How an AI startup used the Scaling Up platform to increase profitsMay 17, 2021
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By Verne Harnish
Bill Wilson—a 26-year Air Force veteran—named his home improvement company Valor Home Services because, he says, “I have always felt like the protector and provider in life.” Even before his military career, he helped his father raise his younger brother and sister while he was still a boy, upon losing their mother.
At his company, he plays that role through his commitment to five-star customer service. After buying out his brother and uncle from the family-owned company in 2015 and expanding it beyond bathroom remodeling to hardwood refinishing and flooring, he grew the six-employee company, founded in 1995, to $630,000 in revenue in 2020.
However, when he read Scaling Up: Rockefeller Habits 2.0 about a year and a half ago, he realized he could do more to unleash the company’s full potential and attended a workshop taught by Scaling Up certified coach Herb Cogliano. In December 2020, he began working with Cogliano one-on-one to go deeper into the methodology at his company.
Today, Valor Home Services is on track for $1 million in annual revenue for 2021 as it works toward its Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of creating 1,000 stress-free home improvement experiences for customers by December 31, 2030.
How did he achieve results so quickly? Here’s how he’s pulling it off.
Hiring with purpose
In the post-pandemic environment, finding talent has been challenging for many employers, as working families cope with hybrid school schedules and some workers earn more on unemployment than the market rate for their skill set. That hasn’t deterred Wilson from hunting for three field workers he needs to grow the company. “I still think there are good people out there,” he says.
To find and evaluate talent, Wilson has been using Topgrading to look for A players. To attract them, he is quick to share what makes Valor Home Services a great place to work—such as the company’s vision for making home improvements stress-free, as highlighted in his One Page Vision Summary. Wilson also cultivates a culture that prizes fairness, structure, and flexibility—powerful draws for many employees. “Most people want to work for an employer that cares, that’s flexible and treats them with respect,” he says.
Once Wilson finds potential hires, he’ll do a quick phone assessment to screen applicants. Then, if they pass muster, he invites them to a Topgrading chronological interview, which lasts one to three hours. Although this is time-consuming, he finds it very worthwhile.
“If you don’t have the right people in the right seats, you’re not going to be able to drive the bus very far—and if you drive it, you’ll be going around in circles,” says Wilson. “If you want to get to a destination, you want to have the right people.”
Delighting customers daily
Working with Cogliano on achieving its BHAG for making home improvement stress-free and other aspects of its One-Page Strategic Plan, Valor Home Services has embraced a Brand Promise of better communication, exceptional quality and budget accountability. “If the home-owner does not think we’ve created a stress-free experience, we’ll pay them $250 and make it right,” he says.
Valor’s logo—a shield with five stars—underlines this. It represents both the company’s “5-star” service and the five components of the company’s “family:” employees, customers, vendors, contractors and all their families.
To keep the team aligned around what the company stands for, Wilson does a five-minute daily huddle with his lead carpenter every morning. “What I’m looking for is if the project is red, green or yellow?” he says. “Are we on time, on budget, or are we not? If we are not, I ask how I can help get us back to green.” He also holds an afternoon huddle every day with the administrative team. Meanwhile, his field crew has a morning and afternoon huddle, as well.
At the same time, Valor Home Services has embraced three core values—which Wilson borrowed from the Air Force: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. “I believe they are all-encompassing,” says Wilson.
To make sure everyone on the team understands and lives the core values, he incorporates them into the recruiting and interviewing process. He might ask, “What does integrity mean to you?” When evaluating the answers to this particular question, he looks for people who understand that they should not only do the right thing when no one is looking but who also don’t have to ask if it’s the right thing. If, for instance, the team has to move a bedroom dresser and sees the homeowner’s wallet on top of it, he believes they should know, without asking him, that they should request that the homeowner move it.
Delivering exceptional results
Wilson keeps execution on track at the company by measuring team members’ contributions according to key performance indicators (KPIs) pegged to their responsibilities. For field workers, for instance, it’s about being “on-time, on-budget and on-schedule.” Each position also has a critical number that aligns with the company’s critical number. Team members report on their progress at the company’s huddles.
Building a smoothly running machine
By getting the right systems in place, Wilson has found that improving the company’s cash flow happens naturally. “That all takes care of itself.”
With business humming, Wilson has had time to complete the One-Page Personal Plan. He’s set goals such as exercising more and deepening his friendships. “As an owner, I find I’m very ‘all-in,’” he says. “The One-Page Personal Plan helps balance work and life with passion.”