Be Careful What You Wish For
Be careful what you wish for is one of my favorite sayings. There is such a thinking opportunity that comes from those 6 simple words. To me, it isn’t as negative as it is to some.
I don’t see it as a statement that means: if you wish for something, it will not turn out as you would expect. I think of it more as: really consider the wishes you make and the value they have in your life and then prepare for the outcomes you believe are possible. In the home building and residential real estate industry of Houston, Texas, many of our wishes have come true recently. The problem is… now what?
Nearly unbridled growth is creating a buying frenzy in the market. Multiple offers on homes are the norm. Days on market are down to very low levels. And prices are escalating. Sounds great, right? Until you look at the other side of the coin where you see delivery dates not being met, customers unhappy with service because companies can’t handle the growth and pricing of products and services shooting up faster than the market can handle. Companies that were doing well the last few years are losing customers because their lead times have gotten too long. New builders, subcontractors and vendors are moving into the area to try and cash in on the modern day gold rush in our industry that is Houston. All of this creates a recipe for disaster. I am sure most of you know that the majority of lottery winners are bankrupt only a few years into it. Handling success is almost as hard as achieving it.
I have spoken to several companies that are not working to find new clients because they can’t handle what they have. Marketing budgets that were slashed during the downturn (big mistake to start with) are still at very low levels as everyone tries to recoup their losses from 2007-2012. Sadly, I have also seen the return of companies in our industry that don’t care about their customers or clients. Most went out of business during the hard times, but in good times, they always seem to pop back up. Some of you may know of a company like these examples. Some of you may be a company like these. Either way, what you have to remember is that our market, like any other, is cyclical. This period will be just that, a blink in the grand scheme of things. Today, you should be taking advantage of the market we have been given, but never lose sight of the potential for it to end.We do that by making sure our core customers are taken care of first, by allowing our difficult customers to find our service or product elsewhere and by adding new customers that fit our business model. In doing this, you will not only make more money, but you will get to do it serving people you like! You will lose headaches and gain efficiency. Lose problems and truly gain opportunities. Most importantly, when the pendulum swings back (as it always does) and the market slows again, you will be standing with like-minded people, able to weather the storm.
Sounds easy, right? Well, its not. Saying no to business is something we are not generally good at doing. However, with a little help from a coach, it can be done. I have experienced several instances recently where clients have told me how great it felt after it started working; how much less they dreaded their phones ringing once a few customers were seeking service elsewhere. One in particular actually enjoyed a vacation with very few phone calls and emails after we strategized. Now is the time to sharpen your ax. Efficiency is much easier to gain in a good market than a bad. Market to find those clients that fit with your company’s processes and ideals and get rid of some of your current ones that don’t. Bring in help to maximize your business now, while you have the money, versus waiting until things go south and you don’t. Most importantly of all, start thinking through what you are wishing for and figure out what you will do when you get it.