The Pride of Lions

“Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?” As I think of this commercial from years ago, I remember the fancy chauffeur-driven cars carrying wealthy men eating five-course meals in the backs of their Roll Royces. As I gazed at their wealth and social status, I wondered, “Who are these people driving around town having a mid-day meal and asking their wealthy friends for fancy mustard?” If you or I pulled up to a fancy car on Main Street America today, the owner would be punching up 911 on the crackberry faster than you can say crackberry!

As you travel from project to project, you most likely drive through a few different upscale neighborhoods that might have a few bottles of Grey Poupon lying around. Driving though these upscale neighborhoods, some of us might start to wonder how a design/build new construction company could tap into the upper end of the remodeling market. Do I need a new fancy truck or car? Would I need to lose 20 lbs. and have my stomach stapled, or would I need a whole new wardrobe and start to look like a banker?

I call this segment of the population the pride of lions, and tapping into the remodeling segment of the pride is not an easy task. Life in the suburbs where manicured lawns and luxury homes dot the landscape is similar to life on the Serengeti plains of Africa. Lions are one of nature’s top predators. They travel in prides which include an elite group of female hunters and one dominating male who is king of the jungle. When a stray lion enters the pride’s territory, it’s the male’s job to drive the intruder away. The stray is unwanted and is an unknown risk to the pride’s blood line, and has nothing to offer the pride.

The upper residential market is similar to the pride of lions of the Serengeti. You can find prides of lions gathered at an exclusive golf club, polo clubs, yachting clubs or racing their Ferraris at the track. No matter where they are or what they might be doing, we know they are doing it with other members of the pride.

If you’re fortunate to get a call from a homeowner who lives in a desirable neighborhood, you have a great potential project and a chance to meet a homeowner who is a member of the elite pride. This could be a big opportunity if you can make a strong connection with the homeowner, or it might be a disappointment if you cannot provide professional service that is perceived by the pride as having real value.
Remember, these homeowners are fully aware how some people in our industry will quote the street address and not the project. This is often a common pitfall and companies that continue this practice will always look like a stray to the pride of lions.

So how does a stray successfully design and build within the pride? First, it’s important to know how to service the pride’s members. They are looking for our input and expertise, but want their ideas to be heard. They are willing to pay for service but do not want to be taken to the cleaners. They want to feel like you have their best interest at heart and you will take care of problems before they can begin.

Many of us are qualified to provide goods and services for the upper-end client, but connecting with them socially, politically and professionally is where some of us fall short. To be considered a member of any type of pride, you must be a real asset who will increase the value and well-being of the group’s existence.