Natural disasters are an unfortunate but all-too-tangible reality for millions of Americans throughout the country. 2017 was a particularly disastrous year. The cost of hurricanes alone in 2017, which ravaged Houston, Miami, Puerto Rico and other areas, reached $200 billion, according to National Geographic. That makes 2017 the most costly year on record, dwarfing the $159 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and other storms in 2005.
According to The Balance, Harvey damaged more than 203,000 homes by early September and affected more than 13 million people along the Gulf Coast. Irma damaged up to 90 percent of homes in the Florida Keys, according to The Daily Mail, while the damage Hurricane Maria wrought on Puerto Rico was nearly total, knocking out power for months and completely destroying the island’s infrastructure.
Meanwhile, a series of wildfires destroyed thousands of structures throughout California, including the Thomas Fire, which was the fifth-largest wildfire in modern California history, according to CNN.
The widespread destruction natural disasters cause to cities and states throughout the U.S. is not a new phenomenon, though 2017 was a particularly bad year. It’s incredibly heartbreaking, but also represents a significant opportunity for remodeling companies to provide those affected with a valuable service to help them rebuild their homes and lives as quickly, efficiently and cheaply as possible.
The major influx of remodeling requests after disasters, however, can create very real capacity problems for many remodelers, which may struggle to meet high demand with their current staff and existing technology solutions. Kitchen and Bath Design News, for instance, predicts 10 to 12 percent growth in the industry in 2018, “in part due to natural disasters in Florida, Texas, the Caribbean and Northern California, where there will be massive rebuilding.” That number will of course be higher in areas most affected by hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes and others disasters.
The boom kitchen and bath remodelers and others are currently experiencing and will continue to see throughout 2018 requires a new strategy in deploying technologies that can help them meet increased demand.
That begins with the first touch point a potential customer has with a remodeling company, whether that’s a phone call to a sales rep or a visit to the brand’s website. Both need to have efficiencies in place that can alleviate the extra burden increased demand places on staff, meaning that companies need to adopt technologies that can speed up or streamline the sales process.
In times of high demand, the ability to assist customers through new or refined workflows can play a critical role in accommodating a rapid expansion of the sales pipeline. This ensures that companies can not only meet that demand, but, more importantly, can help customers whose homes have been severely damaged begin to rebuild more quickly.
It’s also important to remember that, in times like those immediately following a natural disaster, the entire focus should be on making the customer feel comfortable. They’re dealing with an incredible amount of stress, as the New York Times notes: “The disorienting months following disaster are often marked by endless Saturdays spent wandering the aisles of Home Depot; afternoons wasted on the phone arguing with your insurance company about the value of an Ikea crib; and critical decisions made at your most vulnerable hour. And all of this often happens while you are living in temporary housing, wondering if your life will ever return to something like normal.”
Identifying ways to make your customers’ lives easier after natural disasters—and in general, really—is paramount, and shouldn’t be just a business goal, but a humanitarian one. If implementing a piece of technology that saves them (and you) a bit of time and hassle, especially in times of extreme duress, it’s worth it.