A Shifting Horizon Changes Your Perspective

by David Lupberger

The stock market has been on a roller-coaster ride for the past several months. I read an interesting article on this that provided me with an expanded context. The information below charts the S&P 500 stock index over some different time horizons.

Here are the facts.

  • Down 2.8 percent in the last 8 days
  • Down 16.7 percent in the last 6 months
David Lupberger, CR

That would appear to be bad news unless we put this information into a bigger context. If we extent that time horizon, we can learn the following regarding the performance of the S & P 500.

  • Up 61.5 percent over the past 5 years
  • Up 3,295.7 percent since July 12, 1996

See the graphic representation below.

Performance of the Standard & Poor’s Index of 500 stocks since 1996.

Context is everything. I mention this because a better understanding of the bigger picture can change a person’s perception. In the bigger picture, the S&P 500 has been a great investment.

This may sound unusual, but this got me thinking about the experience we create for our remodeling clients. If our clients are planning to live in their house during the project, they can expect the following:

  • We will be in the home from around 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., every workday.
  • In addition to our own employees, a steady stream of trade contractors will be working in their home.
  • If working in the winter, the house may be cold.
  • If working in the summer, the house may get warm.
  • We will stack materials at the end of each day and broom clean, but dust will be a common factor.
  • Standard household functions such as cooking (and some others) may need to be moved to a new location.

There is the real possibility that our clients will not understand the daily project demands and have periods of fear and frustration if communication is lacking. If a potential client has not been through a big remodeling project before, I can assure you that we will disrupt many if not all of their regular family routines. It is our job to prepare our clients for this invasive experience, and to guide them through this process.

When selling big projects in my own remodeling past, I employed the use of a chart called the Homeowner Emotional Roller Coaster. I would introduce this wonderful graphic early on in my sales process. I would add the graphic below to any sales materials I left for them and would do a quick review of that material.

When I would highlight the Homeowner Emotional Roller Coaster, they would ask what is that? My answer was always the same, “We have been talking about your project so let’s spend a few minutes talking about the process.” I have included a graphic of the Homeowner Emotional Roller Coaster below:

Homeowner Emotions Charted During a Remodel

I wanted my clients to know that in every project, there are numerous ups and downs because when they are living in the home being remodeled the experience is innately more challenging. If we add the additional unforeseen delays that will happen, their construction experience can become a real roller coaster of emotions.

It’s not enough to tell clients that remodeling can be upsetting. Besides the Homeowner Emotional Roller Coaster, we need to add specific activities that will in fact, guide your clients through an extensive remodeling project. There are two elements that I had remarkable success with:

  1. Weekly or bi-weekly scheduled homeowner progress meetings
  2. The onsite white board

Let me review each one. The homeowner progress meetings are just what they sound like, but they are not on random days or at random times. My homeowner progress meetings were once a week at a set time on one weekend morning. I always did this in the morning because everyone was more alert, and everyone had their schedule to meet. These meeting were efficient and were held before my clients went to work and as such, we did not waste time. The focus was on what happened in the past week and what will be happening in the next week. The agenda was simple and straightforward: 

Weekly Progress Meeting agenda:

  • Always start off with the past week review
  • Do you have any questions or concerns?
  • This is what we have planned for the next week
  • We need final paint selections in two weeks
  • The “drywall taped” draw will be due next week
  • Are you sure you don’t have any questions or concerns?

The progress meetings, done regularly, serve as a “pressure-relief” valve. Issues are not allowed to arise, and when issues or questions do arise you are there at a set time to review their concerns and answer their questions. You are there for them and they know they have your complete attention.

The Onsite Whiteboard

With construction management software you may not need this, but I found that homeowners like this added element. After the start of construction, I would post a standard 24” by 36” white board in the work area with dry-erase pens. I would let the homeowner know that if the homeowner had a question or concern, to simply write it and post it on the whiteboard. If they had questions, I told them not to worry about sending an e-mail or text. Just write their message or question on the whiteboard.

My promise was that every morning when the project manager or job superintendent arrives at the jobsite, they would go to the whiteboard first to see if any homeowner concerns need to be addressed. My follow-up promise to my clients was that if there was anything to address, that we would respond to any question posted on the whiteboard within 24 hours.

It was a simple thing, but between the weekly progress meetings and onsite whiteboard, I found that I could better manage my client expectations and emotions. I could create a process and weekly context that would address any project concerns and fears. There would still be the project ups and downs but with that weekly guidance, they would be assured that within that shifting project horizon, we were doing all we could do bring their project to a successful completion. Context is everything. QR

If you would like a copy of the Homeowner Emotional Roller Coaster to share with your clients, e-mail me at david@remodelforce.com. I am happy to share that with you.

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