They called it "The Great Recession"...really for about six years, starting with "falling off a cliff." Then as one of our Directors famously said..."We chased the bottom"...for a long time!! In our case, I believe we went through eight structured lay-offs before we found that "Bottom." As I mentioned before, we set a goal of "Selling Our Way Out of the Recession"…and it worked. Those of you out there that have survived must have similar stories to tell. We sure didn't get through it by parking in a corner, curled up in a "Fetal" position. Anyway, we're here and s-l-o-w-l-y getting well.
Through all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears—at Kimal we're once again moving ahead! There is even a tendency to get a little "cocky." Now, in a small sense, the customer needs us a little more than we need them. I'm being "snarky" here, but there is often a tendency for folks that survive despite tough to incredible odds, to tend to "'take their pack off," as an ex-Marine friend of mine would say. The way I see the new "Dynamic" is this: Many of the Builders that survived have not been as successful (as prior to the downturn) in building back a total team to support their building efforts. Translated, “They are out there now doing their own scheduling, ordering, coordinating, etc.” And in many cases, doing it not too well.
So, to me, this “Builder Last-Minute Scramble” now becomes "Golden Opportunity" time. When these loyal customers call you in a panic, because they failed to schedule a door order, a trim walk-through, truss build, etc…and by the way, they can't wait four weeks...they need “X” no later than the end of next week...for Real!...our response should NOT be, "Hey, we're busy too--but maybe I can move that time up a little!" I feel and truly believe, now more than ever, we must be as "Humble" as we were while we were "crashing down." Time to be Super Empathetic and understand that they are struggling mightily to get their Game back in play, and any way we can help will be greatly appreciated by them...whether they'll tell you that or not.
First, if you can "Pull a Rabbit out of the Hat"...then just do it. (Remember the old words we often use in this industry? “The difficult we do right away...the impossible takes just a bit longer!!!” If you can't manage pulling out a Rabbit, at least do quite a bit better than the original timeline you set, and then make that happen!! And at the end it all, for gosh sakes, communicate well. Nothing worse than getting back to the customer with the answer (whether it's "Good" or "Bad") many days later, when he's left four messages and is beyond getting ticked off! I guess my final words on the subject...As chaotic as it is right now, live by the three Cs...Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate… and stay Humble!
As a final note, I'm going to begin to add some experiences to these letters...Just neat things that happened to me over the 54+ years I've been at it. Some years ago, in 1962, I was working for J.J. Walker at Walker Lumber in Sarasota. It was the middle of winter, and a boxcar arrived with some Green (Yes, just freshly cut) Hemlock 2X10, and 2X12, which I was getting ready to unload by hand. J.J. said..."There's a package on the top for me from the mill owner. Will you get that out right away and bring it to me?" Half an hour later, this boxcar that came from Oregon produced a frozen solid King Salmon that weighed about 25 pounds! And by the way, that "Green" lumber which had a moisture content of 40+ percent, was also "Frozen Solid" as we unloaded it! Talk about fun.....Not!!