You can come out of the bunker now.
New home construction looks likely to keep rising modestly for the next two years, while remodeling is on a low-grade uphill climb. Building material prices are rising, and rates for credit—when you can get it—remain at rock bottom. Sure, there still are enough goblins flying around the world to inspire fear and even panic, but in LBM, the positive signs outnumber the bad.
That means it’s time for you and your company to discard the hunker-down, starvation-diet thinking that you employed to survive the last seven lean years and begin preparing for a relative time of plenty. It will take a different kind of business model to prosper in this new era, one that emphasizes smart purchasing rather than lean inventories, healthy credit lines rather than meager borrowings, and technology rather than elbow grease.
Keep in mind, too, that you can’t base your future on the way you ran things in the pre-crash years of a decade ago. Too much has changed since then for past practices to succeed a second time.
Which way should you turn? The grid at right is a start. Then we follow up with four in-depth reports to help you set a new direction and take flight.
All Special Report Articles
As housing revives, follow these ideas to revive your business so it can handle and profit from increased business.
Fine-tune your operation's performance by adding these innovative metrics.
Housing data expert Jonathan Smoke predicts growth virtually everywhere nationwide.
Hanley Wood Market Intelligence’s Jonathan Smoke gives advice on which economic indicators deserve the most attention, how economists work, and what to expect through 2014.
Get on better footing with lenders by building relationships with myriad money sources.
Old-school management techniques are some of the best things you can do to advance when housing revives.
Tighter credit, scaled-back production, and a trucker shortage have put the entire supply chain in limbo.
Consultant Jim Enter offers this formula to help you decide whether your reps are generating sufficient sales.
Temps, '1099' contract workers, part-timers and outsourcing firms all might be better.
Veteran LBMer Dena Cordova makes the case for rebuilding your staff in part by hiring '1099' workers.
Layoffs during the downturn thinned the ranks, soured young people to an LBM career.
Dealers say there's an active market in seeking out other dealers' sales reps. But there's etiquette to be followed in pursuing those people.
How do you provide personal TLC when you're getting busier? By investing in technology.
Young remodelers are more tech-savvy than their older counterparts. For good or ill, that's going to change how dealers work with this group.