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First, we hope that you, your families and team members are all well and adjusting to the “new normal” resulting from the Covid pandemic. Who could ever have imagined that life as we knew it could change so dramatically? Coupled with the political, economic and social upheaval, 2020 has been a year of challenge for most Americans. It has been especially tough for the self-employed who have had to adjust to business interruption, massive layoffs or, for some, the loss of their business.
While there is no denying the obvious, the news is not all bad. In fact, the adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” rings true. We were already aware that Americans are a special people. We are resilient and can make the best out of a bad situation. Think about it. We have survived health crises’, civil unrest, a war that almost broke our country’s union, terror attacks on our own soil, and countless wars where so many were maimed or who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. Now is a good time to remember that freedom isn’t “free.”
The reality is that we will get through this. “This too shall pass” is another adage that comes to mind. Hopefully, we will be wiser, stronger, more resilient and better prepared for the next challenge. And one thing that we can be sure of is that there will be challenges. There always are.
Like many in our industry, we have discovered that “necessity is the mother of invention.” We have not only learned to make the best of a bad situation, we have found ways to work smart, improve efficiency and trim costs. In the early stages of the pandemic we weren’t clear what the future would hold. We needed to immediately find ways to interface with our business prospects without the ability to enjoy our traditional in-home visit. Like the rest of the world we discovered the power of videoconferencing. We immediately began promoting “virtual design consultations.” It has been one of the best things that has happened to our business in ages.
Armed with a smart phone or tablet, prospects walk us through their homes and share the hopes and dreams for their proposed home improvement projects. We can collaborate on a screen, which allows us to share project photos, images, designs and other useful information that will help us “humanize” the digital connection. It works! We use the same technology for previously in-person team meetings and business conferences.
Fortunately for those of us in the building industry, business has been brisk. With the exception of a short period at the beginning of the pandemic, many have been busier than ever and demand for home-related services remains high. Home improvement centers, hardware stores, lumber yards and construction-related services have, for the most part, been deemed “essential” and, therefore, remained open for business.
We believe that people being confined to their homes has given them time to dwell on deficiencies and needed improvements that they have deferred. The demand has been further fueled by homeowners who have discovered the benefits of working from home. Less time in bumper-to-bumper traffic, more time with the family, and lower vehicle expense has made the idea of working from home attractive – even if only for part of the work week. The home office also doubles as a classroom as many children and young adults previously in classroom are now learning online. Consequently, demand for remodeling or add-ons to accommodate a home office is one of the most popular home improvements.
The building industry has always been a major unpinning of the American economy and 2020 is no exception. We can be both grateful and proud that we have the opportunity to serve our communities, perpetuate our businesses, and do our part to help our economy recover. Though it may be tough to envision now, we are confident that, as a nation, we will be stronger and better prepared for the next challenge.