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More Work Coming In Than You Can Produce? – Here’s Some Guidance and Advice

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Apr 27,2016 @ 09:25 AM

More Work Coming In Than You Can Produce? – Here’s Some Guidance and Advice

Increasing production capacity at a remodeling businessThe Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University indicates that the dollars spent on remodeling will increase by 8.6% by the end of 2016.   Most remodelers are already feeling this surge in spending as their backlog of work keeps increasing and at the same time the number of estimates they need to push out is also increasing.  Smart business owners seeing this happening are already increasing their field staff capacity to take advantage of the work.  Adding staff can help get more work done.  However if production efficiency and organization are challenged due to the growth profits can quickly drop. To help these contractors out I have searched out and assembled the list of articles below. Each article is helpful, but collectively they can help identify a plan of action contractors can take to protect the profits they expect to earn by growing their businesses.

A good number of contractors have been contacting me for help in this area.  Most share now that they have more staff they are challenged to properly manage them and the sequence of work. Others report they have come to realize they may have hired the wrong staff.  The solutions to these problems are actually not that difficult to put in place.  What typically gets in the way is not knowing what systems to put in place to support the growth and how to get things started. 


Here is one message I got just today, from an employee:

“Hello. I was hired 3 years ago as an estimator. We had 2 carpenters and a super. We now have grown into 7 carpenters, super, production manager and additional secretary. None of our carpenters are "lead carpenters" but about 4 think they are. We are experiencing some growing pains for sure so any input would help. Thanks.”


Hiring the right carpenters and production managersSo, here is my list of helpful articles for contractors seeking to advance and grow their production capabilities.  The articles will help enlighten you to what your options are as well as several important considerations to be aware of before you jump in and get things started. I hope you find the info helpful and motivating.


List of articles about growing production capacity at a Remodeling Company:

Options for Managing Production

What’s the Difference Between a Production Manager and a Production Supervisor?

All I want for Christmas… Is a Real Production Manager!

Is He Really a Lead Carpenter?

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 1

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 2

Checklist for Implementing the Lead Carpenter System

Considerations for Putting the Right Employee on the Right Job

Help With Evolving From Contractor to Construction Business Owner


Topics: New Business Realities, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Earning More Money, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 2

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jul 09,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 2

Skills to be a lead carpenterAs I pointed out in part one of this article skilled carpenters are assumed to have the trade skills needed to do the work at hand and to understand construction. But just because a carpenter has these skills doesn’t necessarily also mean he or she has the rest of what it takes to be a successful Lead Carpenter. In the first article I listed the basic skills and thinking skills a carpenter must possess to be eligible to become a Lead Carpenter. Below is the second half of a list of key skills a carpenter should have or will need to acquire to become a great Lead Carpenter. We will be covering these topics and others at our Lead Carpenter System Workshop for business owners coming this summer.


This second list describes the people skills and personal qualities a carpenter must possess before becoming a great Lead Carpenter. These are skills that can be learned and mastered while working as a carpenter. Training, supervision, mentoring and coaching by the business owner and or other leaders in the business can help the right carpenters acquire these very important skills. Before investing in a carpenter in these areas make sure your Lead Carpenter to be has the demonstrated cognitive ability and willingness to learn and apply such skills.


People Skills needed to be a Lead Carpenter

  • Social: Has a natural ability to show understanding, friendliness, and respect for the feelings of others, but at the same time is able to assert oneself when appropriate. Also takes genuine interest in what people say and why they think and act the way they do.
  • Negotiation: Ability to assess and identify common goals among different parties and at the same time clearly present their and the company’s position. Can also examine possible options and make reasonable compromises.Lead Carpenter skills
  • Leadership: Can appropriately communicate thoughts and feelings to justify a position. Can also encourage or convince while making positive use of rules or values. Demonstrates the ability to have others believe in and trust in them because of demonstrated competence and honesty.
  • Teamwork: Contributes to the team offering ideas and effort, but also does his or her share of the work to be done. Has the ability to encourage other team members and can resolve differences for the benefit of the team. At the same time can responsibly and appropriately challenge existing procedures, policies, or authorities for constructive purposes.
  • Cultural Diversity: Works well with people having different ethnic, social, or educational backgrounds and understands the cultural differences of different groups. Can also help the people in different groups make and embrace cultural adjustments when necessary.


Happy_lead_carpenter-wrPersonal qualities needed to be a Lead Carpenter

  • Self-Esteem: Understands how beliefs affect how others feel and act. Can identify irrational or harmful beliefs they may have and understand how to change and or adjust them when needed.
  • Self-Management: Honestly assesses his or her knowledge and skills accurately. Proactively sets specific and realistic personal as well as professional goals and can self monitor progress toward those goals.
  • Responsibility: Works hard to reach goals, even if the task is unpleasant. Will consistently do quality work and maintains a high standard of attendance, honesty, energy, and optimism.


Click here to see a Job Description for a Lead carpenter

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Click here to read part one of this article


Other articles to help contractors and construction business owners choose and grow the right carpenters into Lead Carpenters

Helping Lead Carpenters Become Managers Benefits Them and The Business

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter?  Probably Not!

Interesting Considerations For Putting The Right Employee On The Right Job

Getting Employees to Think Like Owners


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Team Building, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching, Culture, Leadership

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 1

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 07,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Key Differences Between Carpenters and Great Lead Carpenters: Part 1

Creating lead carpentersSkilled Carpenters are assumed to have the trade skills needed to do the work at hand and to understand construction. But just because a carpenter has these skills doesn’t necessarily also mean he or she has the rest of what it takes to be a successful Lead Carpenter. Below is the first half of a list of key skills a carpenter should have or will need to acquire to become a great Lead Carpenter. I created this list to help carpenters and construction business owners improve their chances of success developing Lead Carpenters and a true Lead Carpenter System.  


Skills to be a lead carpenter


This first list describes the basic skills and thinking skills a carpenter must possess to be eligible to become a Lead Carpenter. These are skills that should be inherent to the carpenter already, learned from an early age through schooling and practical application as a person evolves from childhood to adulthood.   If a carpenter does not already possess these skills the chances of success as a Lead Carpenter will be greatly compromised.

In my next article I will discuss the people skills and personal qualities a great Lead Carpenter must learn and develop.


Basic skills needed to be a Lead Carpenter:

  • Math skills for a lead carpenterSpeaking: Ability to speak clearly including selecting language, tone of voice, and gestures appropriate to a specific audience.
  • Listening: Listens carefully to what people say, noting tone of voice and their body language, then can respond in a way that shows a true understanding of what is said.
  • Reading: Ability to identify relevant facts and locate information in books or manuals. Ability to find the meanings of unknown words and use computers to find information.
  • Writing: Ability to write ideas completely and accurately with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Also able to use computers to communicate information in writing.
  • Mathematics: Ability to use numbers, fractions, and percentages to solve problems and communicate solutions.


Thinking skills needed to be a Lead Carpenter

  • Carpenter_framing-wrCreative Thinking: Has the ability and is not afraid to use imagination freely to combine ideas or information in new ways. Can easily make connections between ideas that seem unrelated to others.
  • Problem-Solving: Can easily recognize a problem, identify why it is a problem, create and implement a solution, and naturally watches to see how well attempted solutions work so they can be revise as needed.
  • Decision Making: Can identify goals, suggest alternatives and gather information about them. Can identify and weigh pros/cons and choose the best alternative along with a plan to follow through.
  • Visualization: The ability to imagine, strategize and sequence the construction of a building, object or system by looking at a blueprint or drawing.


Don't miss Part-2 of the list

Subscribe to the Design/Builders Blog Be sure to come back here to find the second half of this checklist to learn about people skills and personal qualities a great Lead Carpenter must learn and develop. It will be published in a few days.   To be automatically notified via email when new blogs are published simply subscribe to the Design/Builders Blog.


Click here to see a Job Description for a Lead carpenter

Other articles to help contractors and construction business owners choose and grow the right carpenters into Lead Carpenters

Evolve From Being A Contractor To Being A Construction Business Owner

Afraid To Hire Production Employees For Fear I Would Run Out Of Work For Them

A lead-carpenter system helps both the business and the employees to grow

Compliance Checklist: Will You Be Ready If OSHA Visits Your Job Site?


Topics: Worker Training, Careers in Construction, Recruting, Employee Advancement, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching

Benefits Of Helping Lead Carpenters Become Managers

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Sep 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Helping Lead Carpenters Become Managers Benefits Them And The Business

Why use lead carpenters


As a construction company moves into a true Lead Carpenter system, managers and lead carpenters may become confused and insecure with the idea that the lead carpenter isn’t always “working” or “productive”; at least in the traditional sense.  Knowing in advance that this can actually happen is a great way of avoiding the confusion and insecurities.  A lead carpenter in training might not necessarily like what’s happening, but being forewarned and understanding that this is a typical side effect helps to relieve the stress and speed up the transition.


Motivating them to make the changes

It’s a fact of human nature for any of us; being required to leave our comfort zone for a new way of doing things creates resistance.  You can defuse that resistance by helping your leads discover the new opportunities this change can bring about for them as well as your business.


For them: A chance to create their own destiny:

lead carpenter system benefitsWith the right manager and company, a good lead carpenter has a huge opportunity for personal and professional growth. Proper training as well as the ability to implement what is learned creates many opportunities for a lead carpenter. As we implemented the system at my remodeling company, our leads discovered that this new role generated a variety of benefits for them. For example; our leads discovered that they could delegate to others those activities that they preferred not to do.  At first this included activities like roofing, insulation and siding. Soon they discovered that if they could find a landscape subcontractor to supply laborers to dig footing holes, they no longer had to dig those holes (provided the cost was within the project’s budget, including the lead’s management time).

For the Lead Carpenter it created a way to control what they did and didn’t do on each project. They also recognized that they had more physical energy left on Friday afternoon. This was an immediate benefit to their social and family lives, but was also a long-term benefit in terms of their careers. Mastering a lead carpenter system certainly can prepare that person for future management roles, or simply allow a carpenter’s body to make it until retirement.

Benefits to the business:

Mastering a lead carpenter system



As a company, we discovered that these personal benefits for our leads had created other residual beneficial effects we had not originally anticipated. This type of delegation quickly became a way of doing business.  As the company grew, the need for more subcontractors grew as well. Soon our leads were finding, qualifying and developing relationships with new subs.  They were also helping us find good carpenters to hire who also wanted to become lead carpenters.  The benefits to the business were many…  


Some of the benefits my company came to realize included:

  1. The ability to grow the business quickly but with control
  2. More sub contractors to choose from, particularly when current subs can’t meet the scheduling requirements of a growing company
  3. Higher volume of production without increasing the number of production employees
  4. Why use a lead carpenter systemFewer risks of losing and replacing in-house production employees
  5. Subs observe your company style and culture, like it, buy into it, and might even consider becoming an employee
  6. Provides a great way to discover and observe potential employees
  7. Might unleash hidden talents in your current employees
  8. Customers will love the efficiency and quality of an organized and talented production team
  9. Customer satisfaction is easier to achieve
  10. Customers want “their lead carpenter” to return for their next project
  11. The business makes more money
  12. The owner and management staff can concentrate their efforts on other pressing issues or new business opportunities



Topics: Success Strategies, Team Building, Lead Carpenter System, Customer Relations, Keeping More Money, Creating Referrals

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter? Probably Not!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, May 09,2013 @ 11:47 AM

Is He Or She Really A Lead Carpenter?  Probably Not!

What is a lead carpenter


I was involved in the creation of the NARI Certified Lead Carpenter Program.  NARI did a great job putting that program together.   When the certification was created it included a definition for what a lead carpenter really is.  Unfortunately even though experts on the system helped define for our industry what a lead carpenter is, many remodelers and construction companies have ignored that definition and have decided to create their own definitions.   Without endorsing and enforcing a common definition across our industry every carpenter can have the title of lead carpenter.  This waters down the title and leads to confusion for employees, employers and, more importantly, consumers.  Also, I don't think it’s fair to true lead carpenters, those who have achieved the skills and experience to be a true lead carpenter, if we allow impostors to receive and use the title.


NARI Definition of Certified Lead Carpenter

Certified Lead Carpenter“A lead carpenter is involved in tasks and has responsibilities beyond the technical production aspects of a project. He/she is responsible for customer contact and communication, supervision of subcontractors and employees, managing the job site, scheduling, and safety issues. The success of a remodeling project during the production stage is the primary responsibility of the lead carpenter.”


NARI’s Certified Lead Carpenter Training Program lists the following seven basic responsibilities for a Lead Carpenter:

  1. Lead Carpenter dutiesCustomer Satisfaction
  2. Material Take-offs, and Orders
  3. Job Site Supervision, Protection, Cleanliness, and Safety
  4. Carpentry Labor
  5. Supervision and Scheduling of Subcontractors
  6. Building Code Inspections
  7. Project Paperwork


Job Description for a Lead Carpenter

An Overview of the Lead Carpenter System


Are you misleading your carpenters and your customers?

Just because your carpenter is the most experienced at the job site, and or is the highest paid employee at the job site, those characteristics don't make him or her a lead carpenter and does not justify giving him/her the lead carpenter title.  Plus, unless your business setup and systems have been specifically designed to support a lead carpenter system, how could a true lead carpenter actually perform their job duties?  

Project estimate for lead carpenterFor example, if your business can't or won't share the job estimate and pricing with a lead carpenter, how could he or she manage a project to meet the budget?  If the project specifications are inadequate, and or the business doesn't have a sales to production handoff process, the lead carpenter will need to be micro managed and or will need to constantly interact with the sales person who sold the job to know what to do and what to do next.  


If you hire a real lead Carpenter will he stay?

Lead Carpenter compensationI am also aware of true lead carpenters who were hired as lead carpenters only to find out that they couldn't act as lead carpenters at the business that hired them because of the reasons shared above.  When they find these conditions at their new job they quickly realize their opportunities for career and compensation growth are dramatically compromised.   So many left for a different business and opportunity where they could use their skills and continue to advance their careers.

With the economy showing signs of improvement, and as the volume and pace of remodeling and construction increase, there will be high demand for the skills and responsibilities a true lead carpenter can bring to the job site.  Businesses without true lead carpenters in the field will have much higher overheads than those that do.  In a competitive marketplace businesses using a real lead carpenter system with true lead carpenters will definitely have a competitive and a profitability advantage.


When to Implement The Lead Carpenter System?

 The Benefits of Implementing a Lead Carpenter System(2 Videos)


Is he a lead carpenter


So, is he or she really a lead carpenter? 

Does your business really have a Lead Carpenter System?


Topics: Careers in Construction, Recruting, Lead Carpenter System, Customer Relations, Business Planning

In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: Godfather Of Remodeling To Many

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Feb 20,2013 @ 05:19 PM

In Remembrance of Walt Stoeppelwerth: The Godfather Of Remodeling To Many

Walt Stoeppelwerth


On February 18th, 2013 Walt Stoeppelwerth passed away.  Walt was the President of HomeTech Inc in Bethesda, MD for over thirty years.  I have always been an admirer of Walt and all he did for me as well as our industry. Walt Stoeppelwerth's obituary only offers a small piece of what he did in his lifetime. 

During my early years as a remodeler I observed that Walt made many predictions about the future of the remodeling industry.  Those predictions included trends, challenges, shifts, business systems and methods of production.   Many of his predictions came true.  For a whole variety of reasons, other predictions may have been challenged by a lack of continuous development or adequate leadership within the industry.  Regardless, Walt kept beating his drum about what our industry needed to keep top of mind.  Until that is, he could no longer fend off the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.


Walt help shape the Remodeling Industry

What I observed to be unique about Walt was that he not only predicted the future, he also participated in making it happen.  I suggest he was a visionary with a unique ability to identify, fully understand and solve existing as well as future challenges within the industry.  He would share his observations, speculate on the likely consequences if the challenges were not addressed, and suggest or predict the solutions he felt would address the challenges.   His brilliance was his ability to then create and provide the required solutions, and, through his consulting, direct others who wanted to participate in making the evolution happen.  

The Godfather Of Remodeling Although some feel such tactics might be self-serving, I disagree.  It is my opinion that Walt was a truly caring person who loved and gave his best to the industry, always willing to help people.  I think of him as a man who did and gave great things to the industry and the people he loved, and he found a way to be well paid while doing so.  By being well paid, he could afford to keep doing what he did and, perhaps more important, he kept getting better at it!  A good example for all of us to consider for our own businesses.

Walt was always up for a good debate about industry topics. 

Fortunate for me, I got to have many of those debates with Walt.  His purpose was never to prove anyone wrong or demonstrate his authority and knowledge.  Rather I observed his purpose was to always gain additional understanding and insight from others, so he could then use what he learned to complement what he knew and in turn offer better solutions to those he worked with.  I always left those debates with more knowledge and a greater understanding of each topic we explored.  In many ways he was a mentor to me.  I was and am still today honored to have taken his spot as a columnist for Remodeling magazine.

Carrying on Walt's example

The Godfather Of Remodeling Walt Stoeppelwerth


From what I observed, Walt lived the value of continuous improvement.  His business model was not reactive to the perceived and often misguided needs expressed by remodelers and industry partners, but rather proactive in creating and providing the solutions and the guidance remodelers and industry partners really needed to improve and foster true success.

In summary, Walt had the intimate knowledge, insight, creativity, resources, contacts, relationships and solutions to change the industry and cause tremendous social benefit at the same time. 

When people feel better about themselves and their businesses, they listen and seek for more of what helped them. Additionally, many then share what they have and know with others with the hopes that they too will benefit.  Walt was a master at setting that example and making it happen for so many remodelers.

I am grateful for his example and for all I learned from Walt.   He may have left our industry, but he will never be forgotten.  I know many of you feel the same way.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories about Walt and what he did for you and your business.  I’m sure his family will be grateful to know.


Thanks Walt.


Topics: Remodeler Education, Future of the Remodeling Industry, Careers in Construction, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching, Opinions from Contractors, Leadership

Rebuilding Your Construction Business On Purpose in 2013

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jan 27,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Rebuilding Your Construction Business On Purpose in 2013

Remodeler business plan


Most remodeling and construction business owners didn’t start with a plan for where their business would end up; they just ended up where their businesses took them.   As they did business the employees and subs who worked for them, the clients who bought from them and the project types they bought are often the factors that eventually defined the business and therefore defined who their target customer type and job types are today.  If you’re not happy with where your business ended up, and you had to downsize during the recession, your current position might just provide an opportunity to rethink how you move forward before the economy and your business picks up.  Here’s a path to consider if you want a different business going forward.  Reflect back on and take advantage of lessons learned in the past as you map out your plan.

First establish goals for your business.  

Make sure the goals support both your professional and personal ambitions.   If you want to work to live, rather than live to work, now is your opportunity to make the change happen.

Contractor business planYour goals must be measurable

Next, establish metrics by which you will measure whether your business is on the right track and is achieving those goals.   In your metrics include ways to measure things like financial health, quality of service, quality of work, company culture, when you will be ready for the next stage of growth and the related employee growth or advancement that needs to be achieved. 

Decide who you will need for employees

Remodeling business org chart


Now that you have a clear idea of your goals and have defined objective ways to measure whether you’re achieving them or not, you can develop organizational charts for each stage of growth as well as job descriptions and candidate profiles for the people you will need to hire and advance.   Rather than let who you hire define your business and the job descriptions for those people, you will this time be able to proactively define, seek out and better qualify the right employees for each job position you will need to fill as the business grows. 



Here are a few examples. 

If you want to use a lead carpenter system, hire field staff with both trade and management skills.  If you can’t find real lead carpenters with management skills (because in reality very few exist) find good carpenters with the cognitive abilities and desire to learn and use those skills.  Then, train them yourself or find someone else to properly train them.  Your lead carpenter job description will help define the training you will need to provide.   If you want managers who will lead employees rather than supervise them, make sure you include that consideration in the employee profiles you will use to complement your job descriptions and hiring decisions. 


Construction company business planPutting the pieces together

If you hire the wrong managers you will be compromising your ability to hire and keep the right employees to do the work.   If you have to compromise on who you hire to do the work they will not be able to live up to your metrics or you will have to lower the standards by which you measure their performance.   If you drop the bar on your metrics you will either have to accept that you will never achieve your business and personal goals, or you will have to drop the bar on those too.

One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things but expect different results.  If you want 2013 to be the year you changed the direction and performance of your business, you would probably be insane not to consider the path described above.


Thinking about figuring all this out on your own? 

If you and your business have the ability, the time and the money to learn all this stuff on your own check out this list of Five Great Books for Remodeling Business Owners.


Rather work one-on-one with a coach to help you?

Contact Shawn to find out how he helps remodelers and other construction related businesses all over the country achieve the business and personal results they desire.  If you're not earning and keeping enough money for your retirement yet he can help you change things.


Topics: Starting a Business, Hiring and Firing, Success Strategies, Worker Training, Differentiating your Business, Lead Carpenter System, Business Planning, Leadership, Business Considerations

Considerations For Putting The Right Employee On The Right Job

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 24,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Interesting Considerations For Putting The Right Employee On The Right Job

Choosing the right lead carpenter



Just like business owners, all employees have their own strengths and weaknesses.  The key to efficiency and making money is recognizing these differences and putting employees in job positions and on tasks that they can be successful at.   One consideration is how employees learn.   As a business owner I came to discover that some employees are sequential learners while others are global learners.  How they learned new information and used it helped me decide who I should hire or not and ultimately what job positions and activities they should be assigned to.


Sequential Learners

Sequential LearnerSequential learners learn best when information is presented to them in logical step by step order.   By presenting information to them in the order tasks should be completed, they can see how one step prepares for the next and or how subsequent steps are dependent on the previous step.   These employees are typically successful at repetitive activities, even activities that require a high level of skill.  Examples could include install crown moldings or estimating projects that can be done using a unit cost method.  However sequential learners might not make for good lead carpenters at a business where every project is different and or projects are highly detailed.   A sequential learner lead carpenter may be challenged if the business does not provide adequate project specifications and facilitated planning opportunities before the project begins.  Also, a sequential learner might not have success selling Design/Build projects to prospects who are global learners.


Global Learners

Global learnerOn the other hand global learners can take in random bits of information about a project or task and can quickly connect the dots between that information to assess a situation or assemble a solution on their own by quickly understanding the connections between those bits of information.   These employees can be very successful at job positions like handyman repairs, troubleshooting roof leaks and or gathering information from Design/Build clients who know why they want to do a project but might not know yet how to get started or what needs to be considered.   Also consider these employees might quickly become bored with repetitive activities or duties.


Why care?

It is important to recognize that every successful remodeling business needs employees with complementary skills.  A team dominated by one or the other of these learning types would definitely run into challenges.   Learning how employees and recruiting candidates learn and process information can help you make better hiring decisions and help promote employee retention.  Having the right employees in the right job positions can also help free the business owner up from “in the trenches” involvement in the business so they can concentrate on big picture and high value opportunities.


Example of why you might need both learning types on staff and in the right positions

Right employee for the jobInstalling windows these days requires building science knowledge and an understanding of installation options regarding the methods and products that can be used.   A lead carpenter who is a global learner can be real good at understanding the science considerations and specifying appropriate installation details.   With those project specific details in hand a sequential learner carpenter can then be instructed by that lead carpenter, right at the jobsite, on how to install all the windows.   While the carpenter installs the windows the lead carpenter can be making the materials list for the next phase of the job so the materials will be ready for the carpenter when the carpenter is done installing the windows.  Unlike a production manager driven production system, because a lead carpenter driven system is being used, the global learner who specified the installation method is at the job site to oversee and if needed trouble shoot the efforts of the carpenter.  With a production manager driven system, after being instructed, the sequential learner carpenter might be on his own without anyone overseeing his or her activities to be sure the windows are being installed correctly. 


Right or wrong?

If you’re frustrated or disappointed with your current employees’ and or your production system’s performance you might have the wrong employees.  On the other hand you might have the right employees assigned to the wrong job duties.   Considering how they learn and process information might be the insight you need to get them and your business on the right track.  Let me know if I can help!

Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Business Considerations

Afraid To Hire Employees For Fear Of Running Out Of Work For Them?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Mar 29,2012 @ 11:02 AM

I’m Afraid To Hire Production Employees For Fear I Would Run Out Of Work For Them

Help wanted remodelersWhile at JLC LIVE last week in Providence RI Many remodelers shared with me that they were seeing positive signs like increased leads and project budgets, and are now booking more work recently than they have experienced in the last several years.   Having scaled back their staffing due to the recession they expressed concern about hiring production employees to meet the demand only to have to let them go if the demand softens.   They were looking for solutions for their businesses that help keep good employees working full time.  There are no guaranteed solutions.  However with some planning and committing to some changes about how you do business, you can make it happen.   Here is some of the advice I offered these attendees:


Such a problem to have!

It’s a good problem to have, provided you can find a solution.  Unfortunately there is not a single silver bullet solution. Success with this challenge requires the remodeler look at and adjust several areas of his/her business.

Hiring a Lead CarpenterOne thing I recommend is finding a real lead carpenter who can actually manage the job onsite with little interaction with the business owner after a proper hand-off of the project.   For this to be successful the remodeler must look at what information needs to be collected and prepared before the hand-off from sales to production, conduct a successful hand-off, and actually empower and allow the lead carpenter to be a lead carpenter. 

Unfortunately many remodelers are challenged by this because in the past the hand-off after the sale involved the owner handing off the project to himself; so the business never developed processes and project information packages adequate enough to successfully delegate to someone else.


Can you go it alone, or will you need help?

Control Freak remodelersThis change in business style is understandably difficult for someone who has in the past been in total control of everything in their business and has relied on micromanagement to get things done.  Making the change requires new business practices and the changes can be fast-tracked with some mentoring/coaching to help the remodeler get through the structural and emotional adjustments required.

The main reason I suggest adopting the lead carpenter system and hiring a lead carpenter as a major part of the solution to this challenge is because if successfully implemented, the system allows the business owner the time and ability to concentrate on doing more marketing and selling, thus making sure there is adequate work coming in to keep the new hire(s) productive and continually employed.   


Coach for remodelers and design builders


If you are looking for help with this or similiar challenges contact Shawn about his Consulting, Coaching and Mentoring Services to discuss how he can help.




Topics: Hiring and Firing, Production Considerations, Lead Carpenter System, Mentoring/Coaching

When to Implement The Lead Carpenter System?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Mar 19,2012 @ 05:00 AM

When to Implement The Lead Carpenter System?

When to Implement The Lead Carpenter SystemMany contractors have asked me what volume of sales they should achieve before they implement the Lead Carpenter System. Like many other business decisions, it depends upon the reason you want to do it, but it also depends upon the company and the current condition of that company’s business systems. Without that information, answering the question based on assumptions could lead to disaster. Unless you and your company are properly prepared, failure of the Lead Carpenter System might be blamed on the system itself, rather than the business systems that are required to support it.  The key is to adjust your business systems to support a true Lead Carpenter System, not adjust the lead Carpenter System to work within your existing business systems.

Best Time to Implement

Overall, my best answer is to implement when you start your company.  Initiating the company using the Lead Carpenter System allows the system to grow with the company, and when done well, the company grows because of the system.

Unfortunately, particularly for many of you who might be reading this article, this is not an option because you have already been in business for some time.  If this is the case, consider the following before you implement

Remodeler Business SystemsGet Your Support Systems Ready

Some systems may not yet exist within the business and may become new requirements to successfully support implementing the system.  In reactive mode, it is difficult to find the time to create and implement the changes.

Think Profit Before Volume!

I suggest you implement the system to improve the efficiency and profitability at your current volume, regardless of what it is, before you plan to grow.

When Will It Pay Off In Personal And Financial Benefits?

Use of the “already tested” system at my company increased our 1996 sales volume of $980,000 with a total of 8 office and field employees to a 2000 sales volume of $1,700,000 with still only 8 employees. During this time net profit margins remained the same 10% plus each year.

Never Stop Implementing

Improving a lead carpenter system


Implementation of the system is an ongoing effort. Even if your system is the best you have observed in the industry, there is always room and the need for improvement.



For more information about implementing a Lead Carpenter System see:

When to Implement the Lead carpenter System (full article)

Checklist For Implementing The Lead Carpenter System


Topics: Lead Carpenter System, Business Considerations