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.
While Quality tools and techniques have been around for a long time and proven their worth I still see and hear situations that amaze me. For example a trade embraced quality and created checklists, inspection points, tracked problems, eliminated root causes meaning that fewer defects and call backs were occurring. This resulted in cost savings and improved customer satisfaction for his business. With pride therefore he described his approach to a new contractor he was seeking work from.
I travel this country meeting with builders virtually every week and between my monthly Professional Builder article, my weekly blog on HouzingZone.com and our Lean Building Group on Linkedin.com, I hear from many more. As housing is picking up in most parts of the nation, I am beginning to hear a lot about labor shortages. Just last week I received a note from a builder lamenting how in central Florida there is a bidding war for framers and drywall contractors. I have also heard it coming out of Texas.
'Of course I do', or so you say! But do you, would you really? I have been shocked over the years at the reaction to those who approach managers, bosses, leaders and owners with insights to what is happening in an organization, presenting them with gold, telling them what is wrong, how it can be improved. In some cases these have been very significant issues, ethical, legal and financial, only to have been dismissed, not believed, told to stop doing what they are doing or worse that they are the problem. Do you listen? Have you listened?
Todd Hallett and I are running a LeanPlan Workout session this week in Tennessee with one of my favorite builders. In the years I have known them they have grown from #11 in their market to #2 last year and this year there’s a good chance they will be #1. They are beating all the nationals. These guys truly “get it” and accomplished all this during the worst housing recession in history. As good as they are, they wanted to take it deeper, so this they engaged a total of 24 of their suppliers & trades to generate more than 300 ideas to improve plans, using our highly-structured process.
Whether you call them crickets or saddles, the little patch of roof that is bridging water past a chimney or other element obstructing water flow is one of the hardest things for most framers to get right on the roof. Why is this?
5W2H stands for 5 Ws and 2Hs or Who, What, When, Where, Whey How and How much. When working on improving a process this is a very simple tool to help you think thorough improvement opportunities. Who does this? This can lead to, could we do it with less people? What is done at this step? This can lead to, can we eliminate some of the steps? When does this start and finish? This can lead to, can we shorten the time it takes?
Readers may recall a study I did a few years ago attempting to identify the most reliable predictor of future new home sales activity. The closest predictor turned out to be the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Study (MCSS). The trick was that you had to adjust the MCSS data six months FORWARD to match new home sales. In other words, six months after MCSS started to improve, new home buyers feel confident enough to buy a new home.
After last weeks blog about the great match up of Lean and custom homes I received the following inspiring "boots on the ground" letter from reader and fellow Leanista Roger Bess: Todd,
The 5th article in my series on Quality Management was just published by Professional Builder Magazine and appears concurrently on www.HousingZone.com. It is titled “10 Steps to Mastering Field Quality” and at the end of the piece I offered a PDF with all 5 of the articles in a single document. I have since been deluged with more than 30 requests sitting in my mailbox just this morning. In my 15 years writing monthly for the building industry, this is the most requested article or series I have ever done with more than 100 requests to date.
Yes we are making lists again! Make two lists. In one list the elements of company cultures that you have experienced and liked. In the other list elements of company cultures that you experienced and did not like. So you may not have liked the bureaucratic approach in one organization, in another you valued their focus on training and development for example. When you are done, circle those issues in BOTH lists that you feel honestly reflect YOUR company culture now!
“It is leadership, that recognizes that structure and goals are not effective without the corresponding tactics and that neither will generate strong and positive business results without effective implementation.” Armand V Feigenbaum & Donald S Feigenbaum The Power of Management Capital 2003