Find a partner

Businesses and individuals have survived this fragile economy in many ways and to varying degrees of success. For many business owners, survival has meant finding partners who are willing to ride some rough waves together.

For example, car rental companies Alamo, Enterprise and National are partnering by sharing expenses for the courtesy buses at airports that transport travelers between terminals and rental stations. The marketing material inside the buses promotes their combined effort as one that is keeping the air cleaner, but there’s no doubt it’s reducing operating costs as well. Kudos to all three companies for doing their part to improve the environment, and for finding a way to survive at the same time. Clever marketing, too, by the way.

For custom home builders, a wave-riding partner can take many forms. The partner can be a private investor willing to take a risk, a software company with a solution to efficiency problems or a real estate agent ready to share referrals in exchange for a little less work and an easier path to payday.


A custom home builder I spoke to recently told me how he built and sold spec homes as part of his survival plan. A little surprised, especially considering his state is one of the worst hit in the housing market, I asked him how he funded the spec homes.

“We certainly didn’t go to a bank. Banks don’t exist anymore for small builders like us,” the builder told me. Instead, he found private investors willing to partner with him on a small development involving multiple prime pieces of real estate. It’s a sweet deal for the investors now that the two spec homes are sold and new construction is occurring on other lots within the development. The builder is benefitting as well, and in fact is doing quite well, keeping busy working with clients and cultivating prospects.


Home building industry veteran Brad Simons recommends a different partner for custom home builders. In his article on page 20, Simons suggests finding the best and hungriest local real estate agents to partner with. A custom home builder himself, as well as a Realtor, Simons shares his dual perspective on the benefits of such a relationship and provides a list of action items for making a partnership like this succeed.

As stability finally begins to establish itself in the housing market, although on loose footing at this point, many housing professionals have made it through the worst of this economic depression. Feeling confident and proud, they might wonder why they should partner with anyone at all. They don’t have to, but they must understand that potential partners might connect with their competitors instead. Are you willing to take that risk?