Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The New Joint Venture: Your Customers

Question to Homebuilders and Developers:

What thoughts come to mind when you think of a Homeowner's Assocation meeting? Do you think of axiety, anger, tomatoes, frustration, friction and burning torches? Probably. I've had those thoughts, too.

Last Thursday, I entered such a meeting.

But this one had the makings of being worse. I was about to inform the homeowners that the construction of the clubhouse and pool would be delayed indefinitely. Not permanently, mind you, but for the foreseable future. Financing of the clubhouse and pool had recently by de-funded by my construction lender leaving me with no choice but to postpone the December 2009 opening.

Not surprising, tensions rose; emotions erupted. Profanity ensued.

After a period of civil discussion (missing from our culture in every day America) something amazing happened. I mean AMAZING. A handful of homeowners offered to loan the money to pay for the clubhouse. Unbelievable.

Details haven't been worked out and I'm sure there will be a few. One thing is for sure: My business has a new Joint Venture. I couldn't be happier.

In these (economic) times, can you think of anyone you'd rather partner with than your customers?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Much Do You Charge for Integrity?

I know, it's a strange question.

But it seems to me that too many people are willing to compromise their integrity. In other words, people will discount their moral values to get the deal done, to please the boss, to avoid scrutiny. Some people don't even hide their intent.

You already knew that.

Here's the interesting part: I'm seeing this (lack of integrity) trend within prospective buyers of our homes. It's strange because I come from the school of thought that the buyer is always right. It occurs to me, though, that some buyers are only in the deal for themselves. There is no reciprocity.

Don't get me wrong. I respect the fact that people are looking out for themselves. Sometimes, you are all YOU have.

What I challenge is the immoral actions these buyers will take. For example, a prospective buyer who works with a buyer's agent (without a written agreement) for weeks in search of a new home only to then exclude the agent when the right (or wrong) home is chosen, hoping that the builder will slash the price even further. That's lack of integrity.

No doubt, the economy is wreaking havoc on our pocketbooks. It doesn't have to take a toll on our integrity.

At the end of the day, if you're only left with your integrity (and literally nothing else), you'll live a life worth living.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

See You at the Cheesecake Factory

While on vacation recently, my family and I were biking the beautiful trails of Beaver Creek, CO. As lunchtime approached, we began searching for a nice lunch spot. A place where we could find a nice salad, some refreshing iced tea and enough fuel to get us back to our final destination.

We rode thru a quanit mixed-use shopping center housing some trend retail stores, your corner coffee shop and a handful of restaurants - all of which would likely satisfy our hunger after two hours of biking. After skipping over three or four dining establishments, our interest was piqued by the line of people waiting outside of a normal-looking cafe. Just like that our name was on a list (behind 13 other people).

The last thing we wanted was to wait 30 minutes to silence our growling stomachs. We could have easily walked across the street and grabbed a table for five and finished our meal by the time we were seated at the first place. But we didn't.

So, there we were, like the dozens and dozens of patrons with handheld pagers at The Cheesecake Factory, waiting for a table. The same people I mock every time I go to the mall. What in the world would cause someone to wait in line (sometimes hours) for an average meal, with average service at an average price when you could go across the mall for the same thing? BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT.

Human beings like to be led. In other words, humans like to follow (See Seth Godin's, Tribes). A select few (people, restaurants, amusement parks, automobile manufacturers, athletes) choose to lead. Learn how to lead and the people will follow. Add incredible service, great value and quality products and you'll have people waiting in line to buy from you.