General contractors are known for many things: their know-how, their efficiency (or in some cases, their inefficiency), the versatility of their skill-set, and their ability to negotiate between a client and team of workers. Rarely are contractors known, however, for their hit television show. However, Chip Gaines of Waco, TX is an exception to this rule. Chip and his wife, Joanna Gaines, comprise the extremely well-liked duo of HGTV’s popular television show, “Fixer Upper.” This hands-on man utilized his numerous interests and teamed up with his wife to successfully pursue some of their own dreams, all while making dream homes possible for their clients. Read on to learn how you can apply some practices of this household name to your own contracting business!
Chip Gaines Biography:
Originally from the Dallas area, Chip graduated from Baylor University where he earned a degree in business with a concentration in marketing—he actually flipped his first home while still a college student. After college, Chip used his degree to run a couple of small businesses, a laundry business and a landscaping business. During this time, he also continued to hone his skills as a contractor and real estate agent. He married Joanna in 2003, and they immediately used their combined skills to renovate their first home, which was a fixer upper. Joanna’s interest in interior design contributed to her opening a boutique called Magnolia Market, which extends today into the couple’s joint companies: Magnolia Reality and Magnolia Homes. After several years of flipping homes together in Waco, HGTV approached the Gaines’ about having their own show; “Fixer Upper,” is a combination of real estate, renovation and design on the client’s budget. Chip and Joanna also have a 100-year-old farmhouse (complete with acreage and animals) which they have spent a great deal of time restoring and giving their signature style. They often invite clients into their home so that they can get a feel for the kind of work Chip and Joanna do and indicate what elements they like or don’t like. The Gaines’ also have four children together.
What can You Learn from Chip’s Success Story?
While most contractors aren’t going to end up with their own television show, there are several attributes of the way Chip runs his multiple businesses which have contributed to his overall success. These are attributes that can be helpful in any business.
- Knowing how to delegate and rely on other people’s strengths. Chip relies on his wife Joanna for her overall vision on what the final result of a project should look like. He also relies on a large crew of other carpenters, landscapers, electricians, etc., to help and advise him. Sure, Chip has many of these skills, himself, but he doesn’t feel the need to do it all by himself. For any project, it’s better time management, and produces a better end result, when we can trust our team members’ skills and not hesitate to delegate.
- Authenticity. One of the things that most people seem to love about “Fixer Upper” is the authenticity of this couple. Their love for each other, their family, even their Christian faith, are all easily apparent without seeming contrived. Furthermore, their completed homes also speak to the unique and clearly defined vision that their clients already know to expect. This doesn’t mean that you, as a contractor, need to share your entire life with clients. However, it is important to take away that, the more people you work with, the more you establish your own reputation. When clients look into hiring you, they will be more likely to do so if they find you to be an honest, authentic personality with a reliable standard.
- Be versatile. Chip knows how to build houses, but he also knows about real estate and business. He has to find the kind of house that could potentially suit clients’ needs, negotiate prices, hire team members whom he can rely on and work with a very complex budget. He’s also a skilled landscaper, which gives all of the projects completed on “Fixer Upper” a unique curbside appeal. In cultivating a versatile skill set, a mixture of education and experience make for the best type of resume.
- Have respect for the client. A little kindness and courtesy go a long way. Before you even get started with a client’s project, make sure you know exactly what they want and don’t want. If a client is less than kind to you, remember that it’s not their job to be kind, but it is part of your job. Finally, try to be respectful of the budget they describe when starting a project. There will almost always be unexpected costs that come up, but if you respect those guidelines as much as possible, and be respectful and authentic when you can’t, it will help build your overall reputation.
Ultimately, the qualities that make Chip Gaines a well-liked and sought after contractor are his ability to work as part of a team, his authenticity, his wide-skill set and his respect for the client. Though most contractors won’t (and don’t’ aspire to) become famous, these same attributes can help any worker in the field who is looking to create a solid reputation and build a successful business.
-Written by Kathryn Gustafson
Chip and Joanna Gaines, HGTV and Fixer Upper are not affiliated in any way, including through any business owned by them, with Wholesale Contractor Supply and do not in any way endorse the products, vendors and/or services offered through Wholesale Contractor Supply.