Business Builders Blog

Category: Building Great Teams

Exit Plan Essentials for Contractors (Part III)

In the final installment of this three-part series, Exit Strategy Essentials for Contractors, I talk with Tom and Barb about how they exited their business, and what valuable lessons they learned along the way. In this interview, we get into the nitty gritty of having difficult conversations as well as being aware of the sensitivities necessary in navigating the topic of succession. This is a must-watch interview!

Having the Business Function Without You

Tom and Barbara understand the unique challenges of the contractor lifestyle, and how it can be consuming and end up in burnout. Tom shares what it took to be able to step away from the business and have it run without him.

Succession Planning: Ensuring a Smooth Transition

Tom and Barbara stressed the need to start early and involve key stakeholders in the process. They discuss the importance of identifying and bringing in support you can trust during the process. They also speak candidly about the sticking points in the process… where the real “you don’t know what you don’t know” things really bubble up to the surface.

Planning Your Future: Setting Clear Goals

Whether you’re planning to retire or take on a different role in your business, having a clear plan for your future is essential. Tom emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals for yourself and your business, and regularly reviewing and adjusting them as needed. Barbara highlights the importance of seeking the support of professionals with succession planning expertise. They also share how they structured their buyout.

Building a Legacy: Leave a Lasting Impact

For Tom and Barbara, building a legacy is about more than just financial success. It’s about leaving a lasting impact on their employees, customers, and community. Their advice: Find support to help identify your own family succession planning process with specific steps to narrow down what you think you need to accomplish. They share some of the tough questions to consider as you navigate this process for yourself.

Plan Your Exit Strategy Today

As a contractor, planning your exit strategy is essential to building a successful business and leaving a lasting legacy. Follow the advice of industry experts like Tom and Barbara Weiher, and start planning your future today. Remember, it’s never too early to start planning for your exit strategy.

Exit Plan Essentials for Contractors (Part II)

In Part I of the Exit Plan Essentials for Contractors series, we dug into succession planning and how to begin thinking about what that could look like for your business and your life. This week, in Part II, I’m sharing my interview with Louis Weiher of Carmel Builders where we dig into the complexities of transitioning from manager to leader, especially in family businesses.  Louis shares his experience and a great roadmap for navigating this transition with his 12 Tips for Successful Succession.”

Uncovering the Hidden Obstacles…

Louis shares his journey from initially resisting joining the family business to eventually taking over and the lessons he learned along the way. One critical aspect he emphasized was the distinction between ownership, management, and leadership. While ownership transfer may seem straightforward, transitioning management and leadership roles requires clear communication and planning.

Louis’ Story: From Confusion to Clarity…

Louis shared the struggle he and his folks faced in clearly defining roles and responsibilities. He discusses how outlining a “transition job description” at the outset would have been very helpful in his journey. This simple yet effective step can clarify expectations for both the incoming leader and the team. Additionally, setting a clear timeline for the transition and regularly communicating it to the team can help manage expectations and reduce uncertainty. Louis explains here how to do that.

Building Success Brick-By-Brick…

One touchpoint from Louis’s experience was the importance of aligning the company’s mission and core values with the new leadership. By involving the team in redefining the mission statement, Louis was able to create a sense of ownership and commitment among team members. Another point Louis touches on is the importance of NOT just jumping in when a question comes up, especially during the transition phase as it undermines the other party.

Unlocking Clarity in Your Business…

Financial considerations are often a major aspect of succession planning for contractors. Louis shares a unique approach taken with his parents, where they retained a small ownership stake and became board members, receiving a fixed stipend and a share of profits. This arrangement not only provided financial security for his parents but also ensured ongoing involvement and guidance from them.

The Blueprint to Clarity

Louis’s story underscores the importance of thoughtful planning, clear communication, and alignment of values in successful succession planning. By addressing these aspects, you can begin to build a legacy that extends beyond ownership, creating a sustainable and thriving business for future generations.

Get Louis’ free checklist 12 Tips to Successful Succession.

See you next week for the final installment of this series where I interview Louis’ parents and what it was like for them to relinquish the reigns and what they learned from this experience!

Exit Plan Essentials for Contractors – Part I

Have you been thinking about what your succession plan might look like for your business?

You’re not alone – this is one of the MOST front of mind issues I’m hearing a lot of contractors talking about these days.

This week, we start the first of a 3-part series on success: succession planning. In Part I talk with David Lupberger, a former contractor turned succession planning expert, about how to transition from the daily grind to enjoying the fruits of your labor. In Parts II and III, I share an interview I did with a prior owner and new owner of a design-build firm.

Navigating Life Beyond the Jobsite:

Picture this: You’ve built your construction business from the ground up, pouring your heart and soul into it for decades. Now, you’re at a crossroads, wondering how to step back, breathe, and savor life beyond the job site. The challenge? You’re stuck in the day-to-day operations, unable to envision a future where the business runs smoothly without your constant involvement.

A Blueprint for Transition:

This video features an interview I did with David Lupberger of Contractor Transition Strategies. David is a seasoned pro who has walked the contractor’s path. He emphasizes a step-by-step approach to guide you toward creating a legacy, and maintaining profitability while giving your employees and company the confidence they need to ensure a smooth transition.

David’s first piece of advice? Develop a clear organizational chart and pinpoint tasks you can delegate within the next six months. This simple exercise lays the groundwork for freeing yourself from tasks you’d rather not be handling.

The next step is to document those tasks. Putting your valuable insights on paper transforms them into a tangible training resource for your team, ensuring a smooth transfer of knowledge. Additionally, David mentions his helpful tool, the Exit Readiness Assessment (, designed to help you identify potential successors. This forward-thinking process ensures your business can keep running even when you’re not at the helm.

Take the Succession Assessment Now!

Get into action and take David’s Exit Readiness Assessment. In just 15 minutes, you can gauge where you stand on the succession planning path. This invaluable resource highlights areas that may require immediate attention, allowing you to prioritize your next steps.

Click here to take the Exit Assessment and begin your journey toward a business that functions well whether you are in it or not.

Crafting Your Legacy:

While succession planning may not be the sexiest topic, it is crucial for the longevity of your construction business. Even if you’re not looking to get out of the business, what David shares is essential if you want to find more time in your day!

Join me next week for Part II of this 3-part series where I interview a son who bought the business from his parents and shares what worked well and what didn’t.

Constructing Your Vision: How to Set Achievable Goals

Happy New Year! As we embrace the fresh start that comes with a new year, it’s a perfect time for reflection and goal setting, especially in the dynamic world of construction. While many of us set personal resolutions, the real game-changer lies in constructing a vision and setting achievable goals in our businesses.

A common challenge for many businesses is beginning the year without a clear direction. Often, we get caught up in the operational whirlwind and lose sight of long-term objectives. This lack of focus can lead to stagnation and missed opportunities, impacting both business growth and personal satisfaction.  The key is doing some simple goal-setting as I’ve outlined in this post.

A Personalized Approach

Instead of the usual New Year’s resolutions, I advocate for a more profound, vision-focused approach. Ask yourself: “A year from now, what will I want to have achieved?” This question shifts your focus from the immediate ‘how’ to the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your goals. It’s about envisioning your desired outcomes first. This is just like planning a project – you start with a blueprint or schematic of what the end looks like BEFORE you begin building out a budget!

One General Contractors Plan

Consider a success story from my client Debbie… Her vision began with setting specific goals for increasing revenue by 10% and maintaining a 10-12% bottom-line net profit. Then she envisioned developing two team members into senior roles, freeing her to focus on strategy and client engagement. She then outlined her vision for what it looked like to have them managing day-to-day operations. This clear vision allowed her to see her business operations and personal work from a different perspective, and she was able to make a clear plan with her team of how this would get accomplished. First, though, she had to define what the “blueprint” looked like.

Clarity in Goal-Setting

The solution lies in having a clear vision of what it will look like once accomplished. By vividly picturing your ideal year-end scenario, you set a clear direction for your business. This clarity guides your decisions and actions throughout the year, keeping you aligned with your ultimate objectives.

Action Steps

  • Define Clear Goals: What does success look like for you this year? Be specific.
  • Write Them Down: Goals in writing are commitments rather than just good ideas.
  • Regular Reviews: Schedule quarterly check-ins to track your progress and make necessary adjustments.

Your Year of Success

Now, it’s your turn to envision and actualize a successful year. I encourage you to watch the accompanying video for deeper insights into this process. Take this opportunity to reflect, write down your goals, and regularly review them. Remember, a clear vision is the first step towards a remarkable year in your construction business. Let’s make this year count, not just in numbers, but in the satisfaction and growth you achieve!

The Power of Celebrating the Wins!

As business owners, it’s all too common to move quickly from one thing to the next, often overlooking the victories we achieve along the way. This habitual oversight can rob us (and our employees) of the joy inherent in our accomplishments.

In this post, discover the power of celebrating wins, big and small, that is both fun and rewarding. Along the way, you’ll discover how this approach can inspire and motivate your team as well!

Celebrating The Wins – a key to employee motivation

Each year, I encourage my clients to pause and reflect on their successes. This isn’t just about financial targets met; it’s about acknowledging the smaller, yet significant, victories. Did you hire a great team member? Overcome a major challenge? Turn an unhappy client into a satisfied one? These are all wins worth celebrating and sharing with your employees.

The Power of Reflection

Looking back over the past year is an enlightening exercise. It’s not just about what goals were met or missed; it’s about recognizing the progress made in various aspects of your business. This can include improvements in team performance, enhanced client relationships, or even a slight increase in your close rate. Such reflections can be a powerful tool in understanding the strides you’ve made.

Sharing Success with Your Team

Once you’ve identified these wins, share them with your team. This act of sharing not only fosters a sense of collective achievement but also boosts morale and motivates people to want to continue to contribute. Let your team know their efforts have contributed to these successes. It’s essential to celebrate these moments as they often overshadow the daily grind of running a construction business.


As we approach the end of the year, or even at the start of a new one, take a moment to engage in this exercise, and tap into the power of celebrating the wins and successes of the past year. Record your thoughts, then, choose the highlights you’d like to share with your team. Remember, personal wins are just as important as professional ones.

In my next video, I’ll delve into setting goals and visions for the upcoming year. Until then, I wish you a prosperous close to this year and a joyous start to the next. Let’s not forget to celebrate our wins, as they are the milestones of our journey in business.

Remember, every win, no matter how small, is a step towards greater success in your business.

bonus plans that work

Do you often grapple with the dilemma of how much to bonus your employees, or if your current bonus system truly resonates with them? If you’re nodding along, you’re not alone. Many business owners in the construction industry express that bonuses have become an expected annual tradition, leading to a mix of resentment and feeling unappreciated when their generosity isn’t met with the enthusiasm they hoped for.

Bonus Expectations: A Common Conundrum

Imagine the scenario of Dean, a general contractor, whose employees expected bonuses every year just as a part of their pay, but never thanked him for it —perhaps a familiar echo in your own business.
It’s a tricky spot, balancing generosity with a desire for gratitude. Let’s face it, with the intense competition for skilled labor, bonuses can feel more like a bidding war than a reward. But before you write off the concept, let’s consider the purpose behind your bonus. Is it obligation driving you or the genuine wish to acknowledge hard work?

Two Critical Steps to Effective Bonuses

When pondering over bonuses, ask yourself, why are you giving them? Are they just a tick on your end-of-year checklist, or do they serve a higher purpose? Here’s a blueprint for making bonuses more than a mere obligation:

  1. Define Your Intent: Start with why. Understanding your intent for giving a bonus—whether it’s to express appreciation or to keep up with industry standards—will guide your strategy.
  2. Personalize Acknowledgment: A personal touch can make all the difference. Take Lisa, a project manager at Dean’s company for instance. A simple note detailing her proactive efforts and dedication to improving operations turned a standard bonus into a heartfelt gesture of appreciation.

Bonus Ideas: From Simple to Elaborate

Not all bonuses have to break the bank. Here are some tailored suggestions for your team:

  • Gift Cards and a Party: Celebrate the year’s success with something everyone can enjoy.
  • Profit Sharing: Consider a lump sum divided by a weighted average of employee salaries.
  • Position-Based Rewards: A flat amount for each role, reflecting their unique contributions.
  • The Gift of Time: A paid week off during the festive season can be a valuable gift.

The Power of a Personal Note

What made a difference for Dean was a shift to meaningful, individualized notes that paired with the bonuses. It’s about grounding each reward with specific, genuine recognition. Like the note to Lisa, where her commitment was not only acknowledged but also celebrated with tangible examples, showing her real, valued impact on the company.

Your Turn to Shine

If the idea of setting up an effective bonus program seems daunting, consider the advice above. And remember, irrespective of the bonus size or type, including a personal acknowledgment can be the most impactful gift you give your employees.

We Want to Hear from You!

If you’ve got innovative ideas on bonusing, or stories of what’s worked for you, share them in the comments. Let’s build a community where we learn from each other and elevate our teams together.

Bonus Better

Bonuses are a powerful tool when done right. They can boost morale, foster loyalty, and enhance productivity. By following the steps outlined, you can create a bonus program that truly appreciates and motivates your employees.

Watch and Learn: Bonus Blueprint That Works!

Click the video to dive deeper into crafting a bonus system that works for your business. Use it, share it, and let’s grow together. Don’t let another year end in unappreciated gestures. Bonus with intent and watch appreciation, and your business, thrive.