|Dean Horowitz, Publisher|
Remember when you were starting out and intensely studied all the companies you wanted yours to be like? You observed their marketing, walked their models and read their profiles. When you met an individual from one of those companies, you were enthusiastic with questions, wanting to learn more.
Something happened along the way. In the course of learning, you became one of them. The best practices of those organizations are now evident in your company. You are part of the core of the industry now. You specify and buy products, your design is customer-driven, and you have a track record of success that demonstrates the stability of your company and the reliability of your homes in the marketplace. Even economists consider you the most significant positive market indicator in an economy offering few.
The requirements of your business are changing. No longer do you rely on local suppliers for information; there isn’t the same need for guidance in selecting the right products. You have your own information sources now and can drive your business by what makes sense for it rather than what is being offered at the local lumberyard.
This new step requires a few things, however:
1) Eliminate old habits that don’t drive your bottom line or your enjoyment of doing business.
2) Re-examine your company’s structure and its business relationships.
3) Leverage your market position for more benefits and opportunities.
Getting rid of old habits might mean taking a fresh look at the way your business functions. Is your marketing plan still the best representation of what your company offers home buyers? Has your technology investment made some support positions redundant? Could those individuals now serve you better in a customer service capacity? Could their knowledge of your business be more important to you than typing letters?
Are you still working with suppliers that require more flexibility and understanding from you than they provide back? Is it time for you to take on new responsibilities and delegate some of the ones you are most comfortable with to others?
Making tough decisions and handling tough problems will never go away. They are part of your daily job, but finally you are at a place where you can drive the opportunities for excellence. You can make decisions about the right partners, co-workers, suppliers and even customers. As for leveraging your market position, now is a ripe time for you.
I want to use an example a recent situation I learned from that got me going on this subject.
For the holidays last winter, I got a great gift from our sales team: a week on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with all additional equipment included. I was overwhelmed. I am a motorcycle enthusiast but had never spent time on a Harley. I finally took advantage of the gift a couple of weeks ago. I let the Harley replace my car for a week.
When on a Harley, you are no longer simply a motorcycle rider, you symbolize something. This brand is part of our American experience with all of its connotations. People treated me differently, stared at the bike when I stopped at traffic lights. For a few days, I symbolized something that so many people want to become: free, cool, slightly on the edge and totally exhilarated.
You see where I am going? Like you create more than houses, Harley-Davidson creates more than motorcycles. You create an experience linked to the homes you build and the customers you serve. If you build affordable housing, it might be value, quality, neighborhoods and location. If you are a luxury home builder, you create a milestone product that someone earned and others desire.
It’s time to leverage your position, your market significance with your suppliers. What you do influences construction in your area. Take advantage of being among the core.