Over the past few months, I’ve had many discussions with builders and remodelers about marketing — specifically marketing your skills against your competition. These conversations never happen without some mention of the economy; and they almost always start with, “I’ve been in business 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.” That is a powerful statement.
It’s not headline news that the economy isn’t where it used to be in 2005. Every builder and remodeler is aware of this notion, but to hear, “This is the worst I’ve seen it in 30 years — after everything I’ve seen in 30 years,” — proves to me what worked in the past will not work in 2011. Times have changed, which means your business practices must as well. Old habits die hard, and changing how you do business is often easier said than done.
In Jay Grant’s column (page 8), he writes about how hard it is to close sales because his clients are much more focused on saving money. “They need more work, attention, counseling and cajoling than what used to be typical for a builder/remodeler,” he writes. Change isn’t easy — and a change of business practices that have been set in stone for 30 years must be even harder.
Many of us have heard the quote, “Nothing is worth anything unless risk is involved.” Granted your risks may be higher than before, but it’s better to adapt and overcome now because who knows when or if we will get back to the heydays of 2005.
David Werschay, CEO and owner, Werschay Homes, St. Cloud, Minn., the builder covered in this month’s cover story (page 14), chose to build a model home to showcase his business and talents. Though this isn’t a new concept, building a model home in a tough economy is a risky move. Werschay wasn’t building this house with a client backing it, but he calculated the risks and in hindsight it helped him generate new jobs because of this house. He took a risk and it paid off.
Now is the time to take risks. The risks you take may vary from your competitor, but no one ever conquered hard times by remaining complacent and doing things the way they’ve always done them. You may take a note from Werschay and build a model home that showcases your talents, or maybe you’ll take a less aggressive route to put your business in front of more eyes and join a social media network such as Facebook or Twitter. No matter what the risk, it’s clear that doing business in 2011 requires the courage and gumption to explore new avenues for discovering new business.
Be creative and experimental. Find some balance between doing business the old way with the new way. Most importantly, be patient; changing your business practices will not happen with immediate results. Taking a risk and benefiting from that action will take some time, but the end result can give you a leg up on your competitor.
What has your company done to change your business practices? Did these changes result in a positive or negative result? I’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org, 920-563-1675 or on Twitter @MaureenAlley.