Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963), arguably one of America’s finest and most beloved poets, received four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. My favorite is The Road Not Taken (1915). Many literary scholars and critics have suggested that the work promotes the concept of individualism, a common theme for Frost. While I do not disagree with that analysis, I believe that this poem is also a discourse on the topic of “choices”.
We are all faced with many choices every day of our lives. Many of our personal choices are minor and of insignificant impact upon our daily lives such as what we choose to eat for breakfast or which clothing we chose to wear today. Other choices have some impact, although perhaps not of great significance in the overall scheme of the world, such as which car we choose to purchase as a better option could later make itself available and we then may regret our decision for several years. And other choices may have lasting impact on our lives such as the decision on who we marry (or not marry), whether we go to college and, if so, what college we select, or which profession we choose to pursue. In the homebuilding business, however, all choices are significant and have long term impact on success and profit.
As we teach in the IRM courses, there are four variables that impact the success of a residential development – Place, Product, Promotion and Price. And a fifth variable, People, is equally significant. These five “Ps” are the choices from which we decide where to build, what to build, how to create traffic and sales and what price we can justify to the marketplace to yield the required profit from our homebuilding operations. If these choices are made intelligently and professionally, based on research and the resulting strategic plan designed to satisfy indicated demand by creating a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that optimizes our potential for success, we have chosen wisely.
However, while our personal choices in life may often be fixed, our choices in the homebuilding industry are usually not immutable. If our homes are not selling at the desired price or pace then we need to reexamine our choices. If we have made the wrong choices and are willing to recognize those errors, we have the opportunity to choose again and, this time, choose correctly. Every community, every residential operation, every homebuilding business must regularly be reexamined with a view toward the current economic, market and competitive conditions. Many components have most likely changed since we made our original assumptions and decisions and now new choices must be made regarding the five “Ps”. Do we need to adjust the location (or at least the presentation and perception thereof)? Do we need to revise or refine the product? Do we need to adjust the marketing or promotion? Do we need to re-motivate and retrain or even, perhaps, replace the sales team? Do we need to adjust the price or enhance the value?
Poor choices remain as poor choices only so long as we do not recognize the potential of better decisions and seek out those better ways. Let us all remain open to examining the implications of the path not taken for perhaps now is the time to choose the other path.
There is a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at the end of the movie where Donovan, one of the men working for the Nazis, must choose from among several chalices with one, The Holy Grail, containing a drink that provides the gift of eternal life. The villain chooses the wrong chalice, drinks and dies to which the Grail Knight guarding the chalices comments simply, “he chose poorly”, referring not only to the cup selected but also to his path through life. I would hope that all of us in the homebuilding industry take the time to research and fully consider the impact of our choices, choose wisely, and when we have chosen wrong make a better choice the next time. But that’s just my opinion.
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