Leadership

Signal Vs Noise: As Fed Shifts, Double-Down On People Care

Amid a rocky patch of higher cost inflation and likely interest rate increases, focus on customers -- and the new map of their motivations -- will set sharp competitive boundaries.

Leadership

Signal Vs Noise: As Fed Shifts, Double-Down On People Care

Amid a rocky patch of higher cost inflation and likely interest rate increases, focus on customers -- and the new map of their motivations -- will set sharp competitive boundaries.

January 26th, 2022
Signal Vs Noise: As Fed Shifts, Double-Down On People Care
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Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care." – Theodore Roosevelt

A turbulent barrage of inflationary squalls, and quickly gathering inhospitable storms that can disrupt the cost of access to money for both consumers and businesses draws "all eyes" today to a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve.

Signal clarity is expected outcome of this afternoon's Fed comments, and that clarity will favor homebuilders in some strong measures – i.e. the timeless value and inflationary hedge of home- and property ownership – even as it works to shrink payment power and the size and depth of the potential buyer pool.

The signal's impact on homebuilding's lifeblood, inventory turns – their velocity, margins, predictability, etc. – suggest a 2022 that will test the grit of both the macro homebuilding business community and its tens of thousands of separate going-concern parts.

Meanwhile, the noise around that signal – political, social, economic, and operational -- will more than distract, it will detract from the American homebuilding business culture's focus on summoning the grit to ride out 2022 and 2023 turmoil, and grow as firms and as a community where it matters most.

Caring.

The term came up into English usage at first strongly linked to expressions for "sorry, anxiety, and grief," and evolved around 1400s to include "charge, oversight, attention or heed with a view to safety or protection."

What gets forgotten – especially when times and trends are not about grit but about a tide of momentum lifting all players upward – is a tie between care and homebuilding economics 101's lifeblood building block, the inventory turn.

Here, for instance, is a snapshot glimpse of the way "care" unbundles at the kitchen table in many households:

Source: Morning Consult

Where the grit of the patch of months ahead – following a Fed quantitative tightening announcement that could pitch bank reserves, debt and equity markets,  and global liquidity on to shifting grounds, and, later, pressure interest rates upwards, where each 25 basis-points increase in a 30-year-fixed mortgage shaves millions of would-be buyers off the tally of demand – meets care matters most.

Care, in the sense of customer care, already gets too little of the brilliance, commitment, and investment that builders pour into the grit and determination 0f their everyday problem-solving.

Thing is, if builders double-down on grit to get through the financial market bumps and bruises, and weather Federal policy shifts on both their own and customers' access to capital and lending, they'll be pushing on a string if those efforts don't nest in an expanded embrace of caring for people – paying customers, working team members, hired crews, business partners and their partners.

The map of motivation to become a consumer, or not – and, yes, an inventory turn, or not – now draws on a wholler array of influences, where safety, well-being, and caring count, not just inside the walls of a house, but in a place – home – that tentacles into a wider community.

Image source: Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Research
People everywhere have become safety-obsessed. Sixty-three percent of the Reimagined [consumers] think it's crucial that companies/brands actively promote healthy practices, versus 32% of the Traditional. The Reimagined indicate that this priority will not go away after the pandemic is over; they want to be confident that every business will strive to be part of a health-oriented ecosystem that can overlay their lives.

Accenture's "Life Reimagined" consumer insight is not about wokism. It's about understanding the role commitments and investments in care can impact business outcomes.

Homebuilders as business scions and as cycle-tested operators and as canny dealmakers and as strong reputation-generators can take a great deal of pride of what they know, and draw wisdom from that experience as they grit their way through months of economic upheaval ahead.

What more customers will be looking for – as gatekeepers of whether one builder or another or none at all get their opportunity at an inventory turn – is not just how much they know, but how much they care.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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