What to expect in 2024 is the subject of the latest Remodeling Mastery podcast, hosted by consultant, author, and industry veteran Mark Richardson. In it, Richardson discusses uncertainty and why more residential construction professionals need to embrace it in the new year.
“Regardless of whether (2023) was a good year or bad year,” Richardson says, “it was probably a year you predicted incorrectly.”
Uncertainty, he explains, like it or not, is the state in which so much of the world currently exists. Consumers are uncertain, the presidency is uncertain, many of the crises around the globe are uncertain—better to expect it rather than ignore it. “If you go into the year, weaving that into your thinking, you’re going to do better.”
But embracing uncertainty may feel unnatural to many who start the new year excited with expectation, which is why Richardson provides several tips for thinking in an uncertain environment.
Thinking in an Uncertain Environment
Know what you know and don’t know — There are certain things that can be known as a builder or remodeler working in today’s industry and certain things that can’t be known.
“What you do know is you have a client base. What you don’t know is who those clients are going to be,” Richardson says. “What you do know is you have a backlog of projects that are already signed and in production. So you do know that’s fairly secure revenue that will come into your business.”
The more a contractor understands where predictability is and isn’t, Richardon says, the better equipped for success they’ll be.
Listen more — Rather than relying on history or your gut, Richardson says that listening will be paramount for navigating 2024’s uncertain waters. Just be careful to listen to the people that matter most.
“Spend some time talking to different industry experts,” Richardson recommends. “Talk to suppliers. Talk to subcontractors. And most importantly, talk to your team.”
Rethink your calendar — Many remodelers and builders work with a 12-month mindset, which typically aligns with the calendar months (ie, with the year starting in January and ending in December). In this regard, Richardson first suggests that business owners not tether themselves to that conventional thinking.
“Certain times of the year are more predictable than others,” says Richardson, noting that for residential construction, the final quarter of the year is typically the least predictable. In his previous role as a remodeling business owner, Richardson used this information to create a fiscal calendar unique to the business. “What we did was shift our fiscal year so that it started on October 1,” he explains. “We knew after the first quarter what we needed to do in the last three quarters.”
Considering our unique environment of uncertainty, however, Richardson recommends owners take this thinking a step further. “Create a 12-week year,” he says. “Your quarter one is the year.”
Richardson likens it to driving. “Think of it like a journey, where your vision is the horizon,” he says. “The short-term things you’re doing this week are the things around you—the cars on the road but also the hood of the car. The medium term—which I really think of as 12 week out—is looking at a half-mile out, where you can see the exit coming up. You can start to move into other lanes so don’t miss the exit, and you do it gracefully.”
For Richardson’s full list of tips for thinking in an uncertain environment, check out his latest podcast below.