Friday, July 10, 2020

It’s Not the “New Normal”, It’s Simply Accelerated Innovation

2020 will always be remembered as the year COVID-19 forced a “New Normal” into our lives.

Things like wearing a mask without giving it a second thought along with social distancing and standing 6’ apart just about everywhere we go.

However COVID-19 was just the stimulus needed to bring about innovation faster than we expected. Working from home is becoming accepted for a lot of employer’s staff. Zoom and Skype have become household names. 4 months and our lives have been turned upside down.

Now we have to learn to live with all these changes and as everyone knows, change sucks!

Taking a closer look at some of these changes shows that what is becoming the “New Normal” was going to happen anyway but a much slower pace. 


We all love going to restaurants. You sit inside enjoying your meal while other tables right beside you are filled with others also enjoying their meals.

That was then, this is now.

Starting with buffets, something that may never come back, let’s take a look at what some of them are testing for your future visits. A few of the larger chains have begun exploring using cafeteria style lines where food will be dispensed from behind sneeze guards. 

In order to not make them look like your school cafeteria, they will get very creative with stand alone stations serving different selections with one or more servers taking your plate and giving you a portion. 

Personally not sure how this will go over with the old Golden Corral crowd but they will definitely have to adjust to these new innovations.

I would bet a lot of us have discovered the convenience of having our food delivered from our favorite restaurant by GrubHub, Uber Eats, DoorDash and other companies.

They were there before the virus hit but have skyrocketed since.

Now I’m hearing of major restaurant chains reinventing themselves as simply kitchens with no tables, wait staff and in fact, no restaurant at all. Just a kitchen preparing from a menu you order from and have delivered.

Can you imagine Longhorn Steakhouse simply having a kitchen in an industrial park next to a Texas Roadhouse’s kitchen, each sending full meals to your home by DoorDash.

Why bother building restaurants when you have a powerful name that can be marketed on social media? 

Grocery Stores

Getting in your car and driving to a supermarket was once the only way to buy groceries.

That was then, this is now.

Before COVID-19, PeaPod was delivering groceries to homes for the past 30 years. Amazon’s Whole Foods began delivering groceries a couple of years ago and Walmart and other grocery store chains began using their website to allow customers to order online, the store’s staff to pick their order and take it to the customer’s car when they arrived at the store.

According to Supermarket News, look for major grocery store chains to not only take your order online, but also deliver it to your home and put refrigerated and frozen food away for you while you work. Walmart is already doing that.

Soon we may see Safeway deliver your grocery order much the same way UPS delivers packages.

I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what supermarket chains are planning for our future.

Viral Marketing

We were just beginning to understand this type of marketing when COVID-19 struck. It was a form of social media presence established retailers didn’t fully understand.

That was then, this is now!

Because COVID-19 forced state governments to close most retail stores, many were left with their website as the only way to reach customers. They tried to get people to visit their sites, buy merchandise and have it delivered.

Major retailers were getting quite good at this before the virus hit the retail industry and they saw online ordering simply take off astronomically.

But what about the smaller and even the single location retailer who didn’t have much of a presence on the Internet.

Enter Viral Marketing, which enables the smaller retailer the potential to sell its brand or product through messages that spread like a virus, in other words, quickly, and from person to person. The idea is for it to be the users themselves that choose to share the content. 

This is where the smaller modular home builder needs to be today. While the most ideal platform for your business to achieve viral attraction varies largely by industry and even generationally, the following have already proven to be the most effective ones to use.

• Facebook

• YouTube

• Reddit

• Twitter

• Instagram

• Pinterest

• LinkedIn

• Tumblr

• Answers

• Yelp

COVID-19 didn’t change everything. It just hastened the evolution of business on the path it would have taken anyway but it might have been another 5 or 10 years before we got to where we are today.

So buckle up Buckaroos, the next 12 months are going to be awesome!

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of the ModcoachNews blog and Modular Construction Industry Observer and Information Gatherer



  1. You forgot one industry - construction. The "new normal" will be for owners and GCs to move as much work offsite to controlled factory settings that can better monitor and ensure social distancing, check workers upon arrival and better ensure safe working conditions. So now we can add worker safety as another driving reason to shift to offsite - in addition to the need to address labor shortages, to expedite construction schedules, and to improve project quality.

  2. Your insights are on point, as always, coach. Our favorite restaruant in Maui is run by a 5-star chef, and has had no dining room for 5 years - take-out only. That was an early indication of where things are now headed. Another big impact that the 'work from home' phenom will have on our industry is that many apartment dwellers are now finding that their homes can no longer accommodate both their work life and home life. They will be scrambling for homes that can allow both. That 4-br home is now a 3br with a home office. And builders should consider using a Skype number or Facetime for video conferencing from the very first call. It's what buyers have wanted all along!

  3. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me.