Hi, Jim Coshow here from Dunn Lumber. Welcome to the Dunn Solutions podcast, where we’re committed to providing cutting-edge industry knowledge for the building contractor and trade professional. 

Today we’ll hear from Judith Miller of J. Miller and Company. Judith is a finance guru—she formed J. Miller and Company 30 years ago, providing bookkeeping and financial services to the remodeling industry. Judith's services allow remodeling companies to market, sell, estimate, budget, produce, control overhead, and more—all in the name of building a successful, sustainable company that will stand the test of time.

In addition to providing these services to the industry through her company, she’s taught job costing and computerized estimating, written a manual that’s helped establish job-cost accounting systems to remodelers around the country, and has contributed to Remodelers Advantage magazine and Remodeling Magazine. Through decades of experience, Judith has learned—and honed—key strategies that have helped her own company and career.

Click the play button above to listen to Judith on the Dunn Solutions podcast.

judith miller j miller and company

Here are my top-five takeaways from Judith's strategy and findings for remodeling business sustainability:

1. There’s a difference between success and corporate sustainability

Success is the achievement of a short-term objective. When it comes to business sustainability, you need to think long-term—you should be able to maintain a healthy business without exhausting current resources or compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In short, corporate sustainability represents resiliency.

2. There are five stages of growth, no matter what you make—or how

In the beginning, the owner does it all. Then the owner slowly starts to delegate. Eventually, the owner delegates everything but sales. Then they delegate everything. Finally, the owner is no longer doing everything—they’re focused solely on strategy. To build a system that works for you, build it to match your stage.

3. If you have a problem, look upstream

Articulate the problem, then look upstream—this is the source. Oftentimes, slippage is a result of bad sales processes, poor estimating, labor inefficiencies, or a lack of change-order control. Successful companies (companies who are making short-term wins) can become sustainable.

4. There are three primary gears to a healthy company: customer satisfaction, net profit, and sustainability

Each must be measurable, process-driven, and have a clear line of sight upstream.

  • When it comes to customer satisfaction, consistency is a big one. Happy customers mean good referrals and good gross profit.
  • Net profit reflects the company’s ability to respond to adversity, share with the community, increase employee happiness, and contribute to retirement savings. Net profit also leads to increased equity.
  • A sustainable company produces a sense of order, predictability, and protection; increased employee engagement; a healthier community; and in turn, greater efficiencies throughout.

5. The silver bullet to a sustainable business model is you

You are the simple and seemingly magical solution to the complicated problem of developing a sustainable remodeling company. If you take good care of your employees (who will in turn take good care of your clients), guard your net profit, and become an effective leader, a sustainable business model awaits.

j miller and company dunn lumber event

The Master Builders Association Remodelers Council is a community of building and remodeling contractors who are interested in learning the latest tools of the trade, and value networking with fellow remodelers, vendors, and associate members. For more information on joining the Remodelers Council and attending future educational events, feel free to email me at jimc@dunnlumber.com.

To see Judith's whole presentation, click below. 

download here