Building Industry Trends to Watch in 2017

Prepare for Growth by Focusing on Four Key Opportunities

Being in the building industry means constantly adapting to a changing marketplace, evolving trends and new products. Although these things are what makes the industry exciting, they also require dealers to be that much more savvy in managing their business and identifying opportunities for growth.

There's no crystal ball dealers can look into in order to reveal their business's future, and there are no tea leaves that a dealer can read to answer all their questions about what is coming next. Instead, most dealers must look at their business objectively to assess areas where they can grow, and read between the lines to figure out what customers are looking for in today's market.

To help you prepare for the growth opportunities that 2017 brings, we've outlined several important trends that will have a major impact on the industry in the new year:

  1. Growth Opportunities in Products:

    Say the words "efficient materials" and many people in the building industry almost immediately make an association with energy efficiency. They're right to—expect the trend towards green building to continue in 2017 and beyond, as demand continues to rise for these products.

    But it's not only energy efficient products that represent a growth opportunity for dealers. It's cost-efficient, low-maintenance and even prefab products that continue to grow, too. Innovation in the building materials themselves is allowing for expanded design options and efficiencies. This applies to composite materials, new glass and glazing technologies and more. In fact, a survey by Architect Magazine found that almost 30 percent of respondents believe products that bridge the gap between being both renewable and durable (or low-maintenance) will significantly increase in importance over the course of the next five to ten years.

  2. Growth Opportunities in Services:

    The impact of the skilled labor shortages is still being felt in 2016, and we expect this will continue into 2017 and beyond. This presents a challenge for dealers, who may experience difficulty selling certain products without people to install them. It also, however, represents an opportunity. And it's an opportunity that more dealers are taking advantage of in recent years with the addition or expansion of installed sales departments.

    As more dealers make an installed sales push, they're finding they can turn this challenge into an opportunity for growth. Consider adding value with door pre-finishing, window and deck installation and other services that customers need to make their lives easier and ensure product and installation quality. While extra services may not be the answer for everyone, dealers will need to look at their marketplace, talk to their distributors and determine if it's the right decision for them.

  3. Growth Opportunities in Trends:

    Outdoor living continues to dominate the landscape for those in the building industry. (No pun intended.) In fact, it is unique in its ability to serve as a crossover between different parts of the industry. For example, you're just as likely to see outdoor living products at the International Builders Show (IBS) as you are at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)—it integrates across both.

    While outdoor living hasn't produced many new product categories—they're mostly the same products but simply integrated into a new setting—it nonetheless is a trend that has legs. Whether it's Millennials purchasing their starter homes, multiple generations living under the same roof, people with larger homes wanting to spend more time outdoors or even people buying into the tiny home trend, they share one thing in common: outdoor projects represent a chance to expand their living space and lifestyle.

  4. Growth Opportunities in Marketplace:

    Affordable housing will become an even bigger issue in 2017 than it has over the past few years. As the price of rent has grown, more and more people, including younger generations, have begun to realize they could spend the same amount on a mortgage for a house that will be theirs. Unfortunately, these buyers often enter the marketplace only to find the houses don't exist.

    Builders are already looking to address this, and as more of them do, they will need dealer partners who are ready, willing and able to take on this challenge with them. What can you bring to the table to take on this growth opportunity and become a resource for your builder customers? How can you address its impact in your marketplace or region? Dealers who can look ahead to answer these questions will find themselves poised for success well beyond the year 2017.

Trends come and go in the building industry—whether it's services, products or the general ebb and flow of the market—which is why it's that much more important for dealers to be able to identify the ones that represent true, long-term growth potential for their business.

In 2017, look to these four trends with staying power to create sustainable crystal ball required.

Articles in Forecast, Trends | December 01, 2016