From what I’ve heard talking to commercial flooring contractors, business is for all intents and purposes back to a healthy level. The economic collapse and slow, inching recovery is now a receding memory. While it’s a relief to know that business is booming (at least on the commercial side) and the industry is able to breathe again, one thing that’s important to remember is the economy is cyclical. Through its very nature, it’s going to have ups and downs—some more dramatic than others. That said, please remember to follow good business habits and take the lessons you learned in this last downturn to heart.
It’s not a question of if there will ever be economic struggles to have to hunker down against—it’s a question of when. Those who are putting a plan in place for leaner times, even while business is still on the upswing, will have a chance to survive. Those who are caught unaware and by total surprise will be entered into the historical ledger as a footnote, not the victor.
Going from trade show to trade show, meeting to meeting, I’ve come to realize that the experts who are paid to tell us the future of the economy are about as accurate with their predictions as your local weather forecaster. They can use computer models, leading indicators, and probably a couple barrels of tea leaves and read into them whatever they want. I was at a meeting recently where an economist warned the assembled crowd that the economy growing by leaps and bounds is not necessarily a good thing because it means there’s not as much room left to grow, indicating another downturn is imminent. So in his view, up is quite literally down. I’ll admit—I had trouble wrapping my mind around that one.
A plan that seems to work for everybody when it comes to making themselves more or less recession-proof is to be more creative than the guy down the street. Think of new ways to excite and entice potential customers. If you can show your value through your expertise and your unique approach to problem-solving, you will find a loyal base of customers. Not only that, you’ll find customers who are willing to pay more.
You may think I’m talking about a fantasy world where big box stores and unqualified labor aren’t exerting downward pressure on the industry. I’m not. Those pressures and that competition is real, it is fierce, and in many ways it is unfair. However, despite all these pressures, our editorial director, Jon Namba, is constantly busy. Why? He doesn’t play the price game. Instead, he lets his knowledge, creativity and deep skillset speak for themselves.