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Hot Topics: Key Takeaways from SEN Executive Business School

“I definitely recommend the Business School. Instead of working in your business, you can really make a difference working on it.”

Howland Boyer, Cabinet Factory Outlet, Omaha, NE

Attendees of the SEN Executive Business School had so many great things to say about what they learned last week. We are especially grateful to all of you who attended the July 12–15 program in Chicago with us. Thank you for making it such an auspicious return after the pandemic forced all SEN events to be virtual events last year, and for all the kind words you had to say about the school. What follows are the key collective takeaways from this special SEN learning experience.

What mattered to the attendees

The number one thing attendees in Chicago were focused on was the dissection of their company finances during our several classes covering various aspects of financial management.

“We have so much to keep working on to better our business,” stated one attendee.

SEN was hearing that attendees are going to take a studied look at their businesses once they returned home, to see what their numbers really look like, and where they would go from here to improve their operations. The big theme of the week was indeed working on your business.

In the Benchmarks for Big Business Decisions learning module, the topics of when to expand a showroom, when to buy a building for your business (or not), and when/if to downsize operations were covered.

Vince Hodshire of Exclusive Cabinet Agents recommends SEN’s Business School “100%.”

“It’s been very educational for me,” said Vince. “It’s a reminder of all my years, going back to being purposeful about your approach to business, and it’s been very industry-specific. It’s not only about how to run a good business, but how to run a good kitchen and bath or remodeling business. There’s literally no education of this type—and this specific—in the industry that I am aware of. This has been great!”

SEN has seen members return over the years. People like Howland Boyer of Cabinet Factory Outlet from Omaha, Nebraska. Howland returned for the second time because he felt that his business was in a place where he needed to continue to “learn and grow,” so he decided to take advantage of the SEN Executive Business School last week.

For Patrick and Katie Finn from Patrick A Finn Custom Homes and Remodeling in Palatine, Illinois, last week was their first time attending the SEN Executive Business School. They decided to join us in Chicago, Katie said, after attending one of our budgeting seminars two years ago.

“It’s amazing,” said Patrick. “We learned a lot about financials, we learned a lot about benchmarking. I learned a lot of formulas we can take back and apply to our books, and see where we rank compared with the industry averages.”

Amy Porter, Training Director for Bridgewood Cabinetry, and who came in from Bangor, Maine, shared this:

“One of the things that I have experience traveling from business to business, is that a lot of owners don’t have the kind of skills or background needed to run a successful business. SEN offers of all the tools that you’ll need to dive in deep with your business and look at numbers, and figure out what you need to change, and what’s working for you.”

The SEN Executive Business School also provided non-members with valuable networking opportunities.

During breaks and evening social events, such as receptions at the Wood-Mode and The Galley showrooms in theMART, non-members were able to mix with current SEN members, sharing the stories of their businesses — their successes and challenges — with one another.

In tune with our networking opportunities, Vince Hodshire sent in some kind words at the end of the week:

“THANK YOU to the SEN team for putting on such a great educational and networking opportunity. It has been years since I had experienced the quality and depth of the programs offered, and if this program was any indication, the content and presentation have only gotten better. Thank You to Tom and CWP for the ongoing sponsorship and Bridgewood for their participation too, helping make it more affordable for more dealerships to attend financially.

My hats off to ALL the dealers and participants for taking time from your busy businesses to attend with an eye towards improvement. It was downright impressive and refreshing to see the participation and quest for knowledge.”

What was covered at SEN Executive Business School

This SEN Executive Business School covered kitchen and bath business management A to Z. During one financial management class, attendees learned how to apply a 3-year budgeting regimen to create a blueprint for the sustained success of their firm. Developing the correct price formula for their operations — producing the necessary gross profit margin which “finances” an owner’s market-rate salary, overhead, and desired net profit percentage — is the single, most important element of this blueprint. Without the right formula, it is impossible to develop your business into an engine for wealth.

They learned how DISC personality tests work, why they matter to a business, and why testing their entire team is worth the time and cost. That’s because it improves communication within a team that ultimately leads to you widening your revenue streams.

The Personal Management class taught attendees how to use motivators as driving forces to increase productivity.

The Marketing class discussed how to leverage analytics to make data-driven marketing decisions. It included the basics of digital marketing, paid versus organic search, blogging fundamentals, and how to engage on social media to grow your brand.

In the class, “Your Key to Smart Marketing Decisions,” attendees learned how to invest in a CRM, track lead sources and make financial investments based on them, and how to hit the right numbers when calculating their marketing ROI.

The SEN 4-Day Business School concluded with learning modules covering the Good-Better-Best (GBB) sales process and the DesignAlign Selling System Technology that has automated this proven methodology. Until companies implement such a replicable sales process for all their designers to leverage, attendees learned they would not realize their full income and profitability growth potential. More on DesignAlign and its GBB interactive project budgeting process will be discussed in next week’s communiqué.

The final word

Referring back to Howland Boyer’s earlier comment, Tom Price, Director of Sales for Custom Wood Products, shared his final thoughts the day after the Chicago school came to a close:

“We all tend to spend too much time working “in” our business and not enough time working “on” our business. We all want to work smarter and not harder to be effective at work and get things done. The question for me was: “What does working smarter look like? Well, the answers came fast and furious this week in Chicago. Understanding financial, business management, and marketing fundamentals are critical to any organization. Admittedly, I am out of my comfort zone especially in regard to the financials. This program provides the tools to achieve your professional goals no matter which part of this industry you belong to. I know of no other organization delivering industry-specific content of this nature. I could not endorse this program more and will look forward to personally promoting SEN events in the future.”

The enthusiasm for the 4-Day Executive Business School at theMart in Chicago was outstanding. The industry-specific knowledge gained and the phenomenal connections developed made it a valuable experience for SEN members and non-members alike.

If you missed this excellent opportunity, SEN will offer this premier Business School again for a limited number of attendees! Save the date and register early for November 8–11, 2021 at the same fantastic Chicago location.

—Skyler Ille, SEN Design Group