Like everyone else, business owners are affected by their emotions. Our outlook can change in an instant; one minute we're on cloud nine and the next we're down in the dumps. Our business decisions can be hugely influenced by whether we are feeling optimistic or pessimistic, or whether we feel there is scarcity or abundance.
To avoid these kinds of highs and lows, a businessperson must balance emotions with facts. The result will be better business decisions and a better night's sleep.
Not So Gloomy It's hard to read a newspaper or watch a news show these days without hearing something about a slowdown in the housing market. With so much gloomy news, it may be difficult to avoid feeling pessimistic about the economy and the future of your business.
But if you balance these emotions with facts, I think you will begin to see that the planets are still very much in alignment for the remodeling industry. Here are three reasons why I believe that the business opportunities for remodelers continue to be as strong as ever:
1. The homeowner. Today's homeowners have a greater need than ever for professional remodeling services. They are better educated and more risk-averse. The proliferation of products has overwhelmed them with options, and they need more help than ever making decisions. Despite the availability of information on the Internet, the typical homeowner doesn't have time to become an expert in the remodeling process and needs a sage to guide them through the maze.
Even though most housing markets are experiencing a slowdown in rate of appreciation, people still see their home as their greatest asset and a vehicle to a rewarding and meaningful lifestyle. Homeowners also have more discretionary income to invest, and they are still a bit skittish of the stock market as the sole investment option. The so-called slowdown may make some homeowners a bit more cautious, but the fundamental truths about home ownership and investment still apply.
2. The home. Single-family homes have become bigger and more complex than the typical development house of 30 or 40 years ago. That means they need more attention, are more difficult to maintain, and require professional expertise. Many homes built during the last 25 years are not as well constructed as those built 40 or 50 years ago, and products and styles have shorter life cycles and need to be upgraded more often. And because everything is more expensive, making a bad remodeling decision can have a greater effect on resale value. For all of these reasons, more than ever before the home is screaming for professional help.
3. The industry. The remodeling industry is set to explode: Total remodeling expenditures currently exceed those of public works projects, legal services, and many other industries; media attention (including radio, TV, magazines, and the Web) has increased tremendously; and building products manufacturers who were once solely focused on the new-construction market are turning their attention to remodeling as the next big opportunity. In addition, a growing number of national remodeling companies and franchises are coming into play, which will create some consolidation and growth.
Those are the facts. Homeowners aren't moving out of their houses, and not many are strapping on toolbelts to tackle remodeling projects.
Yes, interest rates are creeping upward, home appreciation is softening, and global events are creating uncertainty — I'm not suggesting you ignore the obvious. But I am suggesting you keep an eye on your long-term vision and goals, and realize that the fundamentals are still very sound. Your success or failure will be more a product of what you do than of the environment in which you do it. —Mark Richardson is president of Case Design/Remodeling and Case Handyman Services, Bethesda, Md. He was recently named a Maryland Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2006.