LBM Dealers, Will You Be Ready For The Next Generation of Contractors?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news; I’m really just the messenger. Servicing and doing business with contractors is about to change dramatically, again. That’s right, after the home building crash, if as an LBM Dealer you thought you had finally figured out how to get business from the remaining contractors, get ready, things are about to change, again!
At the upcoming NRLA LBM EXPO in Boston I will be presenting a lunchtime seminar for LBM Dealers on this topic titled “Will Your LBM Business Be Ready for the Next Generation of Contractors?” This blog will give you an idea of what the seminar will include. I hope you can attend.
Many LBM Dealers struggled to make it through the recession. A good number of them stayed alive by finding better ways to service and sell to remodelers. Savvy dealers quickly identified the unique differences between remodelers and builders. Realizing the differences they changed things like their selling methods, pricing strategies and product offerings to capture needed business and revenue. As a result many remodeling businesses enjoyed much better service and could offer their clients a greater variety of products and price points. Dealers who did not make the changes, or didn’t make significant enough changes, ended up closing their doors and or were bought up by larger dealers.
The mindset of the contractor will be changing
One thing that remained fairly constant during this evolution was who the contractors were and how they did business. For decades the majority of contractors operated their businesses as technicians. They thought of themselves as contractors, not construction business owners. The joy of building things and advancing their trade skills where the driving factors that made them who they were. As a result of this mentality, and the fact that there was almost always way more work available than contractors to do it, they could command profitable prices. And unfortunately, at the same time, they could also get by with poor business practices in the areas of sales, marketing and accounting.
Now is the time to recognize almost everything in the residential construction industry we could assume to be considered the norm about contractors, the marketplace and doing business will be going away. A new generation of contractors is rising to the surface. This next generation won’t accept the old ways of doing things. Get ready for Generation Y!
Here are several factors causing and or contributing to the coming changes
- About nine of every ten remodeling contractors go out of business within ten years of getting started. That means the construction industry has a new generation of remodeling business owners about every ten years, regardless of other factors.
- Employees who worked at failed firms often start their own businesses.
- Due to their age and physical abilities, a good number of baby boomer contractors will also be retiring. Many of these businesses will either be led by the next generation of the family or will simply close up shop.
- Many “old school” contractors who operated on “low bid” will need to work until they retire, die or their bodies give out due to a lack of retirement savings.
- Many older contractors will end up working for more savvy younger construction business owners.
- The next generation of remodeling and construction company owners will come from members of Generation Y.
They are tech savvy and ready to take on the world
At about 80 million strong, Generation Y is hell-bent on changing the world and is totally impatient with outdated business models. How they will do business and how they will buy what they need from LBM dealers will be dramatically different than what dealers have experienced from all previous generations of contractors. Use of technology, theirs and yours, will be the biggest factor.
Dealers and their staff will first need to recognize that this change is coming and that it will be significant. Then they will need to learn about these new contractors and embrace the changes needed if they want to be ready for Generation Y as they arrive. If not ready for Gen Y, like the “old school” contractors, LBM businesses will eventually end up closing their doors, seeking new leadership to survive, or be swallowed up by dealers who were the early adopters of new ways of doing business.