Going ahead but ready to pivot

For now, planners move forward with Parade of Homes

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Making business decisions on company events can be difficult in a normal year. Add a pandemic — and the pressure of an event making up nearly 50% of the operating budget — and the difficulty multiplies.

The Madison Area Builders Association (MABA) found itself in just this situation as Executive Director Chad Lawler, the board of directors, and the Parade of Homes executive committee navigated the details of whether or not to cancel the 70th annual event scheduled for June 19–28. “We had one final meeting with every single builder, executive member, and board member,” Lawler explains. “It was nearly unanimous that they wanted to move forward with it and pivot later if necessary.”

The weight of this final vote was spurred by the contracts mandating that builders turn over the homes to owners on a specific date. Delaying the event was not an option.

At press time, MABA has made the decision to move forward with the marketing spend for the event, add a virtual tour option, and hold the event with added safety precautions. Along with reserving the first hour for attendees who are elderly or have health conditions, MABA has added daily sanitation protocols, continuous disinfection at each site during event hours, one-way traffic patterns, site attendance limits, and an online system for more distance between the ticket takers and attendees.

“We’ve added as much technology to this event as humanly possible,” Lawler states.

These technological additions have accelerated the planning process for the organization. “We purchased the equipment to do 360-degree tours of every house,” Lawler explains. “We were looking to do that for 2021, but we moved up the schedule to give people the chance to see the houses and the craftsmanship if they aren’t able to see it in person.”

Justin Temple of Temple Construction believes Lawler and his team have worked well within this year’s constraints. “I think our staff at MABA has done a tremendous job of listening to their members and making the appropriate changes to the event to protect the public consumers and also the builders and their staff working this event,” he says.

This year the marketing will shift focus from promoting the event to promoting the builders and developers. Even though the event won’t hit the numbers the organization had originally set, it’s more important for MABA to protect its stakeholders. “At the end of the day, if the builders and developers aren’t successful, we won’t have a 71st Parade of Homes. We have to ensure those individuals can benefit as much as possible and stay in business,” Lawler observes.

As the event date gets closer, Lawler and his team will continue to evaluate this decision. They will be watching the metrics mandated by Gov. Tony Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan and will move forward accordingly. “We understand the current situation and realize that we need to be flexible and nimble.”

For updates on the event, visit madisonparadeofhomes.com.

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