My buddy, Chris Sterle, and I were talking the other day about the best way to break through during a five-minute speed dating event put on by our local homebuilder’s association. “I know!” he exclaimed. “Get a genie lamp and grant each builder three wishes after they rub it. Ask them how their subcontractors could be doing better.” This gimmick worked like a champ. I’m sure somewhere I will be referred to as “the lamp guy” at a future happy hour. The responses I documented from the three wishes exercise inspired me to write this blog. By decoupling myself from trying to sell anything and focusing on the builders and their pain, it drew me closer to them quickly and built rapport in minutes versus the legacy approach I saw some of my fellow subcontractors using commonly referred to as “show up and throw up.”
What did the builders have to say? Glad you asked. Here are their responses in order of popularity:
- On Time — This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Homebuilders are chasing certificates of occupancy (COs). No CO, no final check. If an integrator fails to rough the house in on time, that pushes insulation and sheetrock, which in turn pushes the final closing date. In the commercial world, subcontractors like us are fined daily for this kind of breach.
- On Budget — No one likes surprises. 2022 has seen many vendors raising prices three or more times. Savvy integrators have followed suit, passing along those price increases to builders and consumers. If homebuilders are staring down a price increase on houses already released into production, they may have to eat the price difference, causing discomfort and leaving a bad taste in their mouths.
- No Mistakes — Nobody believes in and despises the Screw Up Fairy more than the CI channel. If it can go wrong, it will, it has, and will again. All the training in the world can be undone by a firmware update gone wrong. Seasoned integrators understand the value of not adopting the latest shiny objects and “guinea-pigging” clients. By designing and installing similar systems over and over again, while resisting the urge to do one-off work prone to screw ups, integrators can be a better ally to their homebuilders.
- Better Communications — You may have read my blog about Good News, Bad News, and No News. Rest assured that the struggle is real. Better yet, good communication can be a competitive differentiator. Lean into the fact that your competitor thinks it’s just fine to ghost a builder because “I was waiting to hear back from INSERT NAME HERE.”
When was the last time you attended a meeting at your local homebuilder’s association? Are you serving on a committee? If not, why not? Out of sight, out of mind. If it’s been a while, jump back in and have them rub the lamp. You might be surprised by what you find out.
Stay frosty, and see you in the field.
Related: Talking to the Trades