Optimizing Your Contracting Business for Growth & Profitability

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In our first episode of Building Success with LS, Bryce Garber, Director of Marketing for LS Building Products and Brad Betson of The Team Guide, talk about leading teams, clear chats, and smart business moves. With Betson's advice, they talk about the problems of mixed messages, why clear goals matter, and having a solid plan for your business. At the center? People matter most, and everyone should know how they help the business.

 

HubSpot Video

 

Main Points:

  • Talking Clearly: Not being clear can lead to problems. Even if bosses think they've explained well, they need to make sure everyone gets it.

  • Knowing Your Job: Betson points out, like in Jim Collins' book "Good to Great," having the right people in the right jobs is key. Everyone should know their role and why it's important.

  • Checking Your Business: If things aren't going well, ask questions. Look at your team, your goals, and your main purpose.

  • Your Business Plan: Betson says a business needs:
    • People: Everyone should understand and share the business's goals.
    • Guides: Write down how things are done so everyone can follow.
    • Doing Well: Keep track of how things are going and be honest about it.
    • Making Money: With a good team and clear plan, success will come.

  • Why Numbers Matter: Keeping score helps everyone see how they're doing, stick to the plan, and focus on what makes money.

  • Keep Checking: Look at how things are going, whether every week or every month. Check if you're on track and change things if needed.

Top Quotes:

  • Brad Betson: "Leadership is easy to summarize. It's hard to implement."
  • Bryce: "Knowing that what you're working on matters... is helping you be an A player and bringing solutions."
  • Brad Betson: "It starts and will always start and end with people."
  • Bryce: "Having the playbooks... has just been so helpful to directing attention, focusing energy."

 

In their chat, Bryce and Brad Betson stress that a good business looks at systems and people. It's about more than just steps and figures; it's about understanding and supporting every person in the team.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

Bryce:
All right, hey there, Builder Pro. Welcome to our very first episode of Building Success with LS. This is where we'll dive into industry news, business know-how, and the latest product insights all geared toward helping you grow your knowledge and building business. For this episode, we're talking about unlocking the potential of your business with our very first guest, Brad Bettson. To some, Brad is a mentor, to others, a coach. For us here at LS, he's been our guide, and we've been working with him to improve our business as we strive to get to the next level. Thanks for joining us, Brad, and welcome.

Brad Betson:
Hey, thanks a ton, Bryce. I'm really honored. You talk about the first guest. Hey, I love it. So thank you,

Bryce:
Yeah,

Brad Betson:
really, really.

Bryce:
absolutely. Well, I mean, it's literally the case that we wouldn't be here without you. And what better way to kind of break in this new building success initiative than having you on board with us to talk a little bit more about growing and maintaining and developing a healthy organization. So

Brad Betson:
Now looking

Bryce:
thanks

Brad Betson:
forward

Bryce:
again

Brad Betson:
to it.

Bryce:
for joining us.

Brad Betson:
Yep.

Bryce:
Yeah, would you mind sharing with me again and with our viewers here? a little bit more about yourself, your background, where you come from, and exactly what it is and that we're going to be talking about unlocking the potential of a business.

Brad Betson:
Yeah, no, I've spent many years in the construction field. I was in the coatings world with a company I owned with a couple other partners out of Minneapolis. We grew the business through just normal growth and improvement. And then we ended up acquiring another coatings company, one of our biggest competitors. And it kind of helped me transform and start to learn. It really had to up my game, as far as the entire. you know, growing the leadership team and so on within my own company. And then in 2017, we sold that business to private equity. And I stayed on for just a little while as to help with the, you know, the transformation. And then launched into leadership coaching with Pinnacle and the Pinnacle business guides, as you can see here behind me and even on my shirt. My business name is the team guide and you referred to a guide. Well, Think of, would you climb Mount Everest? Would you take on Everest without a guide? So I just really help the businesses go from, here's where you're at, but really where do you wanna go? And I just help guide you to get there, taking all that great work that you've already done and really helping you implement the right tools to get you there. So it's been a fun journey. And now I spend my time with LS and companies like you, helping the leadership team and the entire organization. You know. really become really clear on your vision share it with the whole organization and get everybody rolling in the same direction

Bryce:
Yeah, it's awesome. I know I can speak from our experience with you. It's just been a tremendous opportunity for us to kind of regroup, right? Rehuddle and focus on some of those core aspects of the business that just kind of get away from you. You know, when you're in the day to day and you're dealing with problems and customers and finances, you kind of lose sight of some of that stuff. So I'm excited to dive in today.

Brad Betson:
Yeah.

Bryce:
But just on the heels of all of that real quick, we know that Businesses face these challenges, right? A lot of the things that I just mentioned. I know here at LS, we're not immune to those things. And I know that those contractors out there, they aren't either. And so let's kind of tease some of those out. Some of the things that maybe you've experienced, you've heard about, what are some of the big problems that the contractors are experiencing in their businesses and kind of some of the pain points that they're running into?

Brad Betson:
Yeah, well, and every business again, even if you're in the same field, right? Roofing company to roofing company, they have their own issues and they're different a lot of times. So, you know, kind of like you had talked about when you're in it, a lot of times it's, I use the analogy and it's isn't from me, I stole this, but it's really tough to read the label when you're inside the bottle and what I mean by that is. You know, A lot of companies, they can get frustrated because they're doing well, but they know they can be doing better. So that's one of the reasons that entrepreneurs, business owners, leadership team members come to me. Others are, they're just life learners and they really truly want to be in a category of one. They really want to get to that next level growth. But some of the others are, they're stuck and they may have scaled their business to 10 million and from getting it to three to 10, that was great. But now how do you get it to 10 to 20? and they just become stuck. And a lot of times owners come to me, and some of them are a little bit frustrated, simply because they don't wanna be doing this all the time every single day. They are either looking for an exit strategy or they're looking to say, hey listen, I don't wanna scale it and sell it, I just don't wanna do this every single day and I want some freedom and so on, but how do I get there? And that's where I come in. Again, I mentioned earlier, taking you from here to here. and helping you bridge that gap and delivering on those tools that are completely custom to that specific business need.

Bryce:
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, it's so critical to reframe thinking in light of everything that you said. The day-to-day grind, dealing with customers, dealing with employees, right?

Brad Betson:
Yeah.

Bryce:
Making sure that everybody's operating and the whole business is running on all cylinders, that you're not stuck in first gear, right?

Brad Betson:
Yeah. Well, I always talk about, you know, that if you look like two teams that are, you know, heading up the mountain, you might have one team that's a little bit unorganized. There's no like clarity of who's the leader. There's no real roadmap. And there can, that causes frustration where other teams, they have a plan. It's clear who the leader is. And everyone in a sense is marching to the, you know, up the mountain in tune. They're going to get there a lot faster and some organizations, they just need some help. And that doesn't mean they're not doing well, because there's a lot of people who have great ideas, but a lot of times one idea can be this way, this way, and this way. And what we do is we just take all the great ideas that you've already had and maybe you even used to do, and make sure they're 100% aligned, and not only at the top, but throughout your organization. Because a lot of times, Bryce, and you know this, when you have some people issues, I would be willing to bet a nickel. that it usually stems from uncommunicated, clear expectation and direction.

Bryce:
Yep, absolutely. Expectations are opportunities for disappointment when they're not communicated well.

Brad Betson:
Yeah. And sometimes people say, well, no, I told them. I understand that, but we have to make sure that's in, you know, like, here's where we're going. You know what I mean? This is why we do this. You know, here's why the work is important. And if they all know their role, you know, in the old saying, right, right people, right seats, you know, the book Good to Great by Jim Collins is very true, but it's also doing the right work. Because, you know, leadership is easy to summarize. Excuse me. It's hard to implement. And that's a lot of times why people come to me. It's like, hey, again, we're doing well, but we need help. You know, we're missing some deadlines here and there or our goals and so they'll fizzle out or we'll just get caught in the weeds. And they just need someone to say, hey, listen, we need help with the implementation. And that's really what I do is come in and help you implement what's most important to you so we can get you in that direction of going, you know, filling that gap.

Bryce:
Yeah, when a business owner, when a contractor's in these situations where they're stuck in the grind, they've plateaued, they're constantly running up against the same problems over and over and over again, where do you start? Where do you recommend they go to kind of hit it at the core or go down to the foundation to really address some of those needs so that they aren't continually dealing with them?

Brad Betson:
Yeah. Well, that's a great question. And anyone that engages with me, I mean, it's, it's a conversation of where are you now? What are the things that are most frustrating you? Why do you believe your team is falling short? You know, can everyone state your strategy simply? Do you have a number one goal and is it crystal clear? You know, does everyone know what good looks like? How are your meetings? So there'd be a series of questions that I would just really get it. where are you and what are your specific needs? And once we address that and we talk it through, that's when we start to build that plan of, all right, here's how we're gonna dig out of this where hopefully we can get you to where you are falling in love with your business again, because a lot of times people have said, man, I've been doing this for 22 years, I just don't love it anymore. They don't love it anymore because again, something's missing. And sometimes again, like I mentioned earlier, you're just too close to it and I can come in or someone like me and just simply identify it and say, boom, what about this? And it's like, oh my gosh. Then they

Bryce:
Yeah.

Brad Betson:
think I'm really smart and it's not the case. It's just, I'm not wearing those blinders.

Bryce:
Right. Yeah, it's not habit or things that are new and fresh, we can pay attention to. But when you're in the day-to-day grind and you're seeing the same thing over and over, you're dealing with the same problems, sometimes it can be hard to identify what really needs to happen in order to fix it. And just to put a name to it, I know we've talked about, and really what it boils down to is this custom operating system. Can you speak a little bit more into all those little pieces that you kind of teased out there and just how it kind of all fits together within that framework?

Brad Betson:
Sure, and just kind of the framework of where we start, if you will. It starts and will always start and end with people. People first. We can't as a group or an organization, if you have more than one person, right, it takes both of you or a thousand of you, however big your organization is. So it's people first, and it's giving these people clear direction, and they're in the right seats, they're loving what they do, creating that great culture. Give them a purpose. This is why. we do what we do, right? It's not that, hey, we just install windows or we just frame and so on. Well, you're framing a building or a house. Someone's gonna need to operate their business in or live in. It's bigger than that. But a lot of times that's a critical one that gets missed. Then the next thing would be playbooks. I help companies take their processes and get them out of people's head and get them on paper. Right? Because what we want is to scale a company or anything, just to, you know, you have to build processes just like burgers and milkshakes, you know? So once you have the playbooks and processes documented, you know, out of people's head, like I mentioned, because a lot of times you hear, hey, oh boy, if Bryce leaves, you know, in accounting, we're screwed, because it's all up here, and it's tribal knowledge, and it's a dangerous place to be. So we do that, and then the next is performance. How do we start, you know, holding each other accountable? How do we start performing at a higher level? And when you do that, and there's scoreboards, meaning every sporting event you go to, you can show up late and look and say, oh, the Bradley Braves are up 21 to 17 over Southern Illinois because there's a scoreboard. So we really wanna make it clear, here's how this is what good looks like. And when you do that, when you have the right people, you give them the purpose and a vision. and a strategy that's crystal clear, and then we start documenting those playbooks and then holding people accountable in performance, there's a thing that comes naturally, it's called profits.

Bryce:
Yeah, I think it's so critical to have those scoreboards in place, the playbooks in play. I know it sounds like sports terminology and those words are, but within the context of business, I mean, having the playbooks in our experience has just been so helpful to, you know, directing attention, focusing energy. You can get so bogged down and. What is my job or what is my defined role? How am I helping the team in my unique position? Going back to that playbook is so critical. And similarly, those scoreboards, right? What am I doing to move the needle forward each week? I know that's something that you always say, and our team has an opportunity to come face to face, so to speak, with that scoreboard each week and say, guys, are we doing the things that actually matter?

Brad Betson:
Right. Yeah. Well, and those numbers, when we talk about the scoreboards, and those should be tied right into your profitability, you know, and if not, you know, we're measuring the wrong things and, and scoreboards, they're going to, they can change and evolve, but it's just, you know, if you don't have one, you know, if you're tuning into this, just get something, you know, that you can measure every week. And then what's really nice is when you can roll this thing out and then in your departments, everyone has a number. and they know how they are winning or not for the week. You know, a lot of times I'll have leadership teams come in at the quarter and we'll just simply say, okay, how'd you do? And they'll say eight for 12. Like, wow, you had a great quarter if you won eight weeks out of the 12. So it's important and a lot of times you'd be surprised, Bryce, when I'll ask people, you know, how does your team know if they're winning the week? They don't. You know, not every business, but a lot of times they just really don't. And that can drive frustration not only to the business owner, but really to the team.

Bryce:
Yeah, the confusion really of it all, right? Knowing that what you're working on matters and is contributing to the bottom line is helping you be an A player and bringing solutions and just doing the job that you, that's most critical for you to do each week. You said that each person knows their numbers. Can you tease that out a little bit more and how that plays into that play? that scoreboard and really directing the conversation from the meeting structures and the evaluations that take place quarterly.

Brad Betson:
Yeah, well again, each, you know, it takes a little while, but once, you know, let's say you have whatever, 150 people within the company, think about that. At the leadership level, right, we know, okay, if we think about there's three things every business has to do and do them well, it's get the work, do the work, and get paid, right? So that comes from my buddy, Keith Trost, but what do you have to do to get the work? A lot of times it's marketing and sales. Okay, well what are the key metrics that drive winning the week for marketing or for sales? Is it number of sales calls, it's revenue, it's profit, number of appointments, conversions, closing rate? I mean, there's all kinds of things you can measure. So once we set that, like you said, in a weekly meeting, I think it's our third item on our meeting list, right? Once we do a check-in or a rocker view, maybe it's second here, it's did we win the week? And we go through those critical numbers and we customize those. And it's crystal clear, we can look at the trailers and say, wow, Bryce in marketing, the last four weeks have been green. He's driving new leads, it's under, you know, whatever our allowance is for costs of acquisition and so on, and you can start to measure the numbers that matter. And not only does Bryce know, but everyone on the leadership team knows if Bryce, you know, in marketing or sales or ops or finance, here's where we're at. And the good thing with this is when it's visible like that and reviewed often, If the numbers become red, it's like, okay, time out. We know where we're not, where there's some holes in the bucket. And we go back in and let's evaluate and fix it.

Bryce:
Yeah, absolutely. And it keeps you honest too, right? Like

Brad Betson:
Yeah.

Bryce:
just being able to see it and have it on the board in front of everybody. Are you doing the work that we need you to do, right? So I

Brad Betson:
Yeah,

Bryce:
definitely...

Brad Betson:
yeah. Again, it's back to crystal clear expectations and communicated. So then if you think about that, not only is that a powerful thing when we have that with leadership, but what about then by the department, right? You know, if I'll take operations, usually 70, 80% of the whole company falls under ops. So when you have then an operations scoreboard for the department and all the way throughout. It becomes really powerful that, you know, the person who's driving the forklift in the shop or loading the trucks and, you know, and they know that, Hey, look, we won the week. There were no errors, you know, zero errors this week or deliveries. We were 99 and a half percent on time, on schedule. Now they're a part of something. And that type of stuff, believe it or not, that's what we want to drive the healthy culture because now I'm part of something bigger than just, Hey, you know, I get my paycheck every, you know, two weeks. They understand that they have a part in this and why we're doing it. So it becomes really fun.

Bryce:
Yeah, you know, you mentioned culture, and I think that that's a great segue into moving beyond just the nuts and the bolts of a custom operating system, but also into the positive effects and the outcomes of actually implementing it, right? Culture's a big one, you know? It can go amiss, it can get off track, and kind of having something for everybody to rally around and behind can kind of bring everybody back. How have you experienced that or kind of what can you say to the culture aspect of or the positive effects that implementing a custom operating system can have on a business?

Brad Betson:
Well, again, if you're talking about people first, culture isn't the only thing. Culture is actually the way you're gonna win the game. It really is because it all stems back from, do the people feel appreciated? Do they wanna show up to work? And I talk a lot to companies. When your team comes in on Monday with the same attitude as Friday, you know you've got a really kick butt culture. That takes work and commitment. It just because culture is such a loose word thrown around and you'd have to be living under a rock, you know? And if you look at Gallup, they do a lot of studies on employee engagement. And I mean, employee engagement has been in the 20s and low 30% from all US workers over the last, you know, I don't know, however many years that they've been doing this. And that's really bad, but that's easily changed, you know? And again, back to like you said, the operating system. We have something that, and you guys do this, quarterly touch base, quarterly coaching conversations. And it's just a way to sit down with the team, hey, what are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Are we supporting you enough? What more can I do for you as a leader? And when people really know that they have a voice, you know, that changes. I have lots of tools for team health, but it really does start at the top. You know, if you're really intentional about it and you truly do care about your people, I'm telling you, it's the easiest way. If you want to kind of step aside, well, grow your people and watch what they'll do and be intentional about it. They'll run through walls for you. They will do the heavy lifting. Right. But they'll also,

Bryce:
Right.

Brad Betson:
there's the, you have to be careful, Bryce, and you know this. If you're not genuine about it, they'll see right through it a mile away. And it works in reverse.

Bryce:
Yeah, yeah. It's all about people, right? Making sure that everybody feels heard, feels directed, and feels a part of the process, right? It's when they feel outside of what's going on, when they feel confused or lost, or I'm just punching in, punching out. you have an opportunity to engage them. Those quarterly conversations have an opportunity to, you know, help them feel heard, help them voice any frustrations and issues. But then I know too, just from experience working with you, you have a chance to address those. You know, you have a chance to show them, hey, we're gonna put our money where our mouth is. And we brought this up in a quarterly conversation this last quarter, and we're tackling it head on this next quarter to make your life easier, to make... things move smoother in your department, and at the end of the day, to increase the bottom line so that everybody benefits. I can give you a raise at the end of the year. We can achieve the goals that we've set out for the company.

Brad Betson:
Yeah, you know, and I often talk to leadership teams, you know, especially if they're complaining about their team or about people in general. If you want buy-in, it's important that you let them weigh in. You know, and again, these are things, Bryce, and you know this, they don't cost money. You know, to create a great culture, sure, it takes work, but it doesn't really, well, I shouldn't say it doesn't cost you anything. It costs you a ton if you get it wrong. Because you're A players, your top employees, right? If we're putting up with or tolerating things from a C player, the A players usually leave. And that'll tell you what type of real culture you have. But again, there are tools that you can do around that. And as you know, in our weekly meetings, you're touching in on that. What do we do magical for a teammate or who deserves a shout out, making sure. And again, if we're communicating, you know, each quarter with everyone and they understand, hey, this is what we're working on. Here's what leadership's doing. Here's where your role is. No one's running around the office saying, gosh, these guys, they don't ever tell me anything. I have no idea what the top priorities are. And that's the biggest thing is, again, back to that uncommunicated, clear expectation and vision of where we're going. And I just really hope everyone out there listening can... If you're saying it once... Say it five times. Ask them, Hey, repeat it back.

Bryce:
Yeah,

Brad Betson:
Is

Bryce:
yeah.

Brad Betson:
it, it is true.

Bryce:
This has been a lot. I know that there's a lot more that we can go into within the context of a custom operating system. I'm pleased to share, you know, we are gonna do an in-person series of these things, but there's a lot to wrap our heads around with all of this. If there's one thing or one initial first step that businesses could do in this realm to... work on the business, not in it, improve some of these systems and processes. Do you have a golden nugget that they could take away with them from this conversation today?

Brad Betson:
Well, I would say, you know, engage deep with your team and figure what's really working, what's not working. Are you measuring what matters? You know, those are things that you can do. Reach out as far as, you know, talk to whether it's me or someone like me. And because a lot of times when you get frustrated or you're not doing these things or you used to and you get away. Who do you go to? You know? A lot of times maybe you go home and speak to your spouse, you know, and they love you and they support you, but they may not get where you're at work with some of this stuff. So I would encourage you to, you know, to reach out, ask for some help. A lot of times, you know, don't let your ego get in the way because there's help out there. And if you select a system, that's fine, but I would tell you, don't worry about the system. Select, if you're gonna get into something like this, select the right guide. select the right mentor or coach that fits with your team. And that's what's been beautiful with LS. It's just, we jive very well together. So, you know, I don't think that really answers it here with one single nugget, but I would tell you this, don't wait, take the action, explore, because on the other end, you just, you know, the people on top of that mountain here behind me, I'll just tell you this, they didn't fall there.

Bryce:
Right, right. It's being intentional with the first step, recognizing that you wanna move beyond where you're currently at, and what is it gonna take to get there?

Brad Betson:
Yeah,

Bryce:
So.

Brad Betson:
it's gonna take hard work, I can assure you. It is not easy, but the good news is it takes some time and you know this, we've been working together now for over a year and things are really hitting, but it does take time and that's where after we meet a couple times in the first 90 days, we get into the quarterly rhythm because what happens is even when you're in this operating system, the wheels can get a little bit loose and it's like, okay, we need to go off site.

Bryce:
Right?

Brad Betson:
Tighten the wheels up. And the reason that every 90 days is just like, let's refocus on the top priorities for the next quarter. Because yes, you wanna look back and look around before you look up, but we really always wanna make sure that we're making the best decisions for the betterment of the business every single 90 days.

Bryce:
Yeah, and that's something that probably a lot of people aren't even doing right now, just making sure that they stay accountable and on some sort of regular cadence, putting themselves up against some sort of measurable or accountability

Brad Betson:
Yeah.

Bryce:
to reorient and focus.

Brad Betson:
Well, and you know this, Bryce, a lot of times people hear meetings and they're like, "'Oh my God, not another meeting.'" And if your meetings aren't very good, that's on you. I mean, it really is. And we have several meeting structures that I teach because if you look at like, where's a professional football player's stage? It's the gridiron, right? It's the football field. It's no different. What about the doctor? It's the operating room. And as business professionals, it's the meeting room. So we really help with that, which again, helps with communication, helps with accountability, helps with spreading the message throughout. And everybody's kind of doing the same thing, which drives your culture.

Bryce:
Definitely good stuff. Well, for those of you who have been listening along and are interested in learning more about like what Brad has to offer, what he's talking about with the whole custom operating system. You guys wanna dive deeper into this. As I mentioned, we'll be hosting a live workshop series with Brad in the coming months. So definitely be on the lookout for that. We'll be sharing some more information as far as location and time. But in the meantime, Brad, how can someone find you and reach out to you and learn more?

Brad Betson:
Yeah, yeah, if you're listening to this and you're saying, hey listen, I'd love to talk. My phone number is 651-336-2626. Send me an email at brad at theteamguide.com. I am always up for a conversation to help and there's no charge to any of that stuff, you know, so. We'll talk about your specific situation, where are you, but most importantly, where do you want to go? What's getting in the way? And if I have anything that I can share with you or send or walk you through it, I'll do so. And sometimes after those conversations, people say, hey, come on in, meet the team, let's talk further. So any of that is available, and I would be more than happy to give anyone listening to this an hour of my time or 45 minutes, whatever it is, just to talk about your specific situation. and how I could potentially help you.

Bryce:
good stuff. For those of you out there interested, definitely take them up on that hour session. If this is even a remote possibility for you because that hour session you're I won't guarantee it but I'll say your mind's probably gonna be blown with some of the things that you're not considering or that you haven't thought of that you definitely should be paying more attention to. So anyway thank you for that offer Brad and like

Brad Betson:
Absolutely.

Bryce:
I said we're gonna be having a live workshop coming up too. If you're gonna look out for that, you'll join us for a two-part series, and we'll host that in a couple different locations to make sure that it's available to as many of you as possible. But thank you again, Brad, for joining us today. That's a wrap for today's episode, and until next time, let's keep building success together. Thanks guys.

Brad Betson:
Thank you, Bryce.

Bryce:
Yep, have a great day.

Brad Betson:
You too.

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