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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.
Designing a new elevation series is a lot of fun. It is an opportunity to define your brand and create homes that will speak to buyers emotionally. Here are three things to look out for when your elevations are in the sketch phase:
One of the requirements in Lean Operations is harnessing the “Voice of the Process.” Your processes can teach you so much and hence save you a lot of cash … IF you know how to get them to talk to you. How do you do that? Metrics, of course, but usually not the old tired ones that don’t provide much illumination. You have to dig a little deeper. Here is a great example. How many of you have ever looked at the ratio of how much business you do under VPO (Variance Purchase Order) vs.
So apparently there is something Republicans and Democrats can agree on: the housing industry is an easy target. The latest proposal from both Senate Democrats and House Republicans to pay for the extension of the payroll tax cut calls for extra fees to be tacked on to what Fannie and Freddie charge lenders.
A new study (by Yahoo Real Estate, Dec 9th 2011) finds that the American Dream is still to own a home and the top issue for that dream is that it is a green, energy-efficient home built with sustainable materials that yield a lower carbon footprint or if it is remodeling a home, that it has energy-efficient appliances and eco-friendly home products. http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/yahoo-study-american-dream-homes-turn-green.html
Quality, criteria and requirements apply everywhere even when considering tablets, hardware and software. Overall requirements to consider: ACCESS Wi Fi or 3G, Speed and Offline REVIEW & MARK UP Finger, pen or both PHOTO ATTACHMENT Ease, compression, multiple images COMMUNICATE Speed, simplicity, reliability, offline NEW RECORD Tracking, follow ups, reminders, priorities, live knowledge capture STORAGE Record size and compression, versioning  
When we look into our car’s rearview mirror we see where we have been, as well as the distant horizon; the vanishing point of times past.  In the home building industry’s rear view mirror, I gladly see the depths of home building’s bottom slipping over the horizon.  What makes me think so? First, many sectors of the economy and their metrics are undeniably improving - employment, consumer spending, household formations, and most importantly, consumer sentiment.  A long time ago, I remember doing a detailed study which plotted numerous economy and industry data p
This month we named our Remodeler of the Year — Anthony Home Improvements in Elkins Park, Pa. We chose the company for a number of reasons, but reason No. 1A is the company’s ability to adapt to a changing climate, something many firms have struggled to do.
  Todd Hallett does a great job helping us to understand the tremendous costs associated with inefficient, poorly designed plans.  Making plans more sustainable (or green) is simply combining as many of those sound design principles as possible into one efficient design.

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