The New Reality
The Top 500 Share Their Reactions to the Remodeling Market and the Year Ahead
It has become a tradition for Qualified Remodeler editors, in conjunction with the compilation of each year’s Top 500 list, to ask those fortunate enough to be included in the latest edition of the list for their thoughts about the state of the industry and their prognostications for the future. The economic and housing trends that began in 2008 have become the new reality for most remodelers—not just a temporary downturn but part of a trend that will likely endure for the foreseeable future. Most remodelers who have been in business for any length of time are no strangers to the cyclical nature of the business, but many are saying the current economic adjustment is unlike any they have ever seen.
In addition, they’re willing and eager to talk about what they’ve experienced during the past several years. The response to this year’s questionnaire was overwhelming, delivering far more responses than could be shared in the print edition of Qualified Remodeler. Additional replies are included below.
1. Has the remodeling business changed dramatically over the past several years, or do you feel this is just one more cycle in the series of booms and downturns that characterized recent decades? What’s in store for the future?
2. Some remodelers appear to have thrived and even grown in what has endlessly been called “difficult” economic times. What’s different about these remodelers who have succeeded, apparently against the odds?
3. What is the one most significant change in the market and/or how you do business?
4. In response to changing conditions, have you done something in your business, good or bad, that you thought you would never do?
5. Have changing market conditions presented you with opportunities as well as challenges? If you discovered new opportunities, what were they?
6. How is your business different than it was several years ago?
Robert Williams, General Manager
Olneya Restoration Group
1. While the remodeling industry has experienced change, I do not feel it was too dramatic. With any business, the parameters of success change with time, and businesses need to adjust accordingly in order to ensure survival in their particular field. The new housing market continually tends to go through booms and downturns. However, the remodeling business tends to stay fairly consistent for the contractors who adjust with time and trends. The future will continue to have the same patterns as in the past, but the contractors who thrive will be the ones who stay consistent with their product and their message while satisfying each client on the level of expectations that were set up front and delivered upon. In a nutshell, I believe that if you continue to satisfy your clients while staying dynamic in your industry, the changing economy will have little to no affect on your company’s overall success or failure.
2. The remodelers that thrive are the remodelers who embrace the past trends while adapting to the new trends. By maintaining a strong focus on being true to the clients and your own core values, your efforts will be rewarded. In the end it’s all about how the client feels about their project and their desire to refer your company to their friends and family.
3. The most significant change in the market is the client involvement after the job has been completed. Ten years ago it was almost mandatory to bring new clients to a completed client’s new basement, kitchen, or bathroom remodel. Today it is almost impossible to pin down both the past client and prospective clients’ schedules to have that on-site meeting to show the quality of work and get that face-to-face referral. Asking someone to be on a reference sheet with their cell phone number is borderline insulting in today’s sensitive world. The trust between the average consumer and business professionals has sincerely dwindled because of untrustworthy companies and corporate practices. Earning that level of trust and comfort back from your customers is easily the most difficult process of doing business and something to strive for with each person we come in contact with.