Local Founder Uses Trades Business Coaching to Unlock Her Strengths as a Leader

Lisa Council standing confidently as a dynamic leader of a successful trades business.

A local founder’s second career finds new life with a dynamic trades business coach.

MEET THE CLIENT:

When Lisa Council (then Lisa Hannon) founded Mrs. Grout in 2014, she had two goals in mind. First, she wanted to change perceptions about what women can do for work by creating the premier grout cleaning service in Central Florida. Second, she wanted to use her background in franchise development to create a business model that could be replicated throughout suburban America.

Original Mrs. Grout logo with the phrase Make Your Tile Look Better Than New!
The original Mrs. Grout logo before Lisa and her team reworked it to better reflect their fun, upbeat energy. (Images used with client permission.)

But Lisa’s experience had not equipped her to build a sustainable business from the ground up. She understood networking and how to deliver a top-notch service. She understood how to apply a system that already existed over and over again, but not how to create a system from scratch. 

The entire business seemed to fall on her shoulders. She wanted to retire eventually, but at the time, she could not even step away for a weekend. 

Lisa knew she was missing something. Owning a business was not supposed to feel like this. Was it?

THE CLIENT'S CHALLENGE:

Lisa was not new to the world of entrepreneurship. Coming from the franchise world, she knew the importance of networking and replicable systems. She was active in her local BNI (Business Network International) chapter and Chamber of Commerce. She had even taken a six-week class on content writing to bring her business into the digital space.

But she knew something was still missing, and she decided to apply to a business makeover television program. 

That’s when Lisa met Renia Carsillo, who was referred to her by a mutual friend who knew Renia had expertise in writing convincing and compelling stories.

Lisa and Renia were looking to impact their community through their businesses. And they’ve grown together over the years to do precisely that.

“I’ve worked with Renia for over five years now. She started out as my web strategy person but has become much more. She is really more of a coach, teacher, and cheerleader for us. I first went to Renia for copywriting, then for website help, but I think her biggest value is as a strategist. If you don’t know where to go from where you’re at or how to take the next step, Renia is the person you need on your team.”
Lisa Council, trades business coaching client with Realign Consulting
Lisa Council
President, Mrs. Grout

Lisa was looking for something more at the same time that Renia had decided to switch directions with her business.

Previously, Renia had worked primarily as a subcontractor for large companies. But she had begun to pull back from those roles to better serve in a way that was more in line with her values.

Renia wanted to expand the impact of local businesses by equipping them with values-driven marketing strategies and sustainable business systems.

As she learned more about Mrs. Grout and what Lisa was trying to accomplish, a path forward became clear. 

Before Lisa sent off her application, Renia told her she had another option: her.

Renia had worked as a coach, mentor, and trainer for other founders since leaving her commercial banking career in 2008.

Because the area Lisa and Renia resided in was heavily saturated with trades businesses, most of Renia’s coaching and financing experience was with trades and construction-based companies. This familiarity made her uniquely qualified to work with Mrs. Grout.

Renia did not plan to become a coach, formally. But sometimes, the work we are meant to do catches us by surprise.

Lisa decided that Renia might have the answers she had been looking for, so she signed on as a coaching client.

There began a relationship that continues to this day.

THE SOLUTION FROM REALIGN CONSULTING:

Together, Renia and Lisa have grown in their understanding of what successful trades business coaching looks like.

For the first couple of years, Lisa and Renia focused primarily on digital marketing for Mrs. Grout.

This was the first time Renia had set up a website for a client (something she doesn’t do today and is grateful to have fantastic developers and designers to refer to). While she had yet to fully realize the power of a copy-first strategy, she understood the impact words have in connecting with customers.

Between website content and social media posts, Mrs. Grout began to see some traction with a growing customer base.

An early 5 star review for Mrs. Grout with a picture of their all-women team.
An early 5-star review for Mrs. Grout paired with a picture of their all-women team.

But Lisa was still exhausted running the business. She had developed a particular way of doing things that worked, but those systems lived only in her head. She was constantly stressed, barely eating, and getting little sleep.

It was time to dig deeper.

The real transformation began when Renia started coaching Lisa on how to become the leader her trades business needed.

While Lisa and Renia focused primarily on digital marketing for the first two years, Renia continued to expand her coaching skillset. She got involved in intensive and extensive leadership development training to provide more value to her clients.

Through Renia’s work with The Referral Institute (now Asentiv), she learned more about personality types. Once she realized the value of using personality tests in the workplace, she earned her certification as a DiSC facilitator.

Renia's assessment work with the Mrs. Grout team led to some enlightening discoveries.

DiSC assessment results for the Mrs. Grout team.
The DiSC Assessment results for the Mrs. Grout team, along with their general strengths.

Renia introduced the idea of personality tests during a Team Communication Workshop.

Lisa was skeptical, to say the least. She saw leadership as a managerial role in which she told her employees what to do and sent them off to do it. She was not convinced that a personality test could play any part in team productivity.

During this workshop, Lisa distinctly remembers Renia pointing out a particular team member and telling them that this person had an innate skill at communicating with everyone else. 

Renia speaking to the Mrs. Grout team about communication.
Renia coaching the Mrs. Grout team during a workshop on communication.

Shortly after this experience, Lisa had her “ah-ha moment.”

That afternoon, Renia sent Lisa and the Mrs. Grout team to a local escape room. She wanted them to apply what they had learned about communication and working together.

At first, they struggled with what to do because everyone had different ideas about how to solve the puzzles. Then, the woman Renia had pointed out earlier stepped in to help them listen to each other and synthesize their ideas.

Together, the Mrs. Grout team broke the record for how fast they won the game.

MG team dressed as prisoners for their escape room fun.
The Mrs. Grout team in costume and holding signs during their escape room fun. They escaped in 25 minutes, beating the previous record by almost twenty minutes!

Lisa began to understand the power of seeing her employees as individuals with unique strengths that could contribute to the team’s success.

Over time, she learned to trust the people she hired and let them be part of creating solutions. She became more selective during the hiring process as she learned what kinds of personalities would be a good fit for the Mrs. Grout team.

And perhaps most importantly, she began training her employees to manage the systems and processes that were a good match for their strengths.

Her load was lighter, and she had more room to breathe.

At the same time, Lisa and Renia began to look critically at other factors a trades business needs to thrive.

Renia and the Mrs. Grout team kicked off their first annual two-day strategic planning retreat.

The Mrs. Grout team gathered around a table for a strategic planning session.
The Mrs. Grout team gathered around a table for a strategic planning session. (Things were pretty cozy before Renia's office expansion!)

Their work during this first intensive helped them document the Mrs. Grout 7-Step Framework. With this cohesive focus, they have been able to streamline their marketing, training, and future planning.

Over the years, Renia has also used her vast experience in SMB financing to help Lisa rework her budget and invest in an office space and new vehicles.

Lisa posed to cut the ribbon at Mrs. Grout's new location grand opening.
Lisa (center) about to cut the ribbon at the grand opening for Mrs. Grout's new location, made possible by working with a trades business coach.

Most recently, Renia has helped the Mrs. Grout team to make a revenue shift. As they’ve grown from a tile cleaning company to shower restoration specialists, they have seen healthier, more sustainable profit margins. 

HOW WE CO-CREATED MRS. GROUT’S SUCCESS:

Mrs. Grout and Realign Consulting have grown up beside each other. Their founders have grown as owners and as people. And their willingness to commit to a not-always-smooth journey has resulted in greater opportunities for them both.

Lisa credits her business coaching experience with Renia as what has brought her and her company success.

She began the journey by looking for a simple checklist of tactics to follow. But instead, she got a transformative lesson on what it means to be a leader.

When they met, Lisa was stuck in the franchise mindset of managing a structured system.

But to create something new, she needed to understand how to manage people—including herself.

Lisa says that the most challenging part of having a business coach has been taking a hard look in the mirror and holding herself accountable.

She learned that, as the founder of Mrs. Grout, everything is her fault—but not in a defeatist way. Lisa now understands that real change for her company has to begin with her.

This realization hit home when Renia and Lisa met for that first strategic planning intensive.

At the time, Lisa worked out of her home and had only one employee. Renia helped her dig deep into what was holding her back from moving forward. There were a lot of tears. But by the end of day two, they had set measurable goals for the next year and a plan for achieving them.

They soon fell into a pattern—Lisa worked with Renia on frameworks for growth and then did the hard work of taking responsiblity for the outcomes.

Lisa was excited to see the results of her work with Renia. She was also motivated by Renia’s constant drive to find sustainable solutions for her clients.

One solution Renia developed has since become a core component of her Strategic Planning Sessions. 

With the framework of the 5 Pillars of Do Better Business, Lisa has been able to go after her goals with an even greater focus.

The 5 Pillars of Do Better Business for Trades Business Coaching
The 5 Pillars of Do Better Business™ - Marketing & Sales, Distribution, Operations, Finances, and Leadership. They rest on the foundation of Habits and are held together through a company's Mission and Vision.

Some years saw incredible growth. Some years focused more on maintaining and perfecting the systems they had put into place.

But through it all, Lisa saw Renia’s commitment to Mrs. Grout’s long-term, sustainable success. Even through seasons that didn’t necessarily provide a big payout for Renia and her team.

THE BUSINESS RESULTS CREATED:

Mrs. Grout began with one visionary woman working out of her home to create a community-based trades business she could retire on. 

Through her coaching work with Renia and Team Realign Consulting, Lisa has…

  • Invested in office space (no more working from her home office!)
  • Grown the Mrs. Grout Fleet from one to four Grout Mobiles,
  • Implemented and trained both a sales team and an office team,
  • Taken a long-awaited, month-long vacation to Europe, leaving her team to run things,
  • Been accepted into Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program for 2023,
  • More than quadrupled the annual profits for the company, and
  • Created a program for training and development that created an average employment length of 2.3 years (in an industry where turnover generally happens every 6-9 months).
Updated Grout Mobile, topped with a scrubbing brush.
One of the updated Grout Mobiles. Lisa had fun designing the fleet with a complete wrap of the Mrs. Grout logo and huge scrubbing brushes on the roof.

Lisa is particularly excited about the financial program because she is all too aware of the work it took to get herself to this point.

Growing up, no one talked about finances. This meant that Lisa’s understanding of business finance was almost nonexistent. Renia helped Lisa break through her mental block to take charge of this critical part of her company.

In a way, Renia and Lisa’s relationship has come full circle.

Lisa hired Renia to help her with an application to help her business. She was looking for a magic wand to make everything make sense.

This time, Lisa applied for a business program that did not promise a quick and easy fix. But after spending years with Renia as her coach, she knows she is up for the challenge.

THE TAKEAWAY FROM MRS. GROUT’s EXPERIENCE:

When Lisa hired Renia, she never would have dreamed of all that has happened in the last several years. 

Looking back as the founder of a now well-established local trades business, Lisa can see the hard work it took to get here.

Ironically, that hard work did not require more long hours at the office and sleepless nights. 

It did require learning to be authentic with her coach and being willing to do the deep, transformative work of becoming a leader.

Sometimes the work was messy, and it wasn’t always linear.

But Lisa has learned that a healthy business needs a healthy leader—in more ways than one.

Mrs. Grout team smiling and laughing with Lisa in the center.
The Mrs. Grout team centered around Lisa, smiling and having fun. Lisa credits her trades business coaching experience with making her into the leader her team needs.

As a trades business coach, Renia has been able to help on two fronts:

  1. As a coach on emotional intelligence, leadership, and relationships, and
  2. As a strategist on finances, marketing, and sustainable business systems.

Lisa credits Renia’s unique blend of expertise with her current and ongoing success. She’s learned that being a local founder is more complicated and fulfilling than she first imagined.

Having Renia in her corner has made her a better human, owner, and boss. And even with the work it took to get here, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Inspired by Mrs. Grout's sustainable business results? Learn more about Do Better Business™ Coaching.

Two local founders who have found success on their terms with Do Better Digital™ Coaching.

What if you could talk to someone who knows what it’s like to follow a vision no one else can see?  

You deserve business strategies tailor-made for your dreams. Let’s work together to develop your path to sustainable growth that gives you space to live your life.

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