(As published earlier on the CircularCity website) It only took a weekend. In two days’ time the inventory of the C1000 supermarket around the corner had been replaced by a completely new Albert Heijn interior. From a totally filled building to an empty space to a new interior within 48 hours. This provider specialized in the delivery and assembly of these shop interiors. No, the building itself he never touched, he told me. He was happy to leave that to fellow contractors who work for investors.
Have you ever done this kind of work for houses, I asked him? “No, I never have”, he said, “but that is a great idea. In fact, that is a huge business opportunity! Thanks very much for the tip.” In Japan, people would find this a strange conversation. Because for years, it has been quite normal that suppliers are specialized in the fit-out for homes and do business directly with the end-user. What do you think will be the gain for you as a provider, for the end-user and for the circular economy?
In case you have missed the previous blog, we are challenging you as a provider to redefine your field and revenue from scratch. This will enable you to grow into a provider of overall solutions in one of two markets:
- Either you work for investors (B2B) and offer them a complete base building, including maintenance and management. You will find more about your benefits in this scenario in the previous blog.
- Or you work for the end-user (B2C) and only offer the inside of the building, the fit-out. That’s what this blog is about.
As I said, in Japan this division of base building and fit-out has been a rule for years. A statutory rule even. Japan’s Longlife Housing Act of 2008 stipulates that the government only contributes to the construction costs when the base building will demonstrably last for two hundred years and the fit-out can be easily replaced without damaging the building or burdening its neighbors. Thanks to this political decision, Japan has new rules and a new way of working has resulted in some 600,000 homes already.
A large provider of fit-outs is Haseko. I was there in June, on a working visit and wrote a blog about it. On the Haseko site you will find complete apartments inside residential buildings just as a customer may have ordered them. But beware! May have ordered, and not an order selected from a standard catalogue, because you can actually order anything you like. As a customer, you simply walk through the house to see and experience if everything is okay and is working as you had imagined beforehand. Only after that you decide whether you really want to buy it. If so, then Haseko delivers within six weeks and takes a week to build in the fit-out. When you are buying a completely new house, then delivery will take more than a month longer (following licensing). Before that, another provider delivers the base building with its foundation, structure, façade, roof and utility connections to your own entrance door or front door.
The advantages for you as a specialized provider of fit-outs are numerous:
- You will work directly with the customer: the end-user of your product. You will help this end-user to clearly state his needs and questions because you are the building expert. What does he or she need to live and work in in an environment that supports health and well-being? A question you have the perfect answer to in layout, fit-out and the best materials.
- On the basis of this question, you present a plan and execute it. You are a 100% in control of the quality you offer. And through management and maintenance you will stay involved.
- You can innovate directly, based on the questions and feedback from your customers: you know and define your market. Parts that are returned due to user adjustments, you can reuse. Valuable materials you can market again.
- You will start working more systematically = more efficiently = cheaper and at the same time you can continuously improve your quality. Your customers will stay with you and will become your ambassadors for life.
- Your expertise on materials will bring you money, because you keep good record of what you put in and how and when you can best recover materials for reuse or recycling.
In this new set-up you can finally deliver what makes your customer really happy and what he is willing to pay for. You have so much more influence on the quality and profitability of the product you’re delivering. And, you are making a valuable contribution to the circular economy. Pretty soon our politicians will understand that we have to change the Dutch rules so that building subsidies really help the circular economy and your entrepreneurship.
What do you need?
What exactly do you need as a contractor to grow into a specialized provider of fit-outs in the circular economy? Please, share your ideas below with us and ask your questions so that we can take new steps together.
To your performance in end-user’s welfare.