Article by 2021 GHBA President Keith Luechtefeld, Shea Homes
Looking back through some of the articles I have written this year, I found a bit of a pattern. Almost all of them include a discussion about dealing with some type of challenge—from natural disasters to the COVID-19 pandemic, to working with government, to recruiting new workers into our industry, etc. I found myself asking, who do I think I am, some sort of expert?!?! Clearly, I do not consider myself an expert on much (on nothing if you ask my kids). With that said, I do have an opinion, and they make me write these articles every month anyway… so here I go again.
As I was looking for topics to cover this month, I stumbled across an idea on the National Association of Homebuilders website. In the article, it said that September was National Preparedness Month, “an official U.S. government awareness campaign on the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time.” I find that both interesting and timely, since Tropical Storm Nicholas is making landfall as I write this.
For those of us that have been here in Houston for a while, we know that hurricanes are just part of the landscape. There are times, like during Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Harvey, where the storm lives up to all the billing, blowing through with high wind like Ike or stopping and delivering significant rainfall like Harvey. At other times, you get Hurricane Ida, which made landfall the year after Ike. Personally, I had just moved my family to Houston before Ike hit, so when Hurricane Ida was in the gulf one year later, I was concerned. Both storms started with the letter ‘I’ and both had three letters (I didn’t say my concern was logical). Alright, so how many of you remember Ida? Likely no one, right? It mostly left our area unscathed.
With that said, the importance of preparing for a potential hurricane is never diminished. Even if Ida did not cause much damage, you never know which one will hit with a ferociousness that makes it scary. So be prepared. Your communities, your homebuyers, and your trades and employees deserve that. When you see that news forecast, and some storm is headed our way, make sure your employees and trades know where to go and what to do to keep themselves and the project safe.
But I have a bigger point. Being prepared doesn’t just mean preparing for natural disasters. Any number of outside circumstances might impact your business. Take COVID-19 for example. I am guessing very few of us were really prepared for that. My point is that preparedness shouldn’t just be about preparing for a hurricane. The question should not be, “How do I prepare for a (insert specific challenge here)?” The question should also be, “How do I prepare for anything?”
I realize it’s not possible to prepare for “anything,” but I do think it’s possible to prepare to react to anything. How do we prepare for that? We must be flexible, and we must be able to respond and make decisions. You also need to be prepared that some of those decisions will be wrong. That’s okay. Make another decision… and keep making decisions and acting until you navigate through whatever it is that has disrupted your business. In other words, “plan to make a plan.” That may sound odd, but the real point is that when something unexpected happens, you have to address it, you have to respond with action, and mostly, you have to be prepared to do so.
What does your company do? Are you prepared?