3 Questions for a Custom Builder Staying Busy Through a Pandemic

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends

  • Date:

    June 17, 2020

3 Questions for a Custom Builder Staying Busy Through a Pandemic

Industry Trends

It’s been a tough three months. But the home and building category, like many industries, is finding its footing in the wake of an unprecedented pandemic. From rekindled residential home sales to positive remodeling microtrends, most signs indicate that the comeback is beginning.

So, how has COVID-19 affected custom homebuilders? How is it impacting their day-to-day business, and are they adapting to the new challenges?

For answers, I went to a recognized expert and thought leader in the industry. Matt Risinger is CEO and chief builder of Austin-based Risinger Build, a custom homebuilder and whole-home remodeler focused on building science and fine craftsmanship.

1. How would you describe the trajectory of this pandemic since it started in March?

    Nobody denies this is a crazy time to be in business. But here in June, just when we might expect the situation to start feeling more stable, things are only getting odder.

    A few short weeks ago, we were all on lockdown and uncertain about the future. Today, I’d say we have more of a 60/40 split when it comes to personal perspectives and current responses to the crisis — and it’s hard to know which side people will land on.

    I have some trades who live paycheck to paycheck. They haven’t missed a day of work, and they’ll tell you they don’t understand all the fuss. Meanwhile, while some of my clients are still in severe lockdown mode, others are saying, “Matt, COVID was SO two weeks ago. Let’s get back to normal.”

    It’s a wild ride out there.

    2. How have your customers responded to an uncertain landscape in 2020?

      I live and work in tech-heavy Austin, Texas. I’m not sure if it’s a bubble, but all the prospects I had in my pipeline pre-COVID, with the exception of one, have moved forward. I’m a contractor who generally works on cost-plus projects. This means architects refer new business to me, and I often see a big spike in potential new project interviews in January and February, right after the holidays.

      For whatever reason, I’ve seen that same spike during the last few weeks, right here in early summer. I’ve scheduled way more interviews than normal for this time of year. Bottom line, people still want to build or renovate their home despite all the bad news.

      I think the fact that the current crisis didn’t stem from underlying economic issues (like we saw in 2007–2008) makes a big difference. The customers who were planning to build or remodel are saying, “Let’s get going!” Builders who can mobilize to meet this demand have a real opportunity.

      3. Are your manufacturer partners adjusting to reach their audience in different ways?

      I run a media production company called Build Productions, which produces The Build Show on YouTube and BuildShowNetwork.com. Manufacturers we work with have gone into overdrive to produce new web content. They understand that trade shows and in-person events will be on hold for a while, so they’re moving a chunk of their budgets to online content.

      It’s been a tough year all around, as everyone’s shifting gears to keep up with changing conditions or just stay afloat. I’m proud of my partners who’ve made quick, smart moves to reach their customers. I’m proud of my employees and subcontractors who’ve never worked harder on the jobsite to deliver a great product.

      I realize I’m in a unique spot as a builder and media company owner. I feel blessed that even in times of crisis, my team stays busy and maintains a full pipeline for the future. My thoughts and prayers are with the contractors who aren’t in the same boat.

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