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Andy Haste with Riverside Construction shares how his weekly strategic meetings have made all the difference in his remodeling business plus shares the very best way he’s generating new business.andy-haste

Andy also discusses his secret to success which involves surrounding yourself with really smart people from the industry and implementing great ideas as fast as possible.

Success Quote

“Picture yourself three years from now. If you are looking back on your life: What has to happen both personally and professionally for you to be happy with your progress?” – Dan Sullivan

Remodeling Business Resource

Job Profitability Matrix (XLS Download)

Interview Links

Riverside Construction

Favorite Book

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Markup & Profit: A Contractor’s Guide by Michael Stone

Complete Show Transcript

Download the PDF

Kyle: Welcome to Remodelers on the Rise!

I’m your host Kyle Hunt and I’m joined by my talented co-host Ryan Paul Adams. Hello, Ryan!

Ryan: Hey Kyle! What’s going on?

Kyle: Not much. Not much. So this is Remodelers on the Rise Podcast #12. For you listeners out there, i was just asking Ryan before we started the recording, he had a kind of fundraiser. And you had some batting practice at Fenway Park about a month ago.

Ryan: Yeah! I got to play a little bit.

Kyle: Give us a 30-second synopsis of that because it’s cool.

Ryan: I went into it with high expectations. I was going to take a few over the green monster. Didn’t quite have that happen but I took one deep to the right. One hopped the right field. Whoa! That was fun! Just being there was amazing. It really was.

Kyle: A bucket list item.

Ryan: It definitely was. It was #1.

Kyle: Awesome! So our guest today is Andy Hayes of Riverside Construction and he’s down in beautiful West Lafayette, Indiana.

I got to know Andy pretty well in the last 3 years or so. And I was thinking of how to introduce him. This is how best I describe him – if I was going to start a remodeling business from scratch, I’d model my business after Andy’s as far as his approach to business, his remodeling process, etc.

And Andy, that’s saying something because I talk to a lot of remodelers.

So, welcome Andy! Thanks for joining us.

Andy: Well, thank you for having me Kyle and Ryan. I appreciate the accolades. That means a lot.

Kyle: Very good. So the focus of the show is really about you Andy, your business and your experience.

I just wanted to give you that quick introduction and then, I will quickly turn it over to you to briefly tell us about you personally so everyone kind of gets to know who you are. Also, just a little more about your business.

Andy: Okay. We started our business in 2008. Basically, out of desperation.  I’ve got a family of 4 children and happily married to my wife. Really had no idea of how to run a business.

I had worked, I grew up in the remodeling world. My dad was a contractor. And worked for him through the summers when I was in high school and so forth.

But I knew how to do the work but had no idea how to do the business part of things. So we started in 2008, right in the middle of the recession. People ask me, “What were you thinking?”

But I didn’t know any better. And that first year, we started in March 2008, that first year, 9 months or so, it’s funny how we started. There were people in my church saying “Hey, I need my bathroom remodelled” or “Hey! I need my chimney taken out from my house.”

I said, “Sure, I’ll get the work for you.”

And so the first couple of jobs, the pastor at our church said, “Hey, can you fix the leaky chimney?”

I said, “Yeah, let me take a look at it. So, 30 minutes later I had it fixed. So I said. “No charge.”

I wasn’t even thinking of getting into the remodeling business.  He handed me a check for $1,000.

The very next remodeling projects I gave a bill to another church member, of I think another $1,000, he ended up giving me $2,000. And I said, there might be something to this business. This could be pretty profitable. So that kind of started it.

My previous job was working for a lumber company as a sales rep, material sales rep. And I admired a lot of builders and people out there and I thought I want to someday start a business but I was always too afraid to do it.

And golly, if that guy could do it, I am pretty sure I could do it.

Ryan: You kind of have a foot in the industry already, it sounds like.

Andy: So, anyway, we started in 2008. I had no idea how to run a remodeling company. My initial thought was always, I can probably do this business and just get by. And this basically, put food on the table. And then, some doors opened up for me.

I went to some remodelling seminars. I was like, “Wow! This could really be a business.”

So it has blown me away ever since. Probably 2009, I started educating myself by reading some books. And, rest is history.

We’ve really focused on the design-build remodel. And that has just blown me away with the potential. And it’s really a lot of fun, too.

Kyle: It’s interesting how quickly you went from “Hey! I’ll come take a look at that” to where you are and where you’ve been.

Before I have Ryan ask the next question, there is something else I want to dig in to where you want to get into further. I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before. Maybe I have.

I think, we met about 3 years ago and that would have been 2011 or so. And what I recognized then about you and your business is your focus into systems and processes. And also, you’re focused on being a truly professional remodeling business from start to finish.

And, when we met then, when I heard you just started your business in 2008, that impressed me even more. Because I see a lot of remodelers who have been in the business for decades some of whom maybe listening to this. And business-wise, systems-wise, you’re already ahead of them at that time.

Tell us a little bit more about two things 1.) where does that focus on process, systems, professionalism stems from? And, 2.) what impact has that focus had on being able to quickly build a profitable and solid company?

Andy: It’s a great question. Recently, I read a book called “Strengths Finder”.

It is kind of just dawned upon me that part of my make-up is a studier – someone who tries to figure things out and I really owe any success that I have on other people, on coaches, people that have gone before me.

The first book I read that spring of 2008 was a book by Michael Stone. He is a really pretty good teacher. I read most of 2 of his books. He has one on how to run a business and the other one is on sales. But that’s how I got started. And immediately after that, in 2009 or the fall of 2008, I joined Remodeler’s Advantage. And the blinders came off the eyes, I was like, “Wow! You can actually make money on this.

With Remodeler’s Advantage, I joined right away as an online member where I can read their stuff. But then, immediately, after that, I joined 6 months later their roundtable groups. It is a peer group and they really taught me the systems and the processes. I am just soaking all this information. The potential is just amazing if you apply it yourself.

Kyle: Let me ask you this because a lot of people soak it in, maybe not in a point that you do. I know you are a pretty avid reader like what you said the Strengths Finder book and that research is your strength.

Implementing it, actually taking that from ideas to implementation, share a few thoughts on how you tackle that and how you get to that part of things as that’s where a lot of people drop off.

Andy: Right. My thought about implementation is if you see something that works, immediately implement it even if it’s not a 100% fool-proof or even if you don’t have it all figured it out. It sounds like a big plug for Remodeler’s Advantage, we call it R&D.

It is basically, Rip-off and Develop. It is not research, well research. But basically, we are sharing documents. Basically, if somebody’s figured it out before, you figured it out and it’s working, then borrow it.

Change it a little bit to fit your style but that’s what I did. I am not afraid to, if there’s a successful remodeler on the West Coast and he’s part of Remodeler’s Advantage, I’ll call him up and pick his brain for 15-20 minutes or half an hour, whatever. I’ve developed relationships with people across the nation. Like, I see that their website is great so I’ll ask how they do it.

Ryan: Money loves speed. From what I’ve learned over the years, so any shortcut to success is huge. But what I find is many remodelers are scared to put themselves out there that away and get involved in a group like that because they think, “Well, maybe my business isn’t as good as these others.”

And they are intimidated. Anything that you did, that you can recommend? Did you go for it? What did you do to get over that hump?

Andy: I guess, I really don’t have a fear to call somebody. I just think of them like they’re a normal person. I mean, I reach out and I put this into my notes to share with, I reach out to people like Todd Jackson of Jackson Design and Remodeling on the West Coast. Just last month, I talked to Bruce Case of Case Remodeling on the East Coast. There’s a remodeler in Canada who I reach out to.

I guess, ask these guys. They’ve been around for 20-30 years. I’ve been doing it 5, in less than 6-7 years. There’s a lot that I don’t know. So, call these guys up and talk to them for half an hour and you will be amazed that they are actually very willing to share their success with you.

Kyle: That’s what they always say with mentors. If you read about mentorship, if they see you’re actually doing something with it, f you follow up 2 months later and said, “I’ve tried that out and it worked great.” or “I’ve tried that out and I’m stumbling on this, this isn’t coming across right.”

That’s when the relationship grows more. People are so willing to help if you are willing to be humble enough to ask. I think that’s what it comes to sometimes.

Andy: It’s just that persistence. If you don’t get hold of them, call them. Ask for their cellphones, call them on their home phones. I mean, they don’t care. They want to help.

But you know, the other thing is, this sounds a big plug for Remodeler’s Advantage. I mean it’s just a tool. There are other organizations out there, too.

But Victoria Downing, the President of Remodeler’s Advantage shared this in an intro meeting in Baltimore.

Actually, she didn’t mean it by that time but she said, “Your investment here, it will give you 10 times in return and we guarantee it.”

I took it literally. And it’s really actually happened in my business. My investment is worth 10 times. The money that I paid them has benefitted us 10 times the amount.

Few years later, she said, “I really didn’t mean that. It was just a figure of speech.”

But it turned out to be true to me.

Ryan: You’d still be able to implement. It just sounds like you are able to do that and you do that very quickly. So that’s great!

You’ve obviously had quite a bit of success. Is there something that you could share as far as a quote or a mantra that you live by? And maybe try to break that down to how you might apply that to your life and your business.

Andy: I though about this question and there’s so much good information out there but I just recently made a quote that really made me think. And the one thing is from a guy named Dan Sullivan. He says that he’s a coach.

Ryan: A strategic coach.

Andy: Strategic coach, yeah.

It’s basically this, it isn’t exactly what he shared but basically picture yourself 3 years from now, if you are looking back in your life, what has to happen both personally ad professionally for you to be happy with your progress?

And it’s really going to get you thinking, “Okay, it is not too far into the future. I can kind of visualize this.”

But what does motivate you to change quickly? Why wait 3 years to make this change? I can get into the elliptical trainer now and start losing a few pounds or I can make this change now in my business or at least start making this change.

But the other thing is, it’s more of an idea than a quote is having quarterly goals – every quarter, 90 day goals.

What are your top 3 things in your business that you want to accomplish in the next 90 days? And you’re just setting yourself up for success if you’re always thinking ahead what’s next? How do I get to the next level?

Ryan: Is there anything that you do to keep track of that? Do you set yourself up a reminder? How do you force yourself to do that every 90 days?

Andy: Well, we do have, in our business, what we call strategic meetings every Monday. We’re always talking about what’s next. We are talking about what’s current. But also, what are the strategic items we need to talk about to take us to the next level.

I am aware internally of January, this is the quarter, the next quarter, the 3rd quarter, we’re always talking about these things. I have a word document here about my goals. I don’t have reminders really but they’re always in front of me.

Kyle: Share a story of a time in your journey where you may have encountered some failure. If you can take us to that time in your life, maybe tell that story and share your lessons learned.

Andy: There’s a very distinct moment last spring. We’ve developed a design-build model and it was working. It was based off another company that I admire. In their area, they do the design-build model a bit differently.

So I just decided doing that way in my area. But, there are all types of clients out there and we ran into a client that we started working on a design. The idea was, if they want to move forward with design, we’ll show them some concepts for free.

And then get them to OK one of those concepts and they put money down on the design and it’s a big chunk of money. As long as the budget is, we do a budget proposal for them, too. But that backfired for us. And they ended up being very unhappy when the investment amount continued to grow.

And so they decided not to move forward. Couple of months later, they called me up and wanted to sue me, which really rocked my world.

Ryan: That’s not fun.

Andy: And they put $5,000 to $6,000 down on design and we actually delivered that amount of work for them. I thought about that, “Let me get back with you. Let me think about this. Let me get back with you to see how we can work this out.”

Anyway, I decided, “You know what, I’m not going to let this bother me. I am going to give their money back. I am going to be able to sleep at night.”

His daughter was a lawyer. So I’m just like lesson learned, how now do we move forward? And not let this happen again. So the timing was really good with my Remodeler’s Advantage peer group coming in and doing a case study in West Lafayette for our business and this was a major issue.

Okay, so how do we make this a better system and to avoid this in the future?

So we re-vamped our whole design-build method. And now we have a 2 step approach – what we call discovery design approach. And then, we have a detailed design approach. And they were modelled after a couple of guys in our peer group.

Since then our business has really taken off in an upward trend. What it does is made me focus on what’s really going to help the client. How I can add value to my client.

That’s what as far as the business people, service people – that’s where the rubber meets the road. Always think about what’s going to add value to our client. And usually, what happens if it’s going to add value to our clients is going to add value to you too as a business owner.

Kyle: I think, I’ve mentioned in on a previous podcast, there are times in my business where I am looking at a prospect and, “Ah, it’s worth that much money to me…me…me…”

When I’m focus on how much money I am bringing in, obviously, you have to pay attention to your bills and take care of things. But if you’re focused on you that way versus how much I can help this client.

This client, they’re perfect because I will be able to take them from here to there, it’s going to be a profitable experience. I know exactly what you are talking about. It’s a mindset shift. It sounds like you changed your process to help you stay focus on that.

Andy: Right. We changed our process. Actually my peer group said, “You need to end 3 designs.”

Ryan: Yeah, smart!

Andy: And, so we did. We called it our discovery process which is modelled after a couple of other companies. There is a very minimum investment to show a client what is possible through designs and concepts, along with that is a budget proposal that gives a scope of work and investment amount.

And they are able to move forward to the detailed design feeling good about it. That, it’s going to meet all their needs. So really, it’s focus on what’s going to deliver value to the clients and in turn, we cut out so much free estimating and design.

Our system became very efficient.

Kyle: Going back to square one. If I’m listening to this and I am a remodeler, I’m out there working hard every day and I’m listening to you going, “Andy, the people in my area, they won’t pay for me (even if I’m not design and build) to give them a detailed specifications or a guaranteed budget on a prospect. I’ve got to do that for free.”

What would you advise them? How would you counsel them on going towards that direction?

It doesn’t happen overnight but going towards that direction, why should they be thinking that?

Andy: It all has to do with the type of clients you work with. Usually, the people who want things for fee are not going to be profitable. They don’t appreciate good work, and their main goal’s to get the cheapest price and you probably won’t make a profit working with them.

I can guarantee, we’re in the Midwest, Indiana and it’s working here. I think what you have to do is show them the potential and we have what we call as upfront – we show them, here’s our system, here’s what you’re going to get. We have a real process. Here’s the design agreement. We’ll walk through it with you.

Kyle: Here are sample designs.

Andy: Yes! Here’s what you are going to get. There’s a seven-step process for delivering what we call discovery design to you with all that’s involved there. I think people would rather pay for something of value than get something free that’s not really much value.

Ryan: I think a lot of remodelers who hesitate to charge for their estimate and for their initial discovery are remodelers that don’t have a lot of the things that you have.

So they can’t figure out or see pass that. They are not adding any value. Doing the estimate adds a little bit of value. But the stuff that you are doing is huge. It’s a big value-add and you should charge for your time. You should make something out of it.

Andy: Right! The nice thing about it too is you start charging for something and people are willing to pay for. If you can show them the added value, you’ve actually captured a new client.

Our percentage if somebody goes into design is like almost 100%. Once they go into detail to the first phase of design, the likelihood of them doing business with us is almost zero.

Kyle: Which means you’re focused to clients who want to do business with you. And you are not wasting time with people who don’t. Therefore, deliver better customer service.

Awesome! Ryan, why don’t you move on to the next question?

Ryan: Let’s talk about that big moment in your life that maybe you had that big breakthrough or that AHA! moment.

Andy: It was really 9 months after we started our business.

It was going to 2008-2009, it was more of what I feel like I should do. I didn’t read about it or anything, which is usually the case. But I just decided in 2009, starting January 1, I’m not going to work on the jobs anymore. I’m going to hire carpenters. I’m going to hire other people to do that for me. And I think it’s because I really recognized my desire and my strength is sales.

And so I just focused on sales. And I added people to our team to do the rest. So it’s a real simple idea but it allowed us to grow quickly.

I immediately hired one carpenter and then I hired another carpenter who was more of a Lead Carpenter. Shortly after that, I figured out the design-build model and then I hired a designer – an in-house designer. We started actually with outside design but we had a design-build model.

Kyle: So the AHA! moment was really seeing this is what I’m good at. This is what I need to focus on.

Andy: I think so. It was kind of really subtle but it helped us really scale our business quickly.

Kyle: I know you’ve been doing some seminars, homeowner seminars. I was down in your place on the last fall, you were doing some remodeling in your office and it looks sharp. Is there one thing that’s really exciting you in your remodeling business right now?

And if the answer is not related to the seminars, can you share a few thoughts in addition to your answer about the seminars, how they are going.

Andy: Sure. The thing that’s really exciting me right now is really, there’s so many opportunities but the real thing is I’m focused on right now is the opportunity to expand and create a business that can survive without me.

I know that, the next step in business is really having a business that can run without the owner. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit what I am doing because I love it.

I love meeting with people and helping them with their remodeling projects and I want to remain involved but I want to take our business to the next level and one of the toughest positions to hire is a salesperson.

But that’s where we are headed. We are interviewing salespeople and I think we are ready to move in that direction.

Kyle: I have an idea for you to move into that next direction. Listen to Show #10 of Remodelers on the Rise where Dave Roberts talks all about how he went off for a month or so and his business has continued on.

Andy: Right! And I know Dave, he’s a good guy. He used to be in one of my peer groups a few years back. So I did see that right before I logged on in here and I’m going to definitely listen to that.

Kyle: There you go. Share a few thoughts on the seminars you’ve been doing.

Andy: Great, no problem! I am always very interested in marketing – what’s the best way to get new members, new contacts or prospects.

The very best way is to do a good job for your current clients. And really cultivate your referrals.

But I think the second best thing to do is what we call Kitchen & Bath seminar. So what you are doing is educating the public and basically, what I do is I reach out. I’ve had these seminars a long time ago but the beginning of this year (we actually did some last year), I reached out to a couple of people – a couple of marketing gurus. I just had half an hour to an hour conversation with them and I said, “What should we be doing?”

And one of the guys worked for Case Deisgn-Build for a long time as their Marketing President. He went out on his own and started his own marketing business. But he said, “I think you can meet your goals by just doing seminars. And so he shared the program that he was doing with me. And we modified it and we just started doing it pretty immediately.

So far, we’ve done 5 this year. Next week is our 6th seminar. I think, every seminar, we’ve got one or two projects. It’s working great. You are basically teaching people how to buy remodeling. The draw is really sharing Kitchen & Bath design trends. Telling them the latest trends in your area.

Kyle: And you are the expert.

Andy: We are the only ones doing it so I guess we are the experts.

Ryan: You immediately have positioning credibility by doing these seminars. It’s really smart.

Andy: It’s worked out pretty well. We do it in a hotel at downtown Lafayette. We advertise through the paper, Facebook and our website. So it’s been a very good thing for us.

Kyle: Excellent! So if ever you guys who are listening who want to go to his website, check out www.rsconstruct.com – it’s Andy’s website. We’ll link it to the show notes as well.

Let’s dig in to the lightning round.  We’ll ask you some quick questions and you’ll give us some answers. And we’ll keep moving. So Ryan, why don’t you lead us off with that?

Ryan: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Andy: The #1 thing is it’s from Linda Case who started Remodeler’s Advantage. She said, you have to know your numbers. You have to figure out basically how to make a profit.

And the profit is not the owner’s salary. It’s above that. So basically, it’s charge properly for your services. And this basically fuels future growth and ensures you will be in business the next time the customer calls you. You know, pay the bills and feed the kids.

Ryan: Great advice!

Kyle: How old are your kids? What do they range from?

Andy: My oldest is 11. I have 3 boys, 11, 10 and 8. My daughter is 5.

Ryan: Know your numbers and you can feed them.

Kyle: Can you share one of your personal habits you believe attributes to your success?

Andy: This is going to sound very religious but I have to be true to things that I believe really fuel success. There are several quotes in the bible that comes to mind.

The first one is a verse that goes, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all the things will be added on to you.”

I really believe strongly in that. Based upon that, I’ve developed a habit of personal devotion. Each day, I may miss a day or two. But trying to really seek wisdom is the personal habit I really believe fuels success.

If you have a chance, again sounds really religious but I believe there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained Psalm 1 is talking about the tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruits in its season.

And basically, it’s talking about a man or a woman who is paying attention to the wisdom that for ages has been profitable. That’s really the personal habit that fuels really success.

Kyle: Appreciate you sharing that. What book would you recommend to Remodelers on the Rise listeners? This might be the toughest question for you as you are a reading man. But try to narrow it down to one or a couple.

Andy: Yeah! That was a hard question. I probably have 5 favourite books that I refer too often. They are kind of references. But I think, the one that is the last couple of years that has really helped me to hone in on the important numbers is a book by Kraig Kramers called CEO Tools. What it does is really help you graph out your success. Keep track of the important numbers in the business with what we call a dashboard.

So we’ve developed a dashboard that my Office Manager emails me on Friday and I’m able to look at the key numbers and see where we are and make sure we are profitable. There’s something in that book that’s called 12-Month Trailing Chart which is just a great chart to keep up of sales, really where you’re headed and really allows you to make adjustments before your graphs go down or your sales go down, your revenue goes down. Anyway, that’s what I would recommend.

Ryan: Speaking of charts, graphs and resources – all that stuff, is there anything that you have that you might be willing to share with our listeners?

Andy: There is something we call the Job Profitability Building Matrix that really helps me look ahead. It helps you feel better about your business.

It’s developed by Judith Miller who’s a bookkeeping guru in the remodeling industry. And she shared it with me. I use it every week. We talk about in our strategic meetings. It helps us see what’s ahead that we’re going to successful in meeting our goals.

Kyle: Excellent. Thank you for sharing.

Ryan: As a reminder we’re also making that available on the website at www.RemodelersontheRise.com/show12.

Kyle: So Andy last question and we’ll cut you lose.

Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you’re in the same exact business but you knew no one had no sales and had only $500 of start-up money. And here is the serious part, your life depended on you selling something in the next 7 days. You still have the experience and knowledge you currently have. Food and shelter are taken cared of, but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days to survive and generate new business?

Andy: Well, I’ve been a firm believer in nothing happens until somebody sells something. And so, I think the first thing I’d do is create some documents that would show (if I don’t have these already) “Here’s our unique ability as a company and here’s how we can deliver value to the client.”

And what I’d do is I’d start by selling something that could immediately turn into work. Probably more of handyman type of services or roofing and siding…

Kyle: Maybe one of the $1,000, 30-minute job…

Ryan: That could turn into something else.

Andy: Not very often. But sell something then immediately assemble a team and to get to work. So that’s my short answer.

Kyle: I like it.

Ryan: Finally, where can people get hold of you? Is there anything else you wanted to share today?

Andy: You can always go to my website, Riverside Construction’s website. And it’s www.rsconstruct.com.

Contact us thru the Contact Info there. But people can feel free to call me up. Our number’s on our website. I’m happy to share infomation or help further.

Kyle: You’ve already given permission for people to harass you, ask for your cellphone number.

Ryan: Watch out!

Andy: It’s fine. I harass a lot of people.

Kyle: Thank you Andy for coming on to the show today. We really appreciate you sharing all the knowledge, wisdom and story with us. That was a very good interview.

And just a friendly reminder to all of our listeners, check out www.Remodelersonthe Rise.com and take 2 minutes to review and rate our show on iTunes. We want other people like yourself to be able to find the show. And the more reviews and ratings we get, the easier that would be.

So we appreciate you all tuning in and thank you again Andy. Also, my co-host Ryan. And we’ll talk to you again soon. Thanks, gents!

Ryan: Thank you Andy! Thank you, Kyle!

Andy: Thank you, Kyle and Ryan!




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