Recession Proofing Your Business

Let me get this out of the way: I’m not predicting a recession. But let’s face it: Most of us have ridden this cycle a few times. In other words, there’s one over the horizon. I decided to write about this topic because I’m seeing some of the same poor behavior among service providers that I saw in the last recession. It was ugly then and it is still ugly.

I’m in real estate, so I deal with a LOT of service providers. Top of that list is builders, followed by subcontractors or ‘subs’. These include flooring installers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, even handymen. Then there are appraisers and lenders, attorneys and surveyors. Wow. These folks can get all of the work they need with builders now, who are also sitting in the catbird seat. Anything they can nail or staple together, they can sell. And any sub able to swing a hammer can get a job with them. In other words, they don’t need us right now.

The abundance of work is evident by providers who ignore our calls for assistance, refuse to negotiate at all, promise to show up and then don’t, charging astronomical fees for nominal work, breaking promises made at the the ‘deal’ table…you get the picture. That’s called greed, or poor time management or outright dishonesty, even if it hides behind the ‘very busy’ landscape. And it can be a situation where this provider hasn’t experienced a recession…yet.

In the last recession when things started slowing down, service providers who disregarded and disrespected realtors and other clients came with hats in hand, begging us to bring business to them. Do your clients need any work done? Do you know anybody who wants to buy a new home? That kind of thing. Remember, a lot of service providers went under during the last recession. So it’s just a good idea to stay centered and keep providing good service, even when you are busy as all get-out. Nothing is worse than the cheshire cat at the first meeting and then the Loch Ness when you need them.

Now, what PROMPTED this post was a Youtube video I watched about lenders, not realtors. The host warned lenders not to snuggle down in their rolling chairs and ignore calls from agents and clients, just because they’re busy. Why? Uh, it’s not always going to be like this. Well that goes for all of us. Time is often ‘of the essence’, and if we are fortunate enough to be selected to provide a service, then we should provide a SERVICE. Clients are not calling or emailing to annoy us; they are calling to PAY us for a service. And I can tell you this: My clients will kick a service provider to the curb FOREVER if they are treated like an annoyance…AS THEY SHOULD, by the way. And, dare I say this? I will also remember the ones who didn’t have time for me or treated me badly. When the chips are down, have you recession proofed your business? That’s the question. People who need help will always go to the ones they relied on before. That would be the ones who served them well.

Let’s do something completely out of the ordinary and look at things from the OTHER perspective. Just take a moment to think about lenders, who are INUNDATED with refinance closings as well as the other type, because rates are so low. Let’s think about the closing attorneys who are working SO hard to get everyone closed before the rate lock expires. Think about builders who can’t build fast enough to satisfy demand. They’re working around the clock and having a terrible time getting supplies and materials. Handymen are overworked, washed over with calls for refits and updates and repairs needed in order for closings to happen on time. EVERYBODY is maxed out. So let’s not call every day for an update when we don’t need one. Remember that while you are thinking about what to ask about, these people are working their behinds off. They’re not sipping a marguerita under a palm tree. Most of the time, no news is good news. I find that when information needs to be sent, it usually gets sent. There’s a queue and you are in it; if you haven’t heard yet, it’s probably not your turn. Okay. Fair and balanced.

So…let’s just assume everyone is stressed out, overworked and maybe not their usual loving and friendly self. Let’s try to understand. But at the same time, if you SAY you’re going to do it, JUST DO IT. And if I am hiring you, do NOT go underground and ignore me. You will be fired forever.

Recession proof your business. It’s just plain logical. And serving others well? Well that’s just the way it ought to be. Period.