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Preparing for an Uncertain 2024

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Preparing for an Uncertain 2024

Here's how remodelers can prepare for unpredictable market


By Mark Richardson December 21, 2023
Business Strategy  (Adobe Stock)
Photo: stock.adobe.com
This article first appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Pro Remodeler.

I love headlines. They get your attention and boil ideas down to a few words. They can also create alignment, insights, and guidance. The headline for this year is “Uncertainty.”

In 2023, some remodelers had a great year, and some did not. Some had record profits, and some had losses. 

Many of those with down years attributed it to changes in market conditions (not themselves). Many of those with strong years took credit for having their act together (not luck). 

One common denominator with most remodeling businesses, regardless of whether they were up or down, is that they forecasted incorrectly. Lead flow in 2023 was erratic, and many lead sources did not perform. Sales and profits did not meet predictions, for better or worse. Many forecasts were just wrong.

One of my mantras for 2024 is we all need to be wrong less. Uncertainty does not have to be scary or bad, it just is. Sometimes the weather is uncertain. Sometimes traffic is uncertain, for better or worse. Sometimes our favorite football team wins or loses unexpectedly, which makes an interesting game.

If this theme resonates with you, here are a few thoughts on planning for a year of uncertainty so you’re not a deer in headlights.

 

1) Focus on what you know, not what you don’t know

You know that you have four months of backlog that, if performed well, will generate delighted clients and strong profits. 

Make it a top priority to move through these projects effectively. Increase internal checks and balances to make this happen.

Give your team extra attention so they are not frustrated and leave you. Maintaining a great client base will help ensure future work that could make things more predictable.

 

2) Plan for a 12-week year not a 12-month year

This sounds weird to some, but it’s effective. 

I encourage having a vision for the year and aligning your team around it. Then, shift the thinking to a detailed 12-week plan which will produce a better outcome in times of uncertainty. Look at your shorter-term pipeline and get aggressive to close deals or finish projects. 

Really focus on predictable lead sources, such as past clients and referrals. Try to rely on data to help make decisions, not just gut feelings. As you get close to the end of the 12-week year, plan the next one. 

 

3) Reverse your thinking

Focus more on what could go wrong, not what you think will happen. 

This is consistent with the adage, “A professional leaves nothing to chance.” While you have a 12-week plan and vision for the year, list everything that could derail it. 

This might sound a little pessimistic, but it’s more about building an insurance policy into your behaviors. If you need 25 leads per month, then shoot for 30. If you believe five projects will sign in the quarter, then try to line up seven. If your close rate is 20%, then build a plan for 15% (and consider how to increase it to 25%).

While we don’t generally like uncertainty, it can be positive if we prepare for it. The good news is that remodeling is the place to be right now. Homeowners don’t want to abandon their 3% mortgage and move. They are time starved and need professional help.

This year can be a good one for your business if you approach the game with the right plan and mindset.

 


written by

Mark Richardson

Contributor

Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com or 301.275.0208.


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