The Weekly is STREAMING now. Join us at HorizonTV
Director of Content

Erika Taylor is the director of content for Professional Remodeler. Contact her at etaylor@sgcmail.com or 972.803.4014.

Shaping Solutions

Remodelers are looking at their processes rather than relying on a quick fix 

May 27, 2020
Printer-friendly version

I’ve always been both fascinated and horrified by the Greek God Procrustes. This son of Poseidon was an inn keeper, thief, and murderer. Procrustes would cheerfully invite travelers to spend the night in his amazing bed. “It perfectly fits everyone who sleeps in it,” he would say. Well, that depends on how you define the word “fits.” 

Procrustes carefully measured everyone who lay down in his bed. If the person was too tall, he cut off their legs. If they were too short, he placed them on a torture rack, stretching their body until it fit. Either way, the traveler died and Procrustes stole their money. 

Over time, the term “Procrustean bed” has come to mean a way of solving problems that forces conformity rather than innovation. Put another way, this mode of thinking insists on reshaping the problem to fit the solution even if that means the issue itself is not addressed. 

I have noticed this a number of times with remodeling companies, especially smaller ones. Frequently, business owners in our industry insist on doing things the way they always have even when the market is clearly telling them that it’s time to change. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the home improvement industry. More and more consumers now want a seamless, digitally-based approach to the sales process, yet, until recently, the majority of replacement contractors insisted on parking themselves at a homeowner’s kitchen table, and remaining there sometimes for hours. 

But lately I’m seeing a new approach. 

Over time, the term “Procrustean bed” has come to mean a way of solving problems that forces conformity rather than innovation. Put another way, this mode of thinking insists on reshaping the problem to fit the solution even if that means the issue itself is not addressed. 

Driven by COVID-19, more remodelers are now forced to embrace virtual sales appointments. Many I’ve spoken with are utilizing a hybrid approach where they will drive out to visit a homeowner in person if he or she insists, but otherwise prefer to keep meetings online. I believe that this change reflects a long-overdue alteration, and while it’s sad that it took a pandemic to make it happen, it’s a good thing that many remodelers are finally starting to do business in a way that’s reflects the world today. 

Industry expert and consultant Mark Richardson estimates that prior to COVID-19 online appointments accounted for about 2% of all sales calls. Today, he believes that number is more like 50%. 

Another anti-Procrustean change created by COVID has to do with remodelers’ attitudes about their own businesses. April brought a complete collapse in leads. The month of May, while much better in some regions, still showed softness in many markets. This created time for remodelers to work on improving their companies. Many business owners are taking a long-overdue deep dive into their processes rather than relying on a quick-fix created on the fly by the necessity of the moment. (For a great column by Robi Kirsic on this topic, turn to page 18.)

COVID-19 is terrible. But the good news is that it’s forced our industry to look at problems in a new, and healthier, way. 

Add new comment

Overlay Init