There’s a saying from Buddha that I’ve always liked: Whatever a person frequently thinks and reflects on, that will become the inclination of their mind.
In other words, the things we place our attention on become the forces that drive our lives.
That saying is true on a personal level, and for our society as a whole. It’s also a helpful way to look at the business practices and innovations rising up in remodeling.
To that end, I make it a habit to listen carefully to what the industry is thinking about, since that is—or will become— our reality. Lately, I’ve noticed two “inclinations” that are picking up steam.
Marketing to the Labor Shortage
For the past couple of years, we’ve been hearing about a trend toward labor-saving products. Maybe it’s units shipped to the jobsite in just a few pieces so that fewer people can handle the install in less time; or maybe it’s a product that makes the actual build easier, allowing lower-skilled workers to complete tasks that would have previously required more expertise.
All of that is relatively old news. Here’s what’s new: More and more manufacturers are incorporating that line of thinking as they go to market. Even in cases where a product has been around for a long time, the marketing stories have changed from, “This is a great product” to “This is a labor-saving product.” Also relatively new is that a growing number of remodelers are now using that language when discussing projects with homeowners—“We use this product because it saves time and/or people on the job.”
Those shifts tell me that the labor shortage is no longer solely seen as a problem, although I’m not minimizing it in any way. Today, we also view it as a challenge that can be solved—at least partly—through innovation. This is “the inclination of our mind,” and it’s exciting.
Even in cases where a product has been around for a long time, the marketing stories have changed from, “This is a great product” to “This is a labor-saving product.”
Ants Vs. Grasshoppers
The other idea that I’m hearing more and more is the need to prepare for a market downturn. Remodeling has had a great run since the tail end of the recession, and while activity is still strong, there are growing predictions that it will soften.
If a downturn is indeed coming, now is the time to prepare. What does that mean? First, every aspect of your company should be systematized. The outcome of each lead, knowing your slippage and grippage, the procedure for asking for a review, everything. Those systems give you insight today and help protect you tomorrow if there’s less work to go around. Next is marketing. Is your message effective? What is the source of your leads, and why? A downturn hurts less if you can make up the dollars in share. And finally there’s your team. Now is the time to act on any needed changes and shore up your workplace culture. Many people have their minds set on a downturn, which means it’s half way to becoming reality.