Charlie Munger, renowned associate of Warren Buffett and a luminary in the business world, recently passed away. Given his passing, there has been much made about Charlie’s insights. Among his more famous concepts are his three rules for a successful career. I’ll share rules two and three briefly so as not to keep you hanging, but this story will be about the first rule.
Rule #2 – Don’t work for anyone you don’t respect and admire.
Rule #3 – Work only with people that you enjoy.
Charlie Munger's First Rule for a Successful Career:
RULE #1 – Don’t sell anything that you would not buy yourself.
Pretty self-explanatory, right? Is it really that simple and do you trust that companies you engage with are able to live up to this value?
For us at The Lifestyle Group, this means standing behind products that we believe in, products that will perform, add value, and stand the test of time for our clients.
Lessons from Experience:
In our almost 25-year journey, we’ve learned valuable lessons about how to assess the key characteristics of the products we offer, as well as assessing the manufacturers and their distributors that provide those products to us. Make no mistake, in our early years we learned several of these lessons the hard way.
One painful example revolves around the early iterations of luxury vinyl plank flooring. While presented to us initially as a durable option, we encountered issues on a project in the early days that compromised the client’s satisfaction. Rather than persisting with a problematic product, we made the decision to cease selling it, replacing it with a different product entirely and prioritizing the long-term well-being of our clients.
Our experiences have taught us 4 loosely held rules related to the products we sell:
Our Product Philosophy:
At The Lifestyle Group, we only want to sell products proven to perform in the marketplace. They don’t have to be the most expensive option, but they generally are not the least expensive option either. We once completed a flooring project where our client provided the flooring products they wanted installed and we could barely get the floor installed without all of the pieces breaking as the floor went together. Given that, it’s important to understand that we want to offer products that are known to last. Durability is a key component to our product assessment process.
Navigating Product Choices Based On Your Unique Circumstances:
Selecting the right products is crucial, especially considering the diverse needs of our clients, but we cannot underestimate the importance of client circumstances, such as how long do you plan to be in the home? A homeowner who plans to sell in less than a year does NOT need top of the line carpet for the next buyer. Conversely, a family in a very expensive home cannot go cheap on new countertops in the kitchen or it will be a deterrent for future homebuyers. There is a balance between product selection, how long you will be in the home, price point of the home and a variety of other factors.
Partners Are Important:
Have you ever purchased a good product from a terrible partner? If you have, you will know that getting the quality product is only half the equation. We have had multiple instances over our many years where product partners put us in a terrible situation with our end user. We’ve flown to Florida, rented a U-Haul and driven product back ourselves and we have converted 2 less expensive shower projects to nice tile showers on our dime solely based on partners not fulfilling their obligations in getting their products to us in a timely manner (and having it arrive to us “undamaged”). When those situations occur from the perspective of the client, you quickly understand the value of the remodeling partner relationship.
To pause for a quick moment, ask yourself of all the partners you have worked with over your many years, how many product providers have ever gone to the length of costly product upgrades or making trips out of state to try to make your experience better? If you have had a partner do that, you best hold onto them for dear life!
Building Trust through Product Education:
To build trust with our clients, we make a conscious effort to educate them on product choices. During project presentations, we discuss different product options and their pros and cons, allowing clients to make informed decisions based on their preferences and needs.
A phrase you will hear us say often to our clients:
“WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SPEND. WE WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND ALL OF YOUR OPTIONS AND THEN WE TRUST YOU WILL KNOW HOW YOU WANT TO SPEND YOUR MONEY ON THIS PROJECT!”
One Final Comment On Product Philosophy:
At The Lifestyle Group, our commitment is not just to sell a series of individual products that culminate in a final product like a kitchen or bathroom renovation; it’s about offering a seamless process, trusted interactions, and lasting relationships. We firmly believe that our MOST IMPORTANT product is the PROCESS and not just the end result; it’s the entire journey. The quality of materials is an important piece of the process, but secondary to the satisfaction our clients derive from their transformed spaces.