“The overall purpose of a site visit is to reveal the truth about the organization and provide a thorough assessment.” Brown, Baldrige Award Winning Quality, 2005. You too can have such an impartial evaluation of your business by applying for the National Housing Quality Award. Take a look at the criteria and use it to evaluate your business, consider where you can improve your bottomline.
Professional Builder recently held a survey, and to quote Editor-in-Chief Dave Barista: "When it comes to selecting exterior design features and materials for their new homes, buyers are most concerned with the overall curb appeal of the home's exterior ... More than three-quarters of builder respondents (76.6 percent) said 'great design/curb appeal' was an important issue among their buyers."
The ACORN test is an easy to remember way to evaluate the charter of an improvement project. A  Accomplishment. Does the goal actually focus on results? C  Control.  Does the team have control of what is needed to implement and complete the project? O  Objective. Is the objective the ultimate achievement of the project or is it actually a sub goal? R  Reconciliation.  No other improvement teams have the same goals as your team and so there re no conflicts.
We can all relate to great leaders, but we may fail to note what makes them so.  Harry Truman is quoted as saying, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”  Such is the case with last year’s Professional Builder Magazine’s Builder of the Year, DSLD Homes and their leader Saun Sullivan who is a prolific reader.  His reading titles could be classified as the home building industry’s must read list, and he shares these gems with many (thanks Saun!).
“The stories, apocryphal or not, that circulate in an organization reveal its devotion (or lack of it) to quality, and serve to inspire its people to live (or not live) the quality message.” What stories are being told in your company? Tom Peters & Nancy Austin, A Passion for Excellence: The Leadership Difference, 1985
I have spoken at PCBC, the big West Coast building conference most of the past 15 years and I always enjoy it. The event has been very well-run, quality of programming is excellent, the staff is great and you can do a lot worse than hang out in downtown San Francisco for a few days. I have been there so many times that I know all of the streets and how to get around, walking or driving. I even have my favorite hotel and off-the-beaten-path restaurants. Yet as PCBC begins later this month, I will be on the other side of the country.
The title of this blog is tongue in cheek (or maybe foot in mouth) as a follow up to a blog I wrote a while back titled, "Second Floor Laundries are Just Stupid, or are They?"
"What we hear too often is, don't confuse me with the facts, I know what I want to do." Bill Denney PhD
Technology has made gathering data so much easier. However, the problem is we can be overwhelmed by it. Surveys, stats, city, state and national data sources can be accessed and reams of paper can be printed to provide us with the information we need. But the key is interpreting that data, knowing how to use it, knowing what it is telling us. Where are the gaps in the market, what are price points that customers can afford etc. The key is to gather data and then analyze it and make decisions on that data, not on gut feel.
A young doctor was just setting up his first office when his secretary told him there was a man to see him. The doctor wanted to make a good first impression by having the man think he was successful and very busy. He told his secretary to show the man in. At that moment, the doctor picked up the telephone and pretended to be having a conversation with a patient. The man waited until the "conversation" was over. Then, the doctor put the telephone down and asked, "Can I help you?" To which the man replied, "No, I'm just here to connect your telephone."
This week's installment of Charlie Scott on Customer Satisfaction in Home Building questions how new houses are delivered to customers.  Admittedly this entry is a bit cryptic, and you will have to study it, but hopefully this cryptic analogy will bring some clarity to your home building company's delivery process.  Clearly, there is no one "right" way to deliver homes to customers, but it is critical that a home building company deliver on all promises and meet (or exceed) the customers' expectations.  Bon appetit! 
The focus is the customer, it’s about their needs and wants. Sometimes when we try to improve our customer focus and we try to achieve a ‘wow factor’ we actually just add fluff, which at best is window dressing which doesn’t do any harm, but nor does it have benefit and it still adds cost and time. But in the worst case adding fluff can lose you a customer.
My son Tyler (second of 4 children), age 29, is taking a new position with a homebuilder after having two good building industry jobs in the past, both of which vanished in the housing recession. Despite the previous disappointments, he sees this as a great opportunity with a real chance to grow with a good company. It got me thinking about all the work I have done in my career, where I did well, where I screwed up, who I have hired, who I have fired, and all the people I have watched soar and those I have seen flame out.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a tool that can assist in identifying where your areas of risk lie and helps structure solutions.
Better bust out the Grey Poupon for this one. Turrets, steep roof, stone and stucco will drive up the cost per square foot a bit on this design. However, as I have mentioned in the past, Lean Design is not about cost, it is about value. Lean Design focuses on eliminating waste and providing maximum value for the customer through collaborative design. In a custom home scenario like this one, the collaboration happens with the customer, building team, architect and key trades and suppliers. Let's take a closer look:
Years ago, well after the huge productivity gains of the industrial revolution, employers still sought productivity improvement.  In an effort to find these productivity gains, many studies were conducted to find causes and effects of higher productivity.The most popular study was done at Hawthorne Works between 1924-32, where researchers tinkered with many variables, then measured worker output to see if their tinkering had the desired effect.  The most famous experiment involved slowly increasing the lighting – which resulted in higher output, however, this higher output
In 1989 Warren Bennis published ‘On Becoming a Leader’ which became a key leadership book. He stated that leaders “know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to fully deploy their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.” The key of course is compensating for weaknesses, not ignoring them. The honest study of the strengths and weaknesses of an organization should also be studied and again, the weaknesses compensated for, but not ignored.
A recent experience got me thinking about how companies all-too-often fall back on financial incentives when dealing with an unhappy customer, yet totally miss the point and fail to solve the problem. Allow me to explain: I’m a long-time reader of the Chicago Tribune, but a series of delivery problems from the paper never showing up to arriving hours after I left for work lead me to first cancel the daily paper, then, finally, to recently give up the ghost and cancel the Sunday as well.
The Belbin team roles are used to help create effective and balanced teams.  Few individuals are strong in all of these roles, so ensuring you have a good mix on a team can make a real difference. It also needs to be noted that each role has its own strengths and weakness.
The Brady Bunch is a font of life lessons from the importance of compromise to why you should never lie to your parents to ... uh ... never walk out in the backyard without keeping an eye out for a football. So once again I find myself turning to The Brady Bunch when it comes to dealing with the challenges of selling projects under the Lead Repair & Painting Program rule.


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