Dale Ressler shares insights with DreamMaker franchisees, helps them boost productivity and profits
Remodelers don’t always do what’s best for business. Sometimes they underestimate the costs associated with a job they’re bidding on. Sometimes they’re afraid to ask for a higher price — a profitable price — for fear that a homeowner will walk away and choose another company. Instead, they bid for a job based on razor-thin margins, and when problems arise, the margins completely vanish. Frequently, poor planning by the remodeler or their lead carpenter can lead to multiple trips to hardware stores and lumber yards — wasted time that drives up labor costs for a job.
Dale Ressler’s job is to help erase these common mistakes for DreamMaker remodeling franchise owners. Dale has been a remodeler since 1990 and grew his independent business into a Remodeling Big50 company before joining DreamMaker. Since joining our franchise system in 2006 he’s won numerous awards, including Franchisee of the Year.
Today, in addition to running his business in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he also serves as one of the franchise coaches who help other DreamMaker remodelers become more efficient, and more effective in the way they run their business. The goal is twofold: to help franchisees improve their bottom line and the success of their business, and to help them become more effective so they can get more enjoyment out of running their businesses.
Lessons from the trenches
Are you making money or just going thru money? Remodelers are notorious for going through money, Dale says. “If their checking account is full, they think they are doing well, but if the job faucet stopped they would be in trouble immediately because they are depending on the next job to pay their bills. I have lived that. I know what that feels like — and I know what it's like to stop doing it that way.”
Dale has heard remodelers talk about cash flow being tight even when they are busy with a lot of projects. “Well, that's a pretty big sign that something is wrong. That's where I drill down and peel back the layers.”
Lack of job planning. “How many trips to the store did we have to make to buy parts? Every time you have to make a trip to the store, it’s going to take at least 30 minutes out of your day. You hop in the truck, go to the store, find what you need, check out, drive back to the job site, unload. If you’re not careful, you can easily spend 1-2 hours a day. If you do that every day on a job, a lot of labor hours are eaten up by driving back and forth, and that costs money. That's just one example.”
Dale works with franchisees to master DreamMaker’s systems, which include detailed production planning as well as financial incentives that allow lead carpenters to earn bonuses when they complete jobs ahead of time. DreamMaker’s systems help franchisees build accurate forecasts of the labor hours needed for different phases of a job. When the hours are logged, franchisees can then analyze where logjams may have occurred, and identify what went wrong in the process.
Failing to coordinate schedules. DreamMaker’s production system includes scheduling for specialty tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians. Homeowners love the fact that we handle the coordination of these professionals — it’s one less thing for customers to worry about. There’s a big potential advantage for franchisees, too. “Many companies will have two guys who go out on every job,” Dale says. “That's not very efficient in a lot of cases. Sometimes the lead carpenter needs help holding or lifting something, but the rest of the helper’s time isn’t accomplishing much. Well, can you schedule the plumber at the same time you need to carry a vanity top, and get him to help you? They’re often happy to help out, and it can save you from needing a second person on the job site all day.”
Fear of asking a fair price. A lot of remodelers worry that if they raise their estimates 5%, or 10%, they’ll lose all of their jobs. That’s not true. They’ll just lose the jobs where they weren’t going to make any profits! “A lot of it is ‘head stuff’ — people have always done it a certain way, and they’re afraid to change. Getting people to change takes drilling into their numbers and showing them how they can improve the financial side of their business. We already give them the marketing tools and sales strategies they need. I challenge them to use those tools, and encourage their successes. It’s not an instant thing. “That one job you didn't get? How did you approach them? Where do you think you lost them?” When they get a good sale — a job that is priced for profitability — we celebrate. We do that over and over, and people start to believe in their successes and understand their successes, and that changes the way they run their business.”
Dale says DreamMaker’s systems helped his remodeling business survive the Great Recession, and that the culture of the organization — which values learning, sharing, integrity and excellence — has been a joy.
“I love DreamMaker and the systems they have to help remodelers be successful,” he says.