In this series, ActionCOACH Mary Ann Hauser (MAH) and team virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. And be sure to look at special offers from these businesses – we can all use a little extra help right now!
BKN: Coach Beverly Kiser-Nutt
RT: Rick Tozier, owner of Sonoma Building Company
BKN: What do you do, and for long have you been doing it?
RT: I left the high-tech manufacturing industry in 2006 to start a building and remodeling company, 2 years before the economic downturn in 2008. In 2008, I was still new to the industry, building my brand, and marketing my product, and it was a touch recovery. It took until 2011 or 2012 to really get back on solid ground. We have done consistent remodeling projects and built new homes for the past 14 years. Check out some our projects here: http://sonomabuilding.com/
BKN: Who is your best customer?
RT: People who know what they want, but need help getting there. Someone who wants high quality service and is willing to pay to have the best builder on their project. It is a collaborative effort – so it is important that we are able to work well together.
BKN: What has been the biggest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
RT: We were in an interesting period in the business cycle when COVID-19 hit. We were working on a reset of the business with two homes completed and 2 large remodeling projects in progress. Almost all new business went on hold - two large projects and a number of smaller ones. It was a huge revenue hit overnight and so much uncertainty.
BKN: What are 1 or 2 actions you've taken because of pandemic?
RT: We actively marketed to any and all work available – even smaller jobs to keep employees gainfully employed - as opposed to sticking to our business model. We pursued work out of our market area. It is working and it sustained us until the market changed.
BKN: What is the biggest learning you’ve had since you've been a business owner?
RT: Growth is not always good, and managing growth slowly and purposefully is key. Sometimes you have to say no. Also, it is usually feast or famine in construction - so we have to be prepared for that. It is most important to be adaptable with long range plans. No one planned the pandemic. You have to be flexible. The mindset is to make plans, but you must be able to adjust and shift swiftly. Our biggest challenge is always the same – finding and retaining good people.
BKN: What is most inspiring to you today?
RT: On a personal level, my faith. We have been provided for even when things were at their worst – sometimes just enough. Some have lost their business, and that has been heartbreaking. We had dinner at a local restaurant and the owner was doing it all - dishes, floors, cooking, greeting – everything. The absolute courage it takes to keep going – that is inspiring to me.
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