Iris Harrell of Harrell Remodeling wrote one of three forewords for Contractors: Doing it Right Not Just Getting it Done. Here is her’s . . . Enjoy!
Knowing the importance of the hard-to-define culture of our company has helped us not only survive, but thrive these last twenty five years. I’ve often wondered why so few books have been written about culture, as in my opinion, it is the key to business success.
Business culture is especially critical in the world of residential remodeling. Our typical client is often home, watching every move of our employees. Working in a “fish bowl” environment requires the highest level of professional performance on a consistent basis. This may help explain the less-than-stellar regard that is given to our industry at large, as very few people in the construction world can take that kind of pressure.
Starting out with absolutely no business training, I had to learn the technical aspects as well as the business aspects of becoming a remodeler. Having been a former high school teacher and leader of a 5 piece traveling band, I had an established knowledge and framework of how to set goals, motivate drummers and students and influence the behavior of others. Performing music gigs for 5 years straight night after night, town after town, also helped me learn how to perform and deliver, come what may. (If I never enter a bar again, much less play for happy hour,
I will not feel deprived. I have done my “time”.) Through these life experiences, I learned invaluable lessons about group communication and cooperation, ethical leadership, living a principled life and earning an “honest living.” These are values that we constantly and consistently emphasize at Harrell Remodeling.
Along the way, I’ve had amazing people to help me grow our business. My lifetime partner and now wife, Ann Benson, supported me while I learned the trades and how to run a business. Her mother was my first paying client and represented the ideal customer prototype I was looking for–someone who was very particular, had high expectations, and appreciated the small things that make a business great, like frequent, clear communication, a really clean jobsite and a schedule that was adhered to. My mother-in-law’s best friend knew a retired carpenter named Chape, who became a father figure for me and taught me more than I could ever convey. With Chape, I not only learned how to wield a hammer and skill saw, but I realized I had the courage and conviction to start a woman-owned remodeling company and that my previous experiences supported my abilities to do so.
Over the years, my mentors appeared like angels each time I was ready to grow my company to the next level. Early on, I joined a newly-formed business peer group and Harrell Remodeling has continued to be involved in this indispensable support system for 20 of the 25 years we have been in business in California. I could not have been successful without those peer groups or without the people who believed in me and coached me each step of the way. One saving grace I had was that I learned to be “coachable.” This helped me progress more quickly than some of my peers, who felt too vulnerable when challenged with new paradigm shift or when progress required a major change in their way of leadership. If I had been given this book to read and study when I started my remodeling business, I would be even further along in my business development. Allow this book to be your coach while building your business and learn to do it right—not just get it done!