The Profit Builder

Hiring The Best / Maximizing Margins

If you ever hired someone who didn’t work out in the job, and not sure where you went wrong, you’ll want to watch this week’s video.

If you want to know the secret to increasing your profit margins, then you want to watch this week’s video.

Jared Gossett has been a successful builder for many years, and a while back started a radio podcast that is all about helping Builders and Remodelers take their businesses to the next level.  When Jared asked me to be a guest on his Building Optimal Radio show and talk about best practices around hiring and managing profit margins, I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with someone else passionate about helping contractors build successful businesses.

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8 Strategies to help you find great employees

The one thing every manager and leader I know can agree on is that it’s tough to find good people to hire these days.  Particularly in construction – an industry that doesn’t seem to hold much interest for younger people.

In this weeks video blog I share with you 8 ways to find qualified candidates, and tips that can help you “think outside of the box.”  At the end of the video I even share with you a special resource that will help you get other people to help you find great candidates too – at no cost to you.

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Managing Emotional or Challenging Clients

Often while doing an initial check-in with clients as our meetings begin, I hear tales of challenging projects.  Almost always they involve an emotional or indecisive homeowner, or a demanding client. It usually comes down to the contractor wishing the client would just trust them, let them do their job, and for heaven’s sake, just pick out what tile you want – otherwise this kitchen will never get finished!

While talking with my friend Ed Earl (affectionately known as the Zen Builder) about his approach to managing clients, I instantly thought – “gosh, my clients and followers could get huge value from hearing Ed’s approach to managing client relationships.” 

That day he shared with me his approach to circumventing those challenges. That conversation is what inspired me to interview Ed for this blog post. 

In the video Ed shares with us his strategies for understanding and managing the client relationship.  He provides some powerful insights that will help you AND your client have a better experience in the construction process. At the end of the video, Ed also shares a resource that will definitely help you create a better “win-win” on your next project!

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2 Simple ways to get staff to take more ownership

One of the key complaints I hear from managers and leaders is that their staff don’t take ownership. This challenge seems to be universal as evidence in a survey I did recently where 72% of respondents said they struggled with this very issue. 

In this week’s blog, my guest Sonja Stetzler shared with me two simple things managers and leaders can do to get their teams to take more ownership.  At the end of the blog, she even provides a simple “cheat sheet”  you can use.

Hope you find this 20-minute video helpful in supporting you on your leadership journey.


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What Stops You?

This week I caught myself in the mental loop of “ya-buts”.  You know, the little voice in our head that paralyzes us from taking action.  That voice that runs through the litany of things that make us second guess, not trust ourselves, and then . . . hesitate. 

And stop.

In today’s video, I share with you the question I asked myself that helped me get back into action.

Maybe it will help you too the next time you feel stuck in inaction.

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The real reason employees lack ownership…

Some of the most common complaints I hear from business owners and managers is, “It’s tough to find good people to work for me!” and, “people just don’t take ownership of their job!”

You may think the problem is all because of a labor shortage, or that people lack motivation or a good work ethic, but it may be something else.

This is what I talk about in today’s video blog. Enjoy!

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I stopped doing this, and it made me less effective…

For the past few months, the topic of social media has been nagging at me. It’s something I know I need to pay more attention to. Not just because it’s a “should” but because I know that if I’m going to accomplish my goals, I’ve got to get better at what I’m doing in that arena.

Each week I move the “gotta address” list of social media issues from one place to another on my desk, promising myself that I’ll get back to it.  Daily I think to myself “I’ve got to sit down with that list and make a plan.”

That nagging feeling and angst of uncertainty occupies a lot of space in my brain, and always has me wondering “am I going to completely blow it if I don’t do something with this stuff soon?”

Today while meeting with my VA (virtual assistant) Dortha who handles my social media, it suddenly became clear to me what the real problem is. 

About three months ago I stopped meeting with her on our every other week schedule.  We used to meet every two weeks, and when we did, we had an agenda and a list of projects we were working to move forward. 

Without the meetings, those projects didn’t go away. And while we were communicating via email, there was always these pieces that just didn’t get addressed.  Those pieces I kept in my head and kept carrying around on that piece of paper.

Today as we were talking, this sense of clarity and certainty about what we need to do next became completely evident.  My angst and worry subsided, and I felt like we were back on the same page.  

It was clear that our stopping our meetings made me, and her, less effective in what we are doing.  And it caused me to let that “list” to occupy much too much of my mental time and energy.

As we ended our meeting we set our next meeting for two weeks.  I knew that this was the key to my being more effective in this area of my business, and was reminded that when I have a consistent set of practices for managing results with my team, communication flows better, I have more peace of mind, and we get more stuff done!

Recently my friend Josh Patrick invited me to be a guest on his podcast, and on it, I talk more about how to create a consistent set of practices around managing for results, or as the title of the interview says, “Top Down Management.” 

It’s a quick listen, so go check it out.

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The ONE thing you can do to ensure that candidate is a right fit…

When asked what their biggest frustration was as a manager, over 30% of survey respondents said they wished they were better at hiring.

In the early stages of my career, I remember feeling that way as a manager.  I was hiring a lot of people who didn’t seem to be the right fit, and it was super frustrating.

Can you relate?

That frustration pushed me to learn how to hire better.  I learned that one of the key steps was knowing how to ask better questions.

Questions that let you get insight into the candidate’s depth of their skill, practices, and qualifications to the job well.

Questions that let you how they think, their strengths, weaknesses, and how they problem solve.

Questions that help you get to know the candidate, not just on paper, but as a person.

Asking those kinds of questions gives you a whole different understanding of who that person is, and if they are really qualified to do the job.

In this week’s video, I walk you through what kinds of questions to ask, and what to listen for too. I help you understand how to set up the interview to ensure you’re confident and clear if the candidate is a right fit, or not.

At the bottom of this post, is a link where you can get those questions to use the next time you’re interviewing.

I’d love to hear what is one of your practices, systems or discipline you have that has helped you in hiring better – so leave a comment below.  Or, reach out to me on LinkedIn or Facebook and tell me.  

Make it a great day!



P.S. Each of the questions has tips on what to listen for as people respond. Those tips can help you listen for “right fit” in regard to skills, qualifications, and personality. And you’ll stop feeling uncertain as to whether or not that person can really do the job.

P.P.S. If you found this post helpful, would you please share it?

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.

Attracting “A-Players” to work for you…

In a survey I did last week, I asked respondents where they would like to be more effective as a manager or leader.  45% said attracting and hiring “A-Players” to their team.

The complaint I hear a lot these days is “it’s tough to find good people to work for us – it’s an employees market.” 

That statement has me think back to 2009 when people were saying “it’s tough to find work these days – it’s a buyers’ market.”

While I fully appreciate the reality of supply and demand, this thought occurs to me…


Doing this 1 thing can help alleviate your worry…

As Don sat down across from me the worry and angst on his face was palpable.  “What’s up?” I asked?

“I know we’re in better shape at the beginning of this year than we were last year at this time, but I’m worried that it’s not enough.  I’m concerned that the economy is going to turn, and we won’t have enough work.”

I can relate.  We’re all wondering when the economy is going to take a turn. And none of us have a crystal ball that will tell us that.

But what we do have is data.  Data that can help us alleviate at least some of that uncertainty and worry.

I asked Don if he knew how much his backlog was as of the beginning of the year.  “No” he explained, “we have just been pushing to get as much work done as we could by year-end to meet schedule deadlines, and we’re trying to ramp up bidding right now.”

With all the balls we must juggle as business owners, it can be difficult to take the time to stop and look at the data.  And yet, it is exactly that which will allow us to get more clarity, focus, and certainty about what we need to be doing to “have it all turn out okay.”

Finding relief in the numbers        

Looking at the data will let you move from worry and uncertainty, to have certainty and focus on what actions you need to take.

I asked Don if he could easily access this information, and could we look at it together. He said yes, and as we started to dig into his project reports we pulled out the following information…

               The balance remaining on contracts at 12/31/18.  I asked him to include T&M projects and an estimated amount that he would bill for the balance of the project.

               Value of contracts on projects signed, and not yet started

With this data in hand, we spread out over 12 months the amount he projected to bill on each project by month.  I suggested he be conservative.

Then we took his revenue goal for the year and split that out by month, taking into accounts fluctuations of when he is busier or slower.

We then tallied up the amount he projected to bill each month in total and compared that to his revenue goal by month. 

This allowed Don to see exactly how much he was short or over per month and for the year to meet his revenue goals. 

As we reviewed the data, Don’s face began to soften, and the look of worry faded from his face. 

He suddenly smiled and said “wow, that’s the biggest backlog I’ve ever had at one time! And while I’m a little freaked out by the fact that I have that much more to sell this year, I now can at least see exactly how much that is!”

When you can see it, you can do something about it


In today’s video I walk you through how to use this kind of tracking tool and give you a link to a worksheet I’ve developed that you can use right now to develop your own backlog tracking worksheet.

As I told Don, and I’d recommend for you, if you want to have more peace of mind and alleviate the worry of whether your going to make it, update this spreadsheet every month.

Even if the numbers don’t show a picture you want to see, it will at least let you get clear on how much of a gap exists between where you are and where you want to be, so you will know definitively how much you still need to sell.

Hope you find this information helpful. 




p.s.  Get my Backlog Tracking Tool at no charge, and start having a greater sense of clarity and stop the worry!

p.p.s.  If you found this article helpful, please share it with an associate or friend?

p.p.p.s.  In my book, The Profit Bleed, I talk in more depth about other ways you can get more peace of mind and stop worrying.  AND start having more control over the results of your business.  For a limited time, it’s available for FREE, so check it out.

Vicki Suiter helps people see their businesses differently, then gives them the tools to do things differently.  Since beginning her business in 1990, Vicki has helped hundreds of contractors achieve the kind of success they never dreamed possible. Today, in addition to consulting, Vicki is an in-demand speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Vicki’s articles and opinions have been widely shared in print and across the web. She is also the author of the book “The Profit Bleed” How managing margin can save your contracting business.

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