Blogs



Trade partners have used the National Housing Quality Award over the years as an application process to gain independent feedback on how they can improve their bottom-line and the criteria as a way to evaluate their own processes. Trades have used the NHQA to create fewer callbacks, lower cycle times and better overall quality.  Best practices include:
Remodeler winners of the National Housing Quality Award over the years cite a range of best practices that helped them to achieve this level of excellence. This includes the following as just a few.
For years the building industry has been focused on sealing the holes in our homes to prevent air infiltration. Initially our concerns focused on improving energy efficiency by containing all our conditioned air within the building envelope.  Builders at all levels are doing a much better job closing the gaps in walls than we were doing 10 years ago.  The question I am asked today centers not on then need to close the gaps, but “How tight is too tight?” 
Many people today still see quality as being about 'incremental improvement' rather than innovation and fast dynamic change and particularly those focusing on six sigma tend to see it as being about 'defect reduction/elimination' only. It is good to go back to the original source and for quality that means going back to Deming. Consider these points for how you run your business. Deming considered that quality starts in one place, top management and it cannot be delegated.
In the past year, during our LeanPlan Workout process, we had the dubious honor of “working on” plans from 3 of the biggest name, most expensive architectural firms in the country (among others.)
One of the benefits of working with builders and customers all over the country is that I get a real grasp of what is happening with design trends. For the longest time it seemed everyone wanted a second floor Laundry Room. The logic was that all if all of the bedrooms (including the Owner's) are upstairs then that is where the Laundry should be. Here are some of the supporting points to that logic:
This short video wonderfully highlights key quality issues that impact the Cost of Quality and avoid risk. It is ideal for introducing quality, risk management or for opening a discussion, presentation or training on quality. http://asq.org/audit/106287/web.html?shl=106287&WT.dcsvid=MjI0MzEyNzg1NQS2&WT.mc_id=EM117917
Michael J. Fox and I have something in common (besides the obvious – talent, good looks, irreverence, witty repartee, etc.)  We both have an incurable “condition.” Fox has Parkinson’s disease, a well-known affliction that continues to ravage his body despite an astounding amount of medical research dedicated to discovering a cure.  My condition is a rare one called Alport’s Syndrome, a genetic fluke that resulted in total kidney failure nearly 12 years ago.
Happy New Year! IBS 2012 is going to be great. Unlike recent years past there is a distinct feeling of optimism going into this event. A lot of builders are looking at this year as an opportunity for growth. If you haven't already considered using Lean as a platform for this growth - do. It will allow you to maximize profits and optimize the marketability of your homes.
With so many definitions of energy efficiency, it is often difficult to pin down what that means.  For the most part, a consumer defines energy efficiency in dollars and cents, based on their particular lifestyle.  For a builder, we hope it is the same, but as builders we often select items that require a compromise on the part of the consumer to achieve energy savings goals.
  Perhaps you heard the story in December about the truck driver that won a Lamborghini Murcielago LP-640 worth over $200,000. A few hours after getting the car he crashed it! http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/truck-driver-wins-lamborghini-crashes-hours-later-220724449.html
Netflix loses 60% of its market and RIM (Blackberry) also loses over 50% of its market, not a great year for what had been some of the strongest companies. They certainly never planned for such an impact at the start of 2011. What happened, well the customer spoke! Both losses are included amongst the ‘worst CEOs of 2011’ listings. This presents some great insights to critical business failures this year. There are excellent lessons to be learnt from these failures. For more information follow this link.
One of the advantages of consulting with businesses across the US is you see the companies that get it and the many companies that don’t. Sometimes observing the companies that will never understand the formula for sustained success can be very valuable. These companies take on values and beliefs that are easy to identify as the foundation of their lackluster performance but they haven’t a clue nor do they want to get it.
I love the easy ones! Scott Sedam and I were implementing a Lean Plan Workout recently and a very simple cost saving opportunity presented itself. Eliminate the tire stop in the garage. A tire stop is an area of raised curb in the garage designed to remind drivers to stop once they are in their garage. The argument is that if they really need this reminder maybe they should not be behind the wheel in the first place.    
Last weekend was the annual Christmas sojourn to my wife’s relatives in Chicago. On the obligatory trip downtown to Marshall Field’s to see the Christmas decorations, visions of credit card slips danced in my head as my wife and daughter pursued something precious that surely could not be found elsewhere. As they searched, my mind naturally turned to thoughts of Lean, rather how much waste I could find in the store’s products and processes. Yes, it is an obsession. Then my eyes fell upon this plaque, something that Marshall Field himself wrote in the 1800’s.  I took this snapshot.
This December marks my glorious return to selecting products for new home construction. For three years, I have worked with TrueNorth Development bringing Trade Partners and Builders together to better understand the pain caused by their relationships and developing methods to overcome these instances of wasted effort.  Oftentimes, the discussion turns to products and what is the best product to use in a given construction circumstance.  The range of products and sustainable nature of these products is a discussion point in many settings.
Learning from the past and planning for the future. As we move toward 2012 we have a wonderful opportunity to evaluate what happened this past year, where we were successful and how and where did we fail. Both provide lessons for our 2012 planning.
Most small to mid size builders today have found themselves without any internal professional Human Resource function. Either that function was a casualty of the many layoffs over the last 5 years or it never existed to begin with. The builders, who remain in the game today, are alive because they utilized situational leadership during these tough economic times and focused on cost cutting, raising capital and finding that next buyer not employees.
December is often the time of year that many home building companies finalize their 2012 goals and budgets.   Management meticulously reviews past sales performances, hard costs, personnel budgets, etc., and set both goals and budgets for 2012.   Once each line item is discussed and approved, these bugeteers ask managers to sign off on this plan as their commitment to 2012 excellence.  Seldom do we see customer satisfaction goals handled with this same degree of foresight and commitment.  Why is this?
Greening your marketing plan requires a different thought process and action plan than what you might expect.  In the upcoming months, I will be speaking at the International Builder Show in Orlando on this very topic.  Marketing plans are not necessarily about shouting from the rooftops about how green you are in the market place.  Consumers are much more savvy about new homes and building techniques than ever before and this requires you to be smart as well.

Pages

Email Subscriptions