David Sharpe

For remodeling companies, the future will be less predictable and dogmatic than in the past. As always, when you think about the future, you have a choice: you can passively sit back and watch the future unfold before your eyes, or you can actively get out there and make the future happen. I think the active approach is not only more fun, but it’s also the option that is more likely to be successful for you and your business.

But there is a difference between predicting the future and preparing for the future. My predictions aren’t any better than anyone else’s, but I believe there are ways to prepare for the future by embracing it with excitement and enthusiasm.

Your People

More than ever before, remodeling is a team sport. Just like in tennis, where the strategies for singles are different from those for doubles, your team needs to think synergistically, seeking team wins, not just individual success. Production team members should see themselves not only as craftspeople but also as front-line marketers who can generate leads for the business. A salesperson should be looking beyond making the sale to ways to streamline communication and processes. The same goes for trade contractors and suppliers: you need to treat them — and encourage them to regard themselves — as extended family members who play an important role in your future success.

Your Product

While product innovation is a vital part of the remodeling business, I believe that remodeling projects five years from now will be similar to what they are today. But although kitchen and bathroom remodels will still be important remodeling projects, remodelers need to position themselves today to help their clients buy differently in the future.

Technology will be more important, and your role as “tour guide” will require new skills. Plus, you will need to maintain a generalist mindset while ensuring that you have access to the right specialists. Most importantly, think about “how” you will do things in the future, not just “what” you will do.

Your Practice

How well-diversified is your business? Can your company adapt to a changing economic environment? How much are you spending in time and money to position your company for the future?

Discussing questions like these with your team will stretch the “future-thinking muscles” that have been idle for the last few years. The process will lead not only to answers but to enthusiasm about the future, and that is a critical ingredient for success both today and tomorrow.

—Mark Richardson is co-chairman of The Case Institute of Remodeling. 301.229.4600; mrichardson@casedesign.com.

Read more Mark Richardson columns here.