Violand Executive Summit – Branding, Personal Inventory, Work-Life Balance, Negotiating, Pricing, Business Development and More

Air Date: 6-12-2015|Episode 372


This week on IAQ Radio we take the show on the road. Our spotlight is on the 11th VMA Executive Summit as we broadcast live from the Stark Campus of Kent State University. Radio Joe and The Z-man are attending for the third year and we have a great show lined up with several key presenters at this years event…

Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we take the show on the road. Our spotlight is on the 11th VMA Executive Summit as we broadcast live from the Stark Campus of Kent State University. Radio Joe and The Z-man are attending for the third year and we have a great show lined up with several key presenters at this years event. The business topics discussed at the Violand Summit are focused on cleaning and restoration companies but the principles can be applied to any business.

Our focus will be on how to take the type of information being presented at this leadership conference and apply it to your business or project management. We want to express our thanks to Chuck Violand and his staff for inviting us to join them and do a live show from the summit. We know our listeners will pick up great free tips that will help them become better business people and leaders in the industry. The Violand Executive Summit is a very popular annual event with over 150 attendees. The instructors are excellent and the facilities are truly first class. We hope listeners will consider checking it out in the future. Being the best technical person in the industry does not do much good if you don’t know how to manage and operate your business.

Join the Z-Man and Radio Joe as we pick the brains of some of the key presenters from the conference and get our listeners a free dose of learning from a premier conference. LEARN MORE this week on IAQ Radio!

Z-Main’s Blog:

The view from the Summit

Violand Management is a consultancy that works to improve small family businesses through focus, execution and leadership. At their executive summit attendees select from a menu of core courses and electives in 4 different disciplines to earn a diploma from VMA and Kent State in Small Business Management.

Nuggets mined when RadioJoe and the Z-Man picked the brains of some of the key presenters from the conference.

Unique keynote. The event opened with a keynote presentation by Rebekah Gregory who was standing with her family near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 when two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. Her injuries were catastrophic, resulting in more than 35 surgeries and, eventually, the amputation of her left leg. Now, two years later, she ran in the Boston Marathon running the last 3.2 miles on a prosthetic leg. Through her own words and photos she talked about her journey, starting with that fateful day at the finish line.

Chuck Violand attributes the success of The Violand Executive Summit to being fortunate to have recognized a great need for business management and leadership training and to having a great team.

 Tim Hull, Business Development Adviser for VMA Tim has a wealth of field expertise in operations. He was branch manager and general manager for several large disaster restoration companies before joining Violand Management. He is Violand’s go-to-guy on project management and estimating.

 Tips for accurately pricing jobs to be both profitable and competitive.

  • Fine line between profitability and competitiveness. You must know your costs: your labor costs, your equipment costs and the overall cost of delivering the service. Sales, marketing and administrative have an impact on profitability.
  • The next component of profitability is to define a really good scope of work to be performed. When quotes are compared, any big differences in price are almost always related to the scope of work.
  • Know how to negotiate and sell yourself as a business person. If you master these you will be profitable and competitive in the market place.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. You need more than a tape measure; you need to see the damage in order to properly estimate it.
  • People are often unaware of the true labor cost of projects when workers are not working on the jobsite: unscheduled trips to Lowes and Home Depot, preparing for jobs in the morning, cleaning up at night, etc. may often be overlooked.

How to identify & capitalize on opportunities for increasing profit margin in all trade categories?

  • Increase sale amount and reduce cost. You won’t make the same margins on every trade. Identify the trades you make higher margins on and try to sell more of this type of work.
  • Manage change orders and “trade-out services” with property owners.
  • Lean the company; try to reduce the overall costs of delivering the services.

Are restoration firms shifting away from providing reconstruction services?

  • Reconstruction costs have lower margins along with lower overhead and administrative costs.
  • Some insurance companies prefer to avoid conflict of interest by using separate firms to provide mitigation and reconstruction services.

 Kordell Norton, speaker, author, consultant and business growth expert. The Revenue Mechanic helps organizations become more charismatic and grow their sales.

What is a brand?

  • The 3 E’s. Expectations of customers, Experiences they have as orchestrated through a series of Events. Whether it’s Disney, Harley Davidson, Apple Computer or a local restoration contractor, customers have expectations. Customers want events to be smoother and more beneficial.

How to sell and market when you have no budget and want to win against the “big guy?”

  • Small entrepreneurs are feeling the pressure of big companies who are trying to capture their customers. The irony is that small entrepreneurs overthink their lack of capabilities. Big companies are slow to react while small companies can adapt and be closer to the customers.
  • Creativity and innovation (which is creativity put intp place) is found by the small company. For example, the US Army wanted to reach young people so they put recruiting ads on pizza boxes and gave them to pizza shops. A restoration firm who wanted to market to fire houses had boxes printed with their message, and gave the pizza boxes to a pizza shop who then delivered the pizzas. Another restoration firm uses former ambulances as emergency service vehicles.

Is there a cure for being the best kept secret?

  • When all things are equal it’s hard to stand out, so what makes you different? Be different Plus 1, do one thing above and beyond everyone else. Five Guys burgers feeds you before they feed you with peanuts, and then adds more fries to your order of fries. What can you do to Plus 1?
  • When you advertise with a video commercial only 14% of people who see it believe it, if you ask for testimonials the credibility goes to 94%. Ask the customer what you did so great, record on your cell phone and upload to YouTube.

Dr. Holly Bognar, Ph.D. is a trainer, facilitator, business coach and former professor with a background in business development, team building, leadership and strategic planning.

What is a personality inventory? A series of questions that gives the opportunity to look at different personal preferences people have in how they interact with others, how they take information in, how they make decisions. Personality inventory helps us understand what we are good at. The purpose of the inventory is not to tell us we can’t do something. The inventory scores on scales of preferences. The inventory lets us know what is easy for us, allowing us to capitalize on our strengths and use them.

Are personality inventory tools readily available?

  • Myers Briggs Indicator is based on the work of Carl Jung; humanmetrics.com has Jung work on it and a shortened version of the inventory.

Why is it important for businesses to utilize them?

  • We capitalize on our strengths so an overused strength can become a double weakness. For example, a person with a strong intuitive side who likes connections needs to either learn to leverage the opposite side of themselves or build a team of people to operationalize them or they never get off the ground.
  • Teaming an idea person with operational person or a logical thinker with someone who looks at the impact on people.

Is the personality inventory a good tool to select sales people?

  • Not necessarily. You don’t want to pigeonhole people. You would think that extroverts are natural sales people, but I’ve seen many introverted sales people knock it off the charts.
  • Use interview questions to determine a person’s style.

Does age influence inventory results?

  • Age doesn’t factor into our style. Our hardwired style is our preferred way of doing things. As we age, opposing scales (thinking or feeling, introvert or extrovert), the side of us that is less developed, longs for more equality. As we age, think grayer, we can see both sides.

What are other benefits of the inventory?

  • Helps us to understand ourselves to become better human beings, better business owners, better workers, better team leaders; the more we understand ourselves the more we can help othesr.

How has the workplace changed?

  • The way I am is no longer an excuse; people expect more caring today.

Jack Shanks is owner of Management Solutions and has a broad based background of management experience. He is an experienced negotiator and coalition builder who has created and taught seminars for over 20 years.

  • What is the most important thing you ever negotiated? Worldwide Military Command and Control Project for General Electric back in the late 1960s installing computers at all US military bases and interlinking them for logistic support and supplies. Getting hardware in on time, training, documentation and software development.
  • In cleaning and restoration what negotiating criteria are there other than scope and price
  • Ensuring payment to the appropriate people is the number one consideration and needs to be negotiated with both the insurance company and the property owner.
  • Supplier negotiations: confirming material is available, delivery times, dates, delivery methods, material storage considerations, quality and quantity of materials. Protection in contracts when quality material doesn’t arrive on time.
  • Contract is legal and approved by both parties

Contractor Resources?

  • Do they have the resources to simultaneously do our job and other jobs, adequate skill level, a schedule they have to meet, protection against damaging surfaces and materials they are working on.
  • Legal protection in the statement of work, access to property, work scheduling and payment scheduling.

What is the most common mistake made in negotiating?

  • Not asking the right questions. Too many unknowns. Take time to figure out what they don’t know and get needed answers.
  • The 40%/70% rule popularized by General Colin Powell. Don’t take action on anything until you have 40% of the necessary information. Don’t waste time trying to get more than 70%.
  • Lack of information. Criteria asking questions: who handles this, who is responsible for budget, who is responsible for payment? Classify the information into what you know and what you don’t.

When the insurance adjuster says that I can only pay X for the service what should I do?

  • Understand the insurance policy. Make sure the adjuster truly understands the scope of the project. Remote office adjusters often don’t understand what the scope is. Point out the things that are different, point out safety concerns “if we don’t do this the homeowner (or our workers) is at risk” or cite building codes. Get the adjuster to revisit the scope and get the property fixed.

 Scott Tackett, Business Development Advisor for VMA is a facilitator, business trainer, and adjunct professor at Kent State University. He joined VMA after 32 years in manufacturing, HR and organizational leadership.

  • What is the difference in relating to an 18 year old new hire and a stuck-in-their-ways veteran? Having 4 generations in the workplace is a newer problem because people are working longer. Motivational leadership is necessary to successfully manage both. We created Millennials by not having winners and losers and giving trophies to all and allowing them to question everything and everybody.
  • We must learn how to motivate employees of all ages and teach them the importance of teamwork.
  • Communication between generations begins with our ability to listen. While we may not agree we must listen to where all employees are coming from. Give older workers (the Traditionalists) the straight scoop, Gen X (27-42) only want to know the time not how to build a clock. 18 year olds want to know how it impacts them.
  • Respect Traditionalist and don’t disrespect or talk down to them.
  • Boomers like to talk and take matters personally and seriously.
  • Don’t micromanage Gen X. Because they saw their parents lose jobs after working 30+ years Gen X won’t work 60-80 hours a week; they want home and work balance.

How can we make better decisions quickly?

  • Making decisions is a process.
  • Learn from mistakes and don’t repeat them.
  • Look at the options. Use a scientific method to break it down: what’s the problem, how to fix, what options exist, execute a solution and follow up to see did it work or not?
  • Have multiple heads involved in deciding. Get input from people doing the job. People crave to be part of something. When asked for input people will gladly participate. Involve critics, dreamers and realists in making decisions.
  • Gen X think and want to make a difference.
  • Baby Boomers shy away from making decisions because they grew up with the civil rights movement and are often touchy, feely, and politically correct.
  • Traditionalists struggle with involvement with decision making because they came from a command and control mentality.

How to keep good people?

  • Give them what they want: to be part of something, to be in on things and to be appreciated. We care about them, value them and listen to them.

The military or sports effect?

  • Loves the coaching discipline and sports mentality. Coaching can lead to excuses, the Cleveland Browns practice 6 days to lose on Sunday. Ex-military learned command and control. While ex-military are in the workplace they are committed, loyal and dedicated and they may struggle with less structure.

Chuck’s last words: the common theme woven among the guests is that they all teach involvement and working together in business.

RadioJoe and the Z-Man congratulate Chuck Violand and the VMA team for another great event and thank them for the hospitality extended to us.

Z-Man signing off

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