Lupberger: Choose Wisely and Improve the Year Ahead

by Patrick OToole

Like most of you, I’m thinking about the year ahead. I’m thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months. The primary difference between you and I is likely age. I’m in my 60s and have spent most of last 30 years working in remodeling. Thirty years might sound like a lot, but it is not.

Plus, I’ve gained a lot of perspective along the way. With 30 years under my belt, I’m now much more selective about who I work with and the jobs I take. I have the freedom to do that. The fact is, you have that freedom too, no matter what your age. If there’s one piece of advice I can offer, it’s to begin exercising that freedom as soon as possible.

When I was a remodeler, I eventually chose my clients carefully. Today, as a consultant, I get to do the same. I only work with contractors with whom I share common values, goals, etc. 

David Lupberger, CR

Among this client group I am seeing a trend. Due to surging demand for remodeling services many are burned out. They are tired. But they don’t want to quit in this robust market. They would, however, love to decrease the hassle-factor that looms large in their daily lives. The burdens of increased business weigh heavy. Then you compound those burdens with the challenges posed by labor shortages, supply-chain delays, and pricing pressue, among others, then burnout is natural outcome. And if you are working with clients not of your own choosing, then the situation is worse.

Based on current economic projections this demanding market is our reality for the coming months and possibly years. The ongoing supply-chain delays and labor shortages are also expected to continue. Busy and overwhelmed are the status-quo for most remodelers.

If the market isn’t going to change, you will have to create needed business-management changes. You may need to do things differently. It will take time and consideration, but you can re-prioritize those areas where you want to put your time and limited attention. 

Make changes in this strong market

We are in a favorable market position. There is more demand than there are good contractors to fill that demand. Good contractors are booking work well into 2022. Also, I think many of us can learn from the present shortage of service workers. Many workers are saying “enough.” As a result, they are finding better wages and working conditions. They can do this due to the leverage that they now process in a diminished labor workforce. Many construction owners are dealing with similar issues in their own companies. For qualified workers, they are paying them more money.

Now imagine approaching future company sales with a similar mindset. In a recent blog posting, I wrote “Best Come – First Served.” In it, I suggested that you re-evaluate sales priorities and how you choose your customers and projects. Here are some additional questions to ask along this line of thinking.

  • Can you reprioritize your client list by who needs what you do the most?
  • Can you reprioritize your clients by the unique combination of skills that you provide?
  • Can you award your projects by the sort of clients would be the best fit?
  • Can you start by awarding projects based on company profitability?
  • The same questions can be asked about project location, client flexibility, past client relationships.

Does the future look just a little brighter? A little lighter?

Imagine designing a business model that rewards you for what you want to do. You have this leverage to do this now. You can say “no” to demanding prospects. You can say “no” to prospective clients who want to purchase their own materials because they think it will save them money. You can say “no” to potential customers who ask you to reduce project estimates and pricing! What I am suggesting is that you let go of your past “scarcity mindset”. Things have changed!

This is not an easy habit to get over. I have been through four economic downturns. The last one in 2008 was one of the toughest. That one left a mark. Today there is no scarcity in the remodeling industry. People have money and they want to spend it. Ideally, they want to spend it with an honest contractor who can design and build a space that they will enjoy for years to come.

They need you. You are in the driver’s seat now. What projects do you want to do? Who do you want to work with? What project price will reward you for the years of experience that you bring to the table? Business owners can wait a lifetime for a market like this. Now you have it. You have worked hard to build and establish your business. It’s time to leverage that experience. 

I need a hip-replacement in the not-too-distant future. Yep—that is a bi-product of a full and active life. With that said, I found a surgeon who has done several thousand joint replacements. He is good at what he does. He is in demand. If I am lucky, I hope to get on his April surgical schedule. It could well be May or June. It doesn’t matter—I will wait for him.

Imagine working with a similar mindset. If you are good at what you do, good clients will wait to work with you. You get to decide. I hope as you review your goals for the coming year, that you see a brighter and lighter year ahead. QR

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