Alan Hanbury, CGR, 2001 Chair, Remodelors Council Board of Trustees
The following is no-nonsense advice from Alan Hanbury, CGR, Chair, Remodelors Council Board of Trustees.
Q: Where should a member’s priorities be now?
AH: It is important to remember that good times last only so long. Our success today is more a function of the economy than any sales and marketing skills we have. Remembering the rude awakening of October 1989, I believe strongly that members should be loading up on education; getting advice from the pages of this, our magazine partner; attending the RemodelAmerica show in Dallas in March, the Remodelers Show in Atlantic City in November and CGR courses. Invest your money for the future while you are making good money.
Q: Given the volatility of the current marketplace, what recommendations do you have for being ready for change?
AH: I was financially ready for the last downturn, having one year of overhead costs in the bank. That would be a conservative approach. I would suggest lining up credit with a bank today while your balance sheet and income statement are in tiptop shape. Know the old adage that you can’t get credit when you need it the most, so do it now. Be prepared to lay off in a timely and orderly fashion if conditions require. Make those decisions now when it won’t be as emotional.
Q: What is the greatest mistake you’ve seen members of the remodeling industry make?
AH: Thinking that they are the cause of their success. I don’t mean to sound overly simplistic, but for most of us, we are order takers. We never understand why people buy, the dynamics of the sales process as they relate to our business, finding the real issues and the true decision-maker. We go blithely along thinking we’re great until the phone stops ringing. Then it is someone else’s fault. We have not set up a system to drive customers wild about our company, freely mention us to their friends and co-workers; we haven’t given top-flight service and eventually are forced to take all jobs that come our way.
The time to build your success foundation is when you have the money and the leads [and can] afford to be picky, to find a niche, and to satisfy that group in a way that makes you unique in your market.
Q: What’s your assessment of remodeling industry’s current strengths and weaknesses?
AH: The current market is too easy to get into [and] out of. We will see all sorts of competition if the new home market softens, if there are big layoffs at factories, if kids can’t get mom and dad to pay for college, if people choose to work for cash under the table.
When work is bad, the market might shrink 10 to 15 percent but our share as professionals falls by 30 to 35 percent. Those phantom companies hurt us and ultimately hurt consumers with poor quality, no warranty and questionable adherence to codes, insurance and other laws followed by the responsible members of the [industry].
We can exploit these weaknesses by proving to our clients that we are on top of new regulations; are fully registered or licensed; have continuing education on our resumes; have CGR designations; and are members of a local, state and national federation that alerts us, educates us, and arms us with the tools to do the right thing.
Stand out in a crowd, stand up for what’s right, stand out in your community, stand up for safe and decent housing for all, and you will be noticed and acknowledged as the professional in your area worth becoming involved with. Then provide decent value and sit back and reap the rewards.
Q: Where will you place your focus?
AH: I am going to focus a great deal of our attention on the Remodelor 20 Program, CGR, making our two trade shows a success, and cooperating with our partner organizations to bring content and education to a wider audience. We can also expand our member services, and more importantly, promote those we already have. I’ll be talking more about those in the coming months. I am hoping for the same level of commitment and enthusiasm that was shown during Jan Williams’ term, and as much success.