Remodelers on the Rise listeners? It sounds like you are an avid reader. But if there is one that you’d recommend to the remodelers who are listening, what would it be? Randall: Well, the one I just mentioned. It’s called Re-inventing Yourself. And I’d recommend this to everyone. No matter what industry there in. it’s by Mario Alonzo Puig. And the book is talking about getting to know your brain and your mental state and to control your emotions by knowing more about yourself. Becoming more aware of your possibilities. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Ryan: Sounds like a good one. I’m definitely going to check it out. Rnadall: Yeah. Kyle: The author has one of the coolest names I’ve heard for a while, too. Randall: He is Spanish. The translation is not very good, I must say. But the guy teaches at Harvard. He’s got a Law degree there. He is a doctor. He’s got every degree in the world. He is super smart. Ryan: Randall, do you have a resource of some kind that you don’t mind sharing with our listeners? And as a reminder to our audience, the resource will be available with the detailed show notes at the www.remodelerontherise.com/show4. Randall: Yeah! I’ve got a PDF and it kind of ties into the start of a job and it’s a checklist for the first day of the job. I call it “First Day Checklist.” So, they can have that. I’ll send you a copy. Kyle: Beautiful! Ryan: I’d also make sure everyone gets to be sent over your site and download the manifesto that you’ve created. You want to talk about that at all? Randall: The manifesto is just a short discourse about my life in business. It is kind of an inspirational tale to help remodelers want to do more, want to grow their business. Kyle: Great! Here’s one of the final questions. It is a tough one, a deep one. Here we go. Imagine you woke up one tomorrow morning Randall, and you are in the same exact business. You knew no one, had no sales, and only had $500 of start up money. Your life depended on you selling something in the next 7 days. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter are taken cared of. But all you have is your MacBook Pro and $500. Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
What would you do in the next 7 days to survive and generate new business? And remember your life depends on it. Randall: That’s a good question, how to get a job and get paid in 7 days. First thing I do is buy a domain. The second thing I do is build a website. Then I would do some social media work. Do some tweets, LinkdIn. Try to build a community quickly there. Then I would probably go to several of the chamber meetings that have breakfasts. There is a lot of chapters around so you can go to those. You pay $10 and you go to those chapters. Print business cards, talk to people about your experience, have a good elevator pitch. Then see if you can ask some people out to lunch. And start to share with them, ask if they have somebody who might use your services and I think, a good week at that, I’ll have a job. Kyle: Network, network, network. Randall: Yup! It is all networking and marketing. Kyle: Does anyone of you know what a BLB is? Ryan: BLB? No. Kyle: Randall? Randall: Bacon, lettuce, bacon? Kyle: It is an acronym I made up. Breakfast. Lunch. Or beer. Walk up to these people you want to network with and say, “Would you like to have a BLB with me?” And their response would be – Kyle and Ryan: “What is that?” Kyle: “Breakfast, lunch or beer. When can I take you out?” Kind of a clever way to make them chuckle a little bit. And make them remember you. You guys would never forget what BLB is, right? Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Randall: That’s a great tip Kyle! Because the thing you want to do when you first meet a person is say something that’s quick and engaging and creates a question. Ryan: Yes, I like that. Randall, finally, is there anything else you want to share today? And just let the audience know where else they can get hold of you. Randall: I think we said most of it. It’s been great talking to you! I just really enjoy getting with you on these things. Kyle: Excellent! Can you tell everybody your website addresses again? How they can get hold of you? Randall: www.scientificremodelingsystem.com and www.remodelingbiz.com. And they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ryan: Excellent! Kyle: Awesome! Well, thank you Randall for coming on to the show today. We really appreciate you sharing your story. And just a friendly reminder to all our listeners, please check us out at www.remodelersontherise.com. If you could take 2 minutes to review and rate our show on iTunes, the more reviews and ratings we get there, the better chance other people like yourself can find the show. So we appreciate you all tuning in. And to our guest Randall, thanks again for being on the show! Ryan: Thank you, Randall! Randall: Thank you for having me here. I really appreciate it. You all have a good Friday! Ryan: Take care! Interviews with Today’s Top Remodeling Entrepreneurs http://www.remodelersontherise.com
Show 4: Randall Soules with Scientific Remodeling System shares insightful tips on how to make incremental improvements that pay off big
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