I am writing about this topic not because we are past covid but because most of us are so ready to be past covid. For all the reasons you know, remodeling has been a silver lining during this historic pandemic. But how might the next three quarters of 2021 look?
In June of 2020, an Remodeling Thought Leader articulated that there were actually four pandemics, not one. They are COVID-19, the elections, social unrest, and the economy. These were like a perfect storm that all came together and made 2020 a very uncertain year. Yet, we at least could visualize these four storms and their role in creating an environment we had never seen before. Mostly it was positive for remodeling.
Although 2021 continues to bring uncertainty, the road ahead is clearer now and we can plan a bit for the future rather than just think about how to get through next week. Along those lines, here are three things to consider when mapping your course ahead.
What’s next in the remodeling industry?
1. Consumer demand
Over the last year, we have seen a tidal wave of consumer interest in remodeling. I am now seeing now a second tidal wave out there that could be bigger than 2020. This is driven by all the folks that will be feeling safer having remodeling work done post-vaccination as well as the people that can now feel more confident about their employment and their ability to pay for the project in the future. This second tidal wave should not only continue the momentum of the covid tidal wave but also should push it well into 2022 and beyond.
2. Managing backlog
Backlog is a blessing and a curse. I have asked audiences over the years, “How would you feel if you had a 6-to-12-month backlog?” and as you can expect most smile and say it would feel good. Then I ask, “How would Andersen Windows feel if they could not produce another window for 6 to 12 months?” As you can imagine, it would be a business disaster. The clients would move onto other products. They would lose market share. Salespeople would leave the company. And major marketing money would have been wasted.
One of your biggest priorities now is to manage and control the backlog. If you can say to a prospect that your backlog for bathroom projects is five weeks versus 16 weeks, then you will differentiate yourself. You will increase your close rate, and your marketing dollars will be more effective. The tidal wave I spoke about in number one will create a business environment where backlog and speed are as important as price and quality. Those that own the production schedules will be not only ahead but also will be more profitable.
3. Project shifts
If the pandemic would have lasted 3-to-4-months as many of us predicted in March of 2020, then new thinking, processes, and habits would never have formed. Homeowners would have quickly gravitated back to the priorities that were there before COVID-19. Yet because the pandemic has lasted for so long, the memories are now scars that might never go away. Our priorities have changed. Many now believe another pandemic is possible and therefore we should prepare our home for it in the future.
I believe we will see more importance, not less, put on the home. This will be a real cultural shift, not just a trend. Outdoor living will remain critical. Healthy indoor environments with air exchanges and sanitation will be a priority. While people will appreciate open-concept designs, they also know that interior doors are attractive for segregating activities. The number of bathrooms per person will increase due to our germaphobia.
There will be much more written about life after the pandemic, but the important thing is to think about it. Begin to spend time listening more. Begin to have more conversations with your team and your clients. Humans are resilient creatures, but we do need to adapt to survive and thrive.