|#11 Company Reference|
|Benicarló, Spain, 2013-2015|
Housing development & real estate company
5 team members
Around 90 construction workers before the 2008 World Crisis
The financial condition of any housing development company at the end of 2013 in Spain was utterly catastrophic. Those that had not disappeared were bankrupt or very close to it. Not a single crane was lifting materials to build anything. The banking crisis had dragged many economic sectors, especially the construction industry, into ruin.
In that context, a family-owned housing development and real estate company had lost all hope of being able to save the company from bankruptcy. Bank debt was unaffordable, and the government subsidies granted for social housing construction had been lost. Needless to say, not a sign of a single customer anywhere. Therefore, the newly built and fully equipped 235-apartment housing development remained untouched, without a single family living there. Besides, the dwellings that remained to be sold (35%) in another development were in the same situation, even though their location was less than 100 meters from the beach in a very tourist destination on the Levantine coast (Benicarló-Peníscola).
In that context, the business owner faced an unsolvable situation in which the only feasible option was to declare the company insolvent and give it all up for lost.
However, hearsay brought the business owner a chance. Someone with a “peculiar” methodology was nearby and it could be a chance to refloat the company.
With no cash, zero possibility of bank credit, a huge debt that could not be dealt with, and a disruptively collapsed market with no customers in which the alleged partners (banking sector) had become the most formidable competitors, the strategic key used was the development of "emotional energy focused on prestige." Nonetheless, the source of emotional energy, which is people, was depleted and out of hope.
Hence, the very first step was to make the management team believe that the business had an opportunity, which could only be reached if they became a “powerful engine of positive emotional energy.”
However, the emotional challenge was not the only approach. Selling (assuming it was possible) without a profit would make it impossible to repay the financial debt and, therefore, the entire effort would be useless. But construction in Spain during the years of the "real estate bubble" was carried out with no expense spared. Now, with a market without customers nor the possibility of financing, how could dwellings be sold while covering costs corresponding to a totally gone economic model? Will emotion management be enough?
Let’s do it!
The first premise was to create a profound awareness that emotion management does not have shortcuts. It is, in the end, energy, which cannot be deceived. In other words, the company managers were compelled to generate truly authentic positive mental dynamics by converting pessimistic habits and thoughts into positive ones. It will be easy to understand that, in the context before described, this can be considered as the “mother of all challenges.”
The situations that put the strategy to the test were countless, though an example may be illustrative enough. Imagine month after month telling the banks “we cannot pay,” not even the smallest expenses while working, day after day, on managing individual behaviors. Meanwhile, not a sign of any customer. Unexpectedly, a customer enters the office. Of course, everyone in the team gazing at him, which create a dense atmosphere; not the ideal to sell anything, much less a house. When the interaction came to the point of telling the price, the reaction was withering: -What are you thinking, guys! With the crisis and you with these prices... Of course, the customer marched away outraged, hurling expletives.
After such a situation, the normal team’s reaction could be to abandon any expectation of success.
On the contrary, the team members redoubled their efforts to adopt habits and behaviors1 that would generate genuine trust, allowing them to know the expectations2 of the few customers who were likely to come in. Any desire to sell was abandoned and replaced by a genuine effort to listen broadly3 and profoundly to customers.
The First Expectations Mapping
The first mapping of prospective customers’ expectations permits to see clearly what they actually were expecting. Nevertheless, the dwellings were already built and equipped with no possibility for financing any kind of overhaul to adapt them to meet the recently known expectations.
However, it was possible to tailor all interactions with potential customers to their expectations. So, according to the customer’s profile, it was decided which product to show and how to do it, taking care of the minor details that could impact the emotional perception. The subjacent principle was, in fact, pretty basic: creating a positive emotional impact from the very first moment, taking special care of those aspects directly related to the perception of trust, such as positive and balanced energy, mastering customer’s expectations although explained in their words, or focusing on listening to understand their expectations taking care of having no intention to sell.
Transforming the Context
One year later, despite the tremendous effort made by the team members to embrace emotional management, the mood in society was deeply pessimistic. The question was: What can we do if people fear economic conditions? The answer to that question was quite bold: Let’s help people to face the hostile economic atmosphere. And this is how the first competitiveness program for local retailers began, thereby increasing the amount and intensity of positive emotional energy in the context.
On December, 2015 a period of extraordinary complexity in every sense came to an end. All the difficulties, which no one knew how to face, taught us some important things. First, that complexity is only a matter of perspective since now, with the housing of one development almost entirely sold -with the expected profit margin- and with more than 80% of the other development rented - at the price anticipated prior to the financial crisis-, what seemed impossible was only impossible because the way to deal with it was unknown. The second conclusion is that prolonged exposure to continued intense emotional exhaustion requires adequate recovery.
Besides, from the perspective of the methodology employed to conduct this case,4 it was clear that adequately managed emotional energy is a powerful tool to face the severe conditions of hypercompetitive contexts whether they are generated by evolving market conditions or by the impact of unexpected crises.
Figure 1: Emotional Perception Scale.
1 The Prestige Behavioral Matrix, which is the core of the Executiveness method suggested by syncplexity, was the foundation of emotional management.
2 The Emotional Perception Scale determined the key for the success of the strategy, by differentiating needs from expectations.
3 The broad listening process was performed in all its parameters.
4 The methodology used by syncplexity is the Expansive Emotional Influence.