As I near the end of my tenure on the board of the RMBF, it has given me cause to stop and think about our industry.
I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity I’ve had to meet so many more of my peers than I might have, had I not got involved with the RMBF.
While we are all clearly passionate about our craft, in many ways ours is an incredibly tough industry to operate in.
There are lots of reasons for this, but in my opinion these three are the most important ones:
• Our customers are (in residential building anyway) making a very emotional purchase. Because of this, they are much more sensitive to cost, quality and performance that they might not be with most other products.
Sometimes the reality of the building process does not match the end result that a client expects, and this can lead to a perception of under delivery.
In my own case, on a number of projects a relatively minor outstanding issue or a situation of poor maintenance by the home owner has potentially cost us financially, or with referral business.
An example of this would be a small defect in a concrete paved area that irritates the owner but does not really warrant the disproportionate cost to remedy.
To combat this, good communication and high quality documentation throughout the project is vital.
• Most of our buildings are built after the sale is made. In essence, our customers are purchasing a product that is planned, but not produced at the time of contract signing. I know many builders who prefer to build homes on spec, so they sell only after construction is completed.
Obviously most other consumer products are able to be kicked and touched prior to being purchased.
Again, good communication and high quality documentation is key to bringing both parties through the process unscathed.
• Our industry is heavily regulated. In my opinion, it has become overly complex in some areas. The sheer volume of technical information and paper we have to deal with has got significantly worse, and will probably continue to do so.
However, we are aware that the current Minister is keen to introduce innovations such as electronic building consent applications and processing. Any improvement on the current machinations would be welcomed by our industry.
While I don’t necessarily have a silver bullet for dealing with these challenges that will create an environment of 100% satisfaction for all parties, it is important that we recognise they are not new challenges.
The better we arm ourselves with up-to-date information, good record keeping and good relationship management with our clients, the better placed we’ll be to survive and succeed in our exciting but incredibly tough industry.