There’s opportunity out there

January 3, 2011

Our cover story this month focuses on the opportunities being afforded by social media and the Web in general.
And although many remodelers aren’t buying into the social media movement, there’s ample reason you should be. (Our most recent survey on social media, published in the September 2010 issue, showed only 51 percent of remodelers ever visit social media sites, let alone use them for business.)
The general public, though, has been much more accepting. Two-thirds of American adults visit social media sites on a regular basis and 43 percent do so more than once a day, according to a recent Experian Simmons study.
Those numbers only get higher as the respondents get younger. A study from the Pew Research Center released in December found that 62 percent of Gen Xers use social media sites regularly. That number climbs to 83 percent for millenials.
Why is that important? Because that’s where the future demand for remodeling is going to come from. The Baby Boomers are aging out of the prime remodeling years and there is incredible pent-up demand for housing from the Xers and Millenials based on demographic trends.
Economist Tom Lawler recently ran the numbers. It’s the first data I’ve seen that confirms what we’ve all been hearing anecdotally. His research shows that the percent of those under 35 living with their parents is at record highs — up more than 30 percent from earlier this century. Not surprisingly, home ownership amongst that group is near historic lows, too.
Many remodelers still tell me that Baby Boomers are their only viable customer base. I certainly disagree, but even if that’s the case consider this: 50 percent of younger Boomers (under 55) are regular social network users, up from just 20 percent in 2008 and 43 percent of older boomers (55-64) are.
That brings us back to the point. You need to reach these current and future homeowners to position yourself for the recovery. This month’s article cover story should give you a nice start, with proven tips from remodelers who are successfully using the Web to land business.
They’re using search engine optimization, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — all the tools out there — to track down and communicate with clients.
(If you’re looking for more information on social media and will be attending the International Builders Show this month in Orlando, be sure to check out the panel I’ll be moderating on the subject in NAHB’s Remodelers’ Central.)
Every time there’s a major shift in the ways we communicate, there are companies left behind; companies that either simply refuse to adapt or are so scared of doing the wrong thing that they end up doing nothing at all. Then there are those who embrace the change. It’s up to you which side you end up on.

Jonathan Sweet is the editor in chief of Professional Remodeler, an award-winning trade publication for remodelers and home improvement contractors. He started his career covering homes and small businesses at a daily newspaper and has spent more than a decade writing for several construction trade publications including Qualified Remodeler, Construction Pro and Concrete Contractor+Jonathan Sweet