Rising From The Ashes
Ever have the feeling like you can’t win? A few short years ago, all you heard about was builders going under left and right. It was survival of the fittest, and all of us could have used a bit more time at the gym. Many of us had too much overhead and not nearly enough clients while we struggled with the issues of how to stay alive. Some were thinking, do I diversify from just building to add remodeling? If already remodeling, maybe it was adding building or even commercial. Some wondered, “Do I let people with families go even though they are counting on me and believed in me enough to work with me? Do I cut prices to try and gain some business even though in order to do that and maintain a reasonable profit I will have to cut some corners somewhere (even if that somewhere is my own sanity)?
These and many other struggles probably have a few of you nodding your heads. Well congratulations, if you are reading this, it’s likely that you are still in the building industry. You made it. The true test of a person is the ability to rise from the charred ashes of a difficult string of events. The longer the event window, the stronger you should come out on the other side. You are still part of one of the most rewarding businesses in the world. We provide one of humanities most basic needs: shelter. We provide the place where children take their first steps, families bond, and people (hopefully) feel safe. In fact, we don’t just provide shelter or a house, we build homes. Once you have felt, not just seen the beauty of watching someone cry when they get their keys, your perspective is changed forever. We provide possibly the most important place in a person’s life. Do you feel the gravity of that?
So how do we move on from the ashes while still remembering the lessons the fires taught us? That is the challenge facing the survivors. First things first, we have to adjust our view again. Most of us were so caught up in putting out fires that we stopped trying to prevent them. We threw pails of water as fast as we could instead of learning the best ways to stop them from happening. Translation: continuing education/training budgets were some of the first to go. As business starts to accelerate again, get ahead of the curve and be sure you and your team are up on the latest trends and methods of improving your company. The fires are behind you, now it is time to forge ahead. Second, let’s not allow the fear of the past to rule our future. You probably didn’t make decisions in 2008 based on information and ideas from 2006, now you have to make them based on 2013, not 2010. The group that truly profits from this upswing will be the people in the game, not the ones watching it go by.
Third, remember the lessons you’ve learned and put them into practice. A good friend of mine once told me that a bad market is good for the best people. It eliminates all the players in the game that were not fully committed. An example would be, the people in it only for the money. They built structures, not homes. They didn’t care about who moved in, only that they qualified for the loan. The better people were kept afloat by the relationships we had created with trades and customers – relationships that insured everyone helped everyone else. And this brings me to my last point: Never ever forget who helped you through. There is way too little loyalty in our society today. People place less and less value on true relationships as the word ‘friend’ has been bastardized by social media to include acquaintances and people you haven’t had a meaningful conversation with in 30 years. Most of those are not friends. While social media is important, please don’t confuse that with a real friendship or business partnership. I think the last few years exposed many ‘friendships’ that were shams. Remember that as the shams and new ones try to get your business. Where were they in 2009?
We have survived the Mayan apocalypse (admit it, some of you stocked up on canned food), so now lets push our business and our industry to new heights. This is a make it happen moment in time. The fires are dying down. It’s time to rise from the ashes.