The Greatest Obstacle for Today's Remodeling Industry
By Brian Miller
The good times continue to roll in the remodeling industry. We’ve had a great run over multiple years. We can all agree we hope it continues for years to come. But while we celebrate the good times, are we also focused on finding ways to create lasting value for your customers and your company? Sometimes the greatest obstacle to reaching our fullest potential is our own success.
The Trap of Complacency
When things are going well it's easy to fall into the trap of complacency. We forget to take time to concentrate on the areas we need to improve. But if we don’t keep our eye on improving, when the bad times come again - which they will, eventually - then we’re not prepared for that. If you’ve been paying attention and you’ve really fine-tuned your performance, when a downturn occurs, you can thrive when everybody else is working to survive. The truly great companies always make time to look for and pursue opportunities that others might not be taking advantage of.
Opportunity to Do the Opposite
Warren Buffet has been known to say that part of his investment strategy is to watch what everyone else is doing, and then do the opposite. We can see how this plays out in the remodeling industry. During a soft market companies typically work hard to fine-tune everything they're doing and hone their skills, to maximize efficiencies wherever possible. It's survival mode. But when the good times come back around, these "best practice" activities get lost in a mad scramble to keep up. Strong companies, however, look at an active market as an opportunity to do just the opposite. This is when they invest in new technologies, hone skills, and improve efficiencies so that during the down times they can implement what they've learned. This proactive approach can sustain the healthy growth of a company for the long run.
The Leader's Job
In order to do this proactive work, we need to monitor key metrics for the business. Measure and improve. Then measure and improve, again. But how do you find the time to keep an eye on metrics and best practices when you're busier than ever? It's really the leader's responsibility to make sure this happens. This needs to be the priority not only for the company leader but for the leaders of the company's internal groups and teams (Sales, Installation, Customer Service, etc.). Each leader's job is to make continuous improvement a daily goal, demonstrate the importance of this to their team, and possibly provide incentives for performance.
I really enjoy watching a sports team that appears to have their rival beat but does not let up. I'm not talking about needlessly pouring it on, but too many sports teams go into a prevent defense because they’re protecting their lead. This mentality ends up making it a close game because they didn’t put them away when they could have. But, when you watch a team like the New England Patriots, they play their game to the last tick of the clock. What Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of the team have been able to do over the course of a decade or more, is unbelievable. Throughout their careers they've fine-tuned everything. And, although they get beat from time to time, they rarely get complacent.
The Biggest Winners
It's OK to feel like things are going well when you're winning the game at halftime. Just like it's OK to sleep well at night during boom times for your business. Just keep in mind that, when things are going well, people have a natural tendency to get complacent. Those who can resist this, and keep on improving every day, are the biggest long-term winners.