Introducing the Darwin Award
I have an idea for a new award for the homebuilding industry – the Darwin Award. It would be presented to any homebuilder (or company that depends on homebuilding for its existence) that is still in business today. Sure, that’s quite a few companies, but a damned sight fewer than existed a few short years ago.
It’s likely that if you’re reading this article, you’re still in the game. Congratulations! The natural selection process has deemed you among the fittest, leaving behind literally thousands of organizational carcasses that once roamed the land and left it half-developed. (After all, the word organization is derived from the word organism.)
So you’re still standing, if wobbly and battered. If you’ve made it this far, chances are you’ll pull through for the inevitable next “age.” So now what? Your markets have changed. The competitive landscape is different. Homebuyers are actually buying homes to live in, not as investments. Green is here to stay. The “BoomerANG Generation” (25-30 year olds) are living with Mom and Dad (yes, I’ve got one of them, too).
The ice caps are melting. Earthquakes are happening in the Carolinas. Everything is changing. So, how do you position your company for the Brave New World ahead?
It’s time to focus on growth and not merely survival. Are you asking yourself these questions?
How well do I really know my market(s)? Is the population growing or shrinking? Are new jobs being created? If so, in what industries? Are resale prices going up or down? Has the foreclosure tsunami finally subsided, or is it just taking a breather? What’s happening, really, with land prices? How long are homes on the market? How much inventory is out there? What are my successful competitors doing right?
What opportunities are in front of me? What markets have been opened up because of the closure of competitor’s businesses or the in-migration of new buyers? Where is the unexploited niche? How is the construction labor market holding up? Are there still great people in the marketplace that I can attract and recruit? Do I want to zig while others zag? How could I reinvent my company?
What do I need to do, specifically, to take advantage of the real opportunities in front of me? When should I start buying more land? Can I afford to build specs? Can I afford not to? Should I launch a new product line, or should I focus on my core competencies and markets?
Giraffes evolved with longer necks to reach a diminishing food supply. Gazelles ran faster to elude faster cheetahs. Chameleons evolved to change colors to hide from predators.
What are you doing today to evolve your company to tomorrow’s new world? What have you learned in the last five years that you can leverage for stronger growth? How will you avoid, or at least minimize, the inevitable next “ice age”?
Now’s the time. You’ve passed Darwin’s toughest test. You are among the fittest. Now what?