For the past three years, I’ve been teaching continuing education unit classes for realtors throughout New York State and New Jersey. This week, my real estate class participants agreed that the rumors were true—the over-the-top real estate market is cooling down. As interest rates increase, buyers can’t afford what they really want—or they aren’t interested in paying exorbitant prices. There goes that customer.
Overall, there are fewer houses for sale—partly because there is still a continuing housing shortage and sellers are realizing they can’t get those inflationed prices. There goes their window so maybe it’s time to sit this one out! Oh, let’s not forget continued increases in lumber prices. Fewer lumber supplies on the market equals insufficient material for new houses, which equals fewer homes being built.
I’m also reading about losses in pension funds for retired people and, of course, continued rising grocery prices and the lack of computer chips for cars, PCs, laptops, etc. “Winter is Coming,” as they say in the popular HBO series, “Game of Thrones.”
So, who cares you might ask? For the past two-and-a-half years, flooring retailers have capitalized on consumers with pent-up desires and extra money available who were dying to replace their ugly floors. But as consumer demand cools, it’s time for retailers to pivot. And that means getting back to the basics. Following are some tips:
Follow up on customers that are just sitting there and need attention. You know—the ones that are on the boards and you’ve been ignoring because you’ve been busy with so many new customers. Reach into your database and connect with those old customers you’ve forgotten.
Talk a good vendor into hosting a luncheon for business partners in your community or sphere. These include: builders, realtors, architects, interior designers, lenders and bankers. Everyone is going to feel the slowdown, so why not bring in the players and see how you can all work together. Economic slowdowns affect everyone, including those that bring you business.
Look for new avenues. Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) is still new but will soon be an old avenue. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the CAPS designation program teaches the technical, business management and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging-in-place. You need to jump on this while it’s still hot. You might also want to connect with another organization, Age Safe America, to find out how you can be certified as a home safety advisor. This will allow you to make recommendations to homeowners as to what changes in the house must be done for a senior to continue to live in their home. Note: there are lawyers and estate planners who have clients that would pay you to do a home assessment.
Be on the lookout for other companies or organizations you can partner with to generate supplemental business. Who do you know who you can combine your database with to bring in more customers? Perhaps reach out to dealers that sell appliances and kitchen remodels? In today’s climate, it’s important to look for opportunities to present yourself as a flooring specialist.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at [email protected]
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