As we hit our stride in 2021, we have taken what we learned in 2020 and are moving forward. When the way we always have done things is no longer available, it forces our hand to look at new and creative ways to move forward. Just like your company, the NTCA has been consistently re-working what we are doing to connect with our members. One prominent word we are focusing on is PIVOT.
“For our industry to benefit the most from these virtual interactions, we need our contractors to show up and engage.”
A key factor in my ability to support the NTCA Five-Star Group is to get contractors to engage. Peer interaction is so vital for growth, and anytime our members join in on the various roundtables, webinars, or group trainings that are offered through the NTCA and/or our NTCA Five-Star Group, we can connect and learn about what their needs are. In the past I have heavily relied on bonding at our in-person events, and cannot wait to get back to them. However, no matter how things unfold in 2021, I believe it is better if we cultivate additional avenues for two-way communication. For our industry to benefit the most from these virtual interactions, we need our contractors to show up and engage.
For example in 2020, we had our very first Foreman/Supervisory Bootcamp. Instead of our traditional education focus on business for this group, our 2020 program pivoted to focus on the most important concepts and skills required for field operations to launch to new levels of effectiveness. Some key components were:
- Leading others
- Planning on purpose
- Getting things done
- Working with others
- Communicating with others
- Scope and change orders
We had an amazing group that expressed gratitude for the many takeaways.
In fact, Stan Platt of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Elite Tile Setters, Inc., had this to say about the training:
Big thanks to NTCA Five-Star for the Supervisory/Foreman Bootcamp & Virtual Partnership Summit sponsored by Daltile and LATICRETE. When I got into installing tile more than 20 years ago I was taught by a true craftsman, however he was not taught methods from the TCNA Handbook. Therefore, I followed in his footsteps, not understanding that I was doing some things wrong. Then, I found the NTCA, received an education and bonded with some great friends who help us grow our business.
Fast-forward some years – now I am at a different phase of my career. I’m not trying to understand methods and standards; I’m trying to motivate, train and manage 40 employees. This is where our Five-Star group steps in and helps. Huge props to LATICRETE’s Ron Nash, who is so willing to help all of us in the industry with his knowledge. I may try to make fun of how much he likes to talk, but I am also the first to listen when he has something to say.
Our company is now starting to implement some concepts Ron suggested. We have also started to understand how much we have been missing in our management skills. Just like when I started installing tile, I did not know what I did not know, and it was hurting my installs. Similarly I have hired managers without proper training (sounds kind of stupid). Ron and the Foreman Bootcamp have pointed us in the right direction to improve the way we are managing.
We are all at different phases in our businesses, and the NTCA Five-Star group has amazed me with how they can help me right now with what I am going through. It all comes down to practicing what we have learned. Big thanks to Amber also for putting these programs together (The pandemic does not slow Amber down!). Looking forward to Coverings in July when we can all get together again in one room.
Using technology to streamline processes
One theme I am personally working on is better utilizing technology to streamline my processes to free up my time from the paperwork and daily management of the NTCA Five-Star Group so that I have more time to focus on the outreach and creative programs. To encourage our group members to do the same, I have been sharing programs, including digital time tracking, and digital estimating/takeoff software. I know that not all programs will be a fit, however, I encourage members to learn and be open minded to the technology tools available, as it may help on a secondary level if not directly. What tools can group members use to simplify processes and free up time? 2020 brought additional safety protocols and paperwork so it would be nice to pivot into technology to recapture some of that time.
Another focus for the NTCA Five-Star Group is to get more exposure in the current digital/virtual world. I am working to create a backlog of project spotlights/case studies. These projects will highlight items like successful projects where qualified labor language was used, technical challenges, etc. These quick interview videos will be shared in many ways such as on the NTCA YouTube channel, giving their companies and our NTCA Five-Star group exposure.
Qualified labor language
I will continue to focus on qualified labor language as the foundation for promotion of the group. With the NTCA joining the BSD SpecLink, we have had continued growth in firms specifying qualified labor language. In fact, from May 2019 to December 2020 we have 113 firms currently using the language in the specifications. As you can see from the infographics this is a steady growth, and it is nationwide.
We have a solid, robust, diverse group of quality contractors, and we know that there are many more out there that embody a culture of integrity, professionalism and craftsmanship. If you are a company that demonstrates a commitment to training, service, quality, safety, and superior job performance I urge you to reach out to us at the association website www.tile-assn.com or https://bit.ly/3axq8hg and learn more to see if our NTCA Five-Star Group is a fit for you.