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Extreme Makeover - Contracting Company Edition

May 7, 2008
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Have you seen the TV program Extreme Makeover – Home Edition?  It airs on Sunday nights on ABC. Carpenter Ty Pennington and his design team descend on a down-and-out family. 



Have you seen the TV program Extreme Makeover – Home Edition?  It airs on Sunday nights on ABC. Carpenter Ty Pennington and his design team descend on a down-and-out family. Due to some twist of fate or circumstance, this family’s home is a total wreck (picture Charlie’s home from the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl).

Tears flow, hugs happen and the family takes off for Disneyland. They enjoy a week of vacation while the design team tears down the old and rebuilds a new home.

Now, as a contractor’s wife, I wonder how they pull off a construction project of this magnitude in one week. Is there a storage shed somewhere stuffed with the leftover household items? Is the paint dry? Are the hot and cold faucets on the right sides of the tub? You know how many details there are in a major construction job. Still, I love this show. I love it that they even try to do the project in 7 days. I love that the show gives a hand up to a family in need. I especially love the fresh start. From here on, things are going to be different and better for the family.

You’ve Been Selected
Are you in need of a fresh start? Today, I reviewed financial reports from contractor who is down-and-going-out. As we dug through the financials, we confronted the nasty truth: the company is a wreck. The reports are not current or accurate and the financial foundation is weak. A major money leak has gone on too long without getting fixed. There is mold all over under-performing family members. And the owner is working around the clock to make ends meet.   Sound familiar? Wouldn’t it be cool if you helped yourself to an Extreme Makeover – Contracting Company Edition?

How would you do it? Start with a plan. If you have a plan already, use it. Dust off the one you showed to the bank 100 years ago and start with that. If you don’t have a plan, try this:  
  • Get a three-ring binder. You can get a nice leather one at Office Depot for about 30 bucks. Or use one of your kids’ sixth grade leftovers. Make sure it is in nice, clean condition. Your best work is going in it. This binder is going to house your business plan. Call it your Biz Plan Binder.
  • Get at set of tabs that fit into your Biz Plan Binder. Get the customizable, write-on kind with eight tabs in the set. Tab up your binder like this:
  1. Setting Sight – What does it look like when you’re done? How much in sales?  How many employees? Number of customers served? What services will you offer? What will you do different and better from the competition? This tab of your Biz Plan Binder houses the pages that describe your ideal business, your target market, your goals and how this business serves you, your family, your team and your customers.
  2. Building the Team – Who does what? Why, how and when? Use this section of your Biz Plan Binder to store your organizational chart and position descriptions. Keep your recruiting activities organized here.
  3. Making Money – Keep a current copy of your financials in this section. Are your books a mess? Craft an action plan for getting to KFP – a Known Financial Position. Build a budget and set goals, in both dollars and percentages, for sales and expenses at your new and improved company. Get real about your selling price. Crunch the numbers and commit to implementing higher prices. Which leads us to…
  4. Getting it Sold –  If you are going to charge more (and, face it, cutting costs won’t make up for years of financial losses) you are going to have to be more: be faster, nicer, cleaner, more organized, professional, timely and loving. And, you will need to discover better ways to communicate the value of your service to customers and prospective customers. Craft an action plan for improving your sales skills. Store your marketing plan under this tab in your Biz Plan Binder.
  5. Getting it Done – As you develop your procedures, your sure-fire systems for delivering on your promises, store copies of your procedures under this tab. Create a “top projects” list and assign projects to team members. Be sure to include the due dates. Note the employees who rise to the 7-day Extreme Makeover Challenge. These are folks you want on your team.
  6. Making Sure – Are you on the right track? Are you delivering what people want? Is this working? Ride along with your field team. Sit side by side with your inside team. Ask your customers to give you feedback…what’s working, what needs to be made over?  Organize your “making sure” activities in this tab of your Biz Plan Binder.
Sure, you could keep all this information on your computer. Do it! However, a nice, printed, portable Biz Plan Binder is helpful for showing others where you are going and how you are going to get there. Also, feel free to “plus” my suggestions. These tabs are one way to organize your plan. Got another approach? Terrific. Use it!

  • You still have two additional tabs, right? Here’s what they are for:
    1. The Master To Do List – You are going to have lots of great ideas for your business. However, you can’t do everything all at once. You will learn to prioritize your ideas and focus your energy on the things that will have the most impact on your business success. When you, or a team member, have a good idea, or think of something that needs to be done, a “to do”…jot it down here.
    2. The Journal – This is where you write down the story of your business. You can use a Word document, and type out your thoughts. Or, insert a few blank pages and store them in this section of your Biz Plan Binder. Date your entries. You will learn wonderful lessons as you create and implement your business plan. Keeping a journal will help you to remember those lessons, and give you a nice way to pass the lessons along.

    • Find a mirror. Look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself, “You’re fired. There is a new sheriff in town. It’s me, extremely made over.”  
    • Walk into your office with the as-yet-empty Biz Plan Binder under your arm.  Go to your computer and create a recurring appointment in Outlook. For the next 7 days, from 5 am to 7 am, you are going to work on your plan. You are going to fatten up that binder with your plan. From 7 am to 7 pm, you are going to implement that plan.  You are going to tear down the wrecked business and build a brand new, profitable one. Your new business is going to get better or you are going to fire yourself for good. In one week, you could make that decision.


    Go Go Go for 7 Days and Nights
    For the next week, you are going to work like Ty Pennington and the design team. You will go over, under, around or through any obstacle that stands in your way. You are going to dream big and put the foundation in place to support that dream. You are going to work with your team and make it happen. What can you accomplish in 7 days?

     Lasting Change or Evaporating Dream?
       As I watch Extreme Makeover, it warms my heart to see the outpouring of help and gratitude. I cry, which is not a surprise as I am easily moved to tears. Yet, I also wonder if the new home triggers a new life for the family. Or, if six months later, is the home a disaster again?  People are resistant to change.

    Perhaps the key to lasting results is a mandatory pay-it-forward commitment. Suppose the family who receives the new home and the Disneyland vacation is then required to help out another family. What comes around goes around. That is a way to keep the blessings flowing.

    What about your new business? If you give yourself a fresh start – from the paint to the warehouse to the uniforms to a new budget and selling price budget – could you keep it going? Would you continue to work the plan? Or would you sink back to old patterns, like a thermostat pulling the room to the programmed temperature?  We are slow to change. Our bodies work constantly to keep our body temperature at 98.6 degrees, like the thermostat, seeking homeostasis. You have to reprogram yourself to change. Can you do it? Will you? And what could you do to pay forward the support and love that created your new business? What about mentoring another struggling business owner? What about committing to teach business literacy at Sunday school?

    Why not make a new start? Why not be fabulously successful doing what you love to the delight of your customers and the well being of your wonderful team? Why not help someone else do that, too?  Why not do an Extreme Makeover on your business?

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