John Hogan, President & CEO of Blue nail roofing and siding
Consistent leadership is vital in any organization, but it is especially important during times of inconsistency in the marketplace. As a leader, you must be able to maintain a calm and confident demeanor even when the market is fluctuating.
It’s also important not to move too fast or slow; getting too excited during a bull market can leave you making impulsive decisions that you will later regret. Likewise, if you get too discouraged during a bear market, you may be missing out on opportunities to buy low and sell high. Instead, it’s important to stay level-headed and focused on your long-term goals. By doing this, you can provide consistent leadership that helps your organization navigate uncertain market conditions.
These are lessons I’ve learned firsthand over the years. My company provides roofing and siding, and no one knew what was going to happen as most manufacturers closed their factories at the start of the pandemic, laid off workers and waited to see who was considered an essential worker. Contractors braced for disaster, but one thing that continued uninterrupted was the home improvement industry. Demand for home improvements skyrocketed because people were spending more time at home than ever before. It was the perfect storm. Consumers wanted more work done and manufacturers tried to reopen their facilities and train new staff to produce products at the speed of light.
The roofing and siding material options went from an overwhelming array of options and colors to one set of options with a few primary colors available. And “available” in many cases meant they were in production, but it would take 20 weeks or more to receive the product. You better hope the material arrived correctly and undamaged. Otherwise, you would have to wait another 20 weeks or more to replace it. This was a difficult position to be in with consumers, especially since contractors had no control over the situation.
With these kinds of challenges, it is essential to keep a cool head and communicate consistently with customers. In the case of my company, many of our clients were first-time home buyers who had no idea what they were getting into. We have done our best to explain the current market conditions and set expectations accordingly. In some cases this meant postponing start dates or dividing projects into phases. No one wanted to do this, but it was necessary to nurture our relationships with our customers and ensure that we were able to complete their projects to the best of our ability. Looking back, I am proud of how we handled such a difficult situation. Despite the challenges, we have been able to keep our business and come out stronger on the other side.
The key is to stay consistent and focus on your goals. You cannot overreact to market conditions. Stick to your core values and make progress every day that can increase over time. I’ve seen many companies get swept up in the peak of demand and inundate their companies with projects that couldn’t be handled well by their staff. It was important to adapt to the new virtual components of the world, which was not easy for many in the construction industry.
If you’re leading your business through an inconsistent market, try to stay level-headed, focus on your goals, and be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. As the bell curves show us, nothing lasts forever. The market will continue to evolve and change. I don’t expect this kind of question to last forever. And that’s okay if you’re consistent, focused on your goals, and don’t overreact to hot or cold markets. Your actions pile up day after day.