A new report shows that the Trump Organization has seen a massive drop in revenue, worth only 10 percent of what is was back in 2010. One lesson: Don't be satisfied with the value of a brand, as what is here today can be gone tomorrow.
There have been signs that Trump's main business, a privately owned corporation, was facing troubles. Not only has his time in office shown bad management skills, but there were already suggestions that Trump's real estate business had taken a big hit after his political success. His company has been clobbered over his personal politics because it leans so heavily on his personal brand.
Up until recently, the Trump Organization ranked third on Crain's list of largest privately held companies. Now it's down to number 40. And before anyone yells "fake news," this is based on a required federal filing in which the company had to list annual revenue.
According to Crain's New York Business, an examination of some federal filings by the company showed claims of between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue. That's nothing to sneeze at in general. It makes The Trump Organization a solidly middle market company -- those with annual revenues from about $10 million to $1 billion. However, that's not considered a major company.
That leaves companies like Vice Media, Goya Foods, and Publisher's Clearing House as larger.
New York is hardly the only location Trump plays in, but it's probably the most important. The hotel and luxury condo markets -- two major concentrations for Trump's company -- are oversaturated, Crain's said.
Since 2008, the hotel room supply has grown by 50 percent, not counting Airbnb alternatives. The number is expect to continue grown, as is the number of new condo units being built (9,000 in Manhattan since 2008). When supply goes up and demand doesn't keep pace, prices drop. And the golfing market isn't necessarily going well either.
And golfers are shunning the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, where revenue through mid-September had fallen by more than $1.1 million in the past two years, to $5.7 million, amid a 16% drop in rounds played.
But market practicalities aside, there are also political reasons, which cross into brand considerations. New York City, for example, went heavily Democratic in last year's election and many bitter feelings remain.
The problem for Trump is that he's leaned heavily on claimed values of his personal brand when calculating net worth. Forbes determined that Trump's exaggerations doubled his actual net worth. Many of his real estate deals have actually been licensing his name. It's still a way to make money, but one that depends on the vagaries of name perception.
Perhaps at one time, with the height of his reality television appearances in The Apprentice, the monetary pull of his name was greater. But those days are gone, along with the settlement of the lawsuits over Trump University. The brand has been badly tarnished as his popularity rating remains near historical lows for a president, even with some rebound in September.
All monetary value is ultimately determined by markets. If people will only pay $10 for a product, you can't reasonably say that it's worth $20. Intangible property, of which brands are a type, compounds the potential issue with far more volatility. Today's high can be tomorrow's low.
If you want to build a financial future for a company, you need something that people will value aside from a name. Have a product or service that delivers a result people want and let the brand be the icing on the cake.