Shawn McCadden
Sharpe + Harrell Photography Shawn McCadden

Survival tactics are meant to be temporary solutions used to solve current and short-term challenges with predictable endpoints. Most survival tactics will only serve your business for a limited time. Their use and effectiveness will often either run out or wear out. Lowering prices just to get work is one example of a survival tactic.

It’s time to stop thinking of just surviving. Besides, almost every other remodeling business out there is using similar survival tactics, including dropping prices. These companies, too, can only hold on for so long before these tactics are no longer effective or sustainable.

Reality Check

For some remodelers, it may be time to quit being a business owner. To determine if you fall into this category, take a hard, honest look at your situation. Assess your survival tactics and your financial ability to sustain them. Is their usable life almost or already over? Are you able to continue financing these tactics? Your balance sheet will give you the information that will shape your answer. (If you don’t have or can’t understand a balance sheet, get a professional to help you and do so right away.)

If your tactics are subsidizing your business rather than stimulating it, failure may be close at hand. The decision to close your business before you go bankrupt does not label you as a failure. Instead, failure would be to ignore a bad situation and be unable to pay your bills or complete projects.

Many remodelers have closed their businesses and moved on. Rather than wait for the business to shut them down, they have decided to shut down their business. Some have gone to work for other remodeling companies. In doing so, many say they have eliminated the stresses that were compromising their health and affecting important relationships. Some tell me they are much happier this way and enjoy being part of a successful team. They have gained better focus, giving them the ability to actually do what they love, do it really well, and even get paid well while doing it.

I saw a quote that said “The minds that got us into this mess are not likely qualified to help us get out of it.” Look in the mirror and decide if you have the ability and the resources to make the switch from just surviving. If you can afford to do so, get the outside help you need to put a new plan in place for your business. Make a real and measurable commitment to your plan. Part of the plan should be identifying if your business is improving or not — and whether you should come up with an exit strategy.

—Shawn McCadden founded, operated, and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute, he speaks at industry events and consults with remodelers. shawnm@charter.net

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