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For the last several years Scott Sedam and I have been spreading the word about Lean design. Lean design is based on creating home designs that maximize marketability and profit while reducing construction waste. This is done through a collaborative design approach that involves the builder and the building team (including sales) as well as the builder’s trades and suppliers. It is a design approach that focuses on cost reduction while increasing aesthetics and overall amenities.
  It is amazing how quickly we can create a negative impression in the most of simple ways. The danger can be not having perspective, doing what has always been done or falling into the act of ‘processing a customer’ especially if we are busy or running out of time. Here are some things to avoid, yet are so common and make the customer feel you are not prepared or professional and therefore equate the experience to that they will encounter if they build a home with your company.
As an editor of one of the nation’s largest business publications covering home building, I’m frequently asked about the state of the housing market. Everyone from regional builders and product manufacturers to consultants and architects will ask: “What are you hearing from builders?” “Are we officially in a housing recovery?” “When will the market get back to peak levels?”
How are you listening to the Voice Of your Customer? A survey finds that 52% of organizations use 3 to 4 methods to gather VOC data and 22% as many as 7 methods! Only 5% rely on one source of VOC. The most common VOC data sources (in order of use) were:
Performance bonuses have been around the homebuilding industry for a long time.  Salespeople earn commissions and bonuses based upon their sales productivity, and Superintendents earn bonuses for their Quality, Budget and Schedule performance.  For the most part, customer satisfaction bonuses were left out of the equation…until that is…a particular marketing company decided to venture into the home building industry with their version of “Customer Satisfaction” awards.  Regardless of the accuracy or merits of that award program, it proved to be a performance bonus game change
Despite the current market and the recession these builders show how they have continued to improve, change and increase their bottom-line and create satisfied customers with high quality homes.  There are the four winners of the National Housing Quality Award this year, with awards in the Gold, Silver and Bronze categories, a great way to celebrate NHQA still going strong in its 20th year! Charter Homes, Gold Wayne Homes, Silver DSLD Homes, Silver Vintage Homes, Bronze
This year marks the 19th edition of the National Housing Quality Awards, the industry’s only recognition program dedicated to helping builders grow their businesses and become more profitable. During the past two decades, NHQ judges have evaluated and honored more than 100 builders and trade contractors for their quality management excellence. Of all the firms to win an NHQ Award over the years, only a handful have achieved every level of distinction (Gold, Silver, and Bronze), completing what the judges call the “quality journey.”
On a construction site a worker was grumbling to himself as he worked. “How is it going?” I asked. “What?........oh…..ah fine…..well…..do you know on how many jobs they keep doing this the same stupid way? I keep fixing this damn thing every week.
A roof can represent 10-25% of the cost of a building, 90% of improper installation procedures are covered from view upon completion of work and defects are not identified until leaks or other problems occur at a later date, which brings us to the fact that roof failures feature high in construction litigation. Bottom-line doing the job right the first time is the way to go! The most common deficiencies found in metal roof inspection are: (1) Fastener back out (2) Panel damage (3) Leaks (4) Seam defects (5) Missing or damaged fasteners
If there’s one common thread among the six builders featured in our article on fast-growing builders (“Big Gainers”), it’s the absolute importance of keeping the core team intact during the downturn. When the housing market started to crash in 2006, builders understandably kicked into survival mode. Many chose to let their most experienced and talented (and costly) employees go as part of their operations trimming process.
Every so often, when a number of positive changes occur right on top of each other, it makes sense to communicate them directly to you, our readers. This month, I am pleased to highlight several significant changes and improvements to Professional Remodeler magazine and HousingZone.com.
Sometimes it feels as though buildings are being designed without consideration of those that will occupy them. Thought always needs to be given to how the environment will be used. For example while visiting a business recently and having time before a meeting started I realized that despite the foyer, long corridors and areas to congregate there was no seating available anywhere including any benches along the walls. There was also no WiFi available, there was also very poor signage for restrooms and no water fountains existed.
A recent survey conducted by Deloitte entitled ‘Core Beliefs and Culture’ showed that culture creates strong business performance, it also showed a key disconnect between leaders and employees. Both “executives 94% and employees 88% believe that a distinct workplace culture is important to business success and  83% of executives and 84% of employees ranked engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s success.”
“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” - Eugene O'Neill Nothing brings up feelings of fairy tale romanticism about a home quite like a turret. With a soaring roofline and endless natural light, it is very easy to fall in love with a well done turret. In this plan the turret becomes a space within a space that is used for retreat. Let’s take a closer look:  
I have personally seen organizations that have used initiatives to drive service excellence and have created for example 98% customer satisfaction as a result. In each case it has been about creating a systematic approach.
$50k which was to be transferred from one business account to another was not actually completed. A client was given completely different instructions by 3 different representatives from the same office. A client was confidently informed, ‘not a problem just call us when you are ready and we can make that happen easily’. When the client returned the representative realized in fact that they couldn’t make the change at all.
Team sports analogies have long been used in home building for obvious reasons.  They both have the common component of individual performances that roll up into team results.  Home building is the ultimate team endeavor, made up of internal employees and external trade partners numbering into the thousands. Why is teamwork important in home building?  The answer is potent – customers' teamwork ratings are highly correlated to customer referring activity and future referral sales! 
This little plan has really been a high producer. It is simple to build, lean, and has great curb appeal. As a result this plan has sold very well for several builders.

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