By Ryan Siebert
Change is hard for most of us in life and when it comes to business we often avoid it like the plague. Recently my father came to visit, apparently family likes to visit when you have a kid. We struck up a conversation about the changes he has made in life to become a better person. He mentioned that the biggest changes come from the People, Places and Things that are a part of your life. I found myself relating his personal choices to those that as a homebuilder I need to be willing to make.
As humans we do not like to change the people that are in our lives. We get comfortable being with people that we know, like and trust. It is often our unwillingness to change that puts blinders on us and holds us back from growth. Ask anyone that has broken off a long relationship how difficult it was to call it quits. In my business as a homebuilder I am always having to make tough decisions with the people that are involved in the business. We rely heavily on our subcontractors to complete our projects. The homebuilding and remodeling industry is an ever moving target so the old way of business doesn’t always work. It is at those times that tough conversations need to be had to allow us to move on and grow our business. For example, when we were flipping 40-50 homes a year we had a lack of quality control. The homes would get done fast, but the quality and craftsmanship lacked and we often had punch lists that lasted 6 months. When we began to do custom projects some of our finish subcontractors were unwilling to change. We had to move on from them and begin new relationships. Had we not been willing to change the people we worked with, we would not be working on custom projects today.
In life, especially when we are young, we can find ourselves in the wrong places and the wrong times. As much fun as the thrill of staying up until the next morning sunlight can be, we eventually have to decide to change the places we spend our time. I relate this comparison to the areas that we choose to market in. We began marketing homes in the west suburbs, out to the north, south, in Chicago, back out to the suburbs and even into Wisconsin at one point. The idea for us at SG Home Builders was to always be flexible with where you are willing to do business so we don’t find ourselves hanging at the same dive bar having the same conversations with the same people wondering where the weekend went.
This can be difficult to changeas well. For us as individuals it is not easy to change what we have done our entire life. It is what makes us who we are. However, when you realize that avoiding the gym to watch TV, or spending time at the casino vs the church is no longer good for you, then it is time to change. For our business we have had to be flexible with the services we offer. Four years ago we would have not taken the time of day to discuss with anyone a custom home built project. Today a client looking for a custom homebuilder is our bread and butter client. It has not been easy to transition, we spent a few years going back to our old habits of speculative remodeling and we paid the price. Such is life.
I do not know many people that like to change. We often like to talk about it. Change works best when we put it to action.