The challenge for building materials companies in 2018 will be complacency.
Unless something changes, we will keep seeing a growing demand for building materials. And this growth will come at a nice steady pace that will be easy, comfortable and profitable to manage.
Complacency means doing what you’ve been doing in sales and marketing. It means lowering costs by cutting back on customer service and making it harder for them to do business with you.
Many building materials companies don’t see a reason to try anything new. They don’t want the stress that comes with having an aggressive growth goal. It’s a lot easier for everyone to look good when the goals they’ve set are easily attainable and can be reached without having to try something new.
Many Problems and Dangers That Come With Being Complacent.
1. Contactors, architects, builders, dealers, distributors and big boxes are not complacent. They can’t afford to be – they’re worried about their futures. Maybe it’s being closer to the action in the marketplace that makes it easier for them to see the danger of complacency.
These customers can actually see themselves becoming irrelevant and going out of business if they don’t keep up with the latest developments and try new things.
The single biggest area where I see building materials companies not keeping up with their customers is in their online marketing.
As more customers make their decisions based on what they find online, the companies with the best online presence will grow their sales faster.
2. Every day I see how customers are getting ahead of building materials companies in how they do business, communicate and make product decisions.
Building materials companies are just not keeping up. They are stuck in the past and relying on old-school solutions like trade shows, lunch and learns and even printed literature or advertising.
Every year, these become less and less effective ways to reach and sell customers.
3. The market is changing rapidly. The continuing growth of multifamily and design-build is just the tip of the iceberg. To deal with labor shortages and improve efficiency, panelized modular is approaching a tipping point where more buildings and components will be factory built.
But you couldn’t tell by watching the building materials companies. Instead of becoming the experts in the needs of this new market, they’re choosing to ignore it.
4. Complacency also leads to a shift away from trying to better meet the customer’s needs to a focus on lowering costs. Rather than adding to your piggybank of customer loyalty and goodwill, you’re withdrawing from it. Most of these changes seem small and insignificant to you, but your customer notices each one.
When you save, it adds up over time. Likewise, if you’re continually making withdrawals, it will eventually add up to an unhappy customer.
Changes in ordering, shipping, warranty claim or return policies probably don’t seem like a big deal to the manufacturer. But many of those changes are a big deal to your customer since they make it costlier to do business with you.
Most of these changes, moreover, are made arbitrarily, without checking with the customer. Complacency can be very costly.
So, watch out for complacency in 2018. If you’re willing to become one of the few companies that keeps innovating and trying new things, you will be putting more distance between yourself and your competitors.
What Others Say
“Totally agree with you, especially item #3. Have included that as part of our hypotheses for current weather barriers work, and every time I bring it up with manufacturers they look at me as though I have 3 heads. We have been involved in private client work over the last few years that has been increasingly reliant on modular buildings, so we have seen a transition from cheap, tract mobile homes as a focus, to commercial buildings and efficient building practices to handle labor and weather challenges to quality building and construction. Modular/panelization is not a fad, but a reality and those who figure out how to get their products included in work that is well done and of high quality will succeed.”
Susanna M. Ross – Industry Analyst – Principia Consulting