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So, they said we needed change. They said it would get worse before it got better. They said unemployment is decreasing. They said the rate of foreclosures was decreasing. They said there were signs we were in recovery from the recession. Now they say we are heading for ANOTHER recession. Well, we got change. They were right. It certainly got worse and hasn’t gotten better.
A hotspot is a recurring problem, by focusing on the top ranking hotspot with corrective and preventive action they can be reduced or eliminated allowing you to move to addressing the next ranking issue. These might be the top issues of customer complaints or top construction defects for example. The only way to know where your problems lie is to establish metrics to monitor your key processes. When you have a problem don’t just put a band aid on it, it will come back!
Here are some interesting results from a 2011 survey by the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. 
  Over my 30 years of working with senior leaders, I have seen the good the bad and the very ugly. It seems that any “C’ level person who has the privilege to put a “E” as their second letter in their title through a promotion automatically is hit with a cosmic ray from deep space that creates behavior that many times creates a lack of optimization in their workforce.   
Growing up near Detroit, I know that old plans are like old cars —sooner or later they start costing you more money than they are worth. It is tempting to hold onto a previous best seller and keep it in the system for no other reason than that you have the bugs worked out. The contracts are set, the variances are low, and the trades know what to do.
As I write this week’s blog on a plane from Detroit to Vegas, I happened upon an article in the Delta in-flight magazine about healthy eating and guess what? All the things we know about eating eggs and egg yolks, common knowledge learned during the 80’s and 90’s that persists to this day – are flat out wrong. Eggs do NOT raise your cholesterol. They are, in fact, a virtually perfect food, full of protein and raising HDL (good cholesterol) reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and helping keep a steady blood glucose level.
When we talk about sustainable home building we focus on energy efficiency and green. But another level of sustainable building is ensuring that every component of the home was locally or at least Made in the USA!  A local builder in Bozeman MT did just that. Follow this link to the story. http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/article_b6f5b70e-bfbe-11e0-89f1-001cc4c002e0.html  
The SMART acronym is an excellent way to evaluate your goals and objectives. Are they Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely Specific  means that the goal is clear and unambiguous. You will need to consider the following.
For a little less than two years, I led the 15th largest real estate brokerage firm in the US. It was an interesting departure from the day to day of home building consulting and it provided a real eye opener on the true relationship that exists between the builder and its broker sales arm. I also had the opportunity to look deeply into other large and small broker organizations through MLS boards and close networking affiliations. Here’s what I discovered.
I’ll get right to the point. Today’s business owners have lost a huge amount of loyalty, commitment and productivity from their employees. Leaders in the construction industry since 2007 have seen hundreds of experienced personnel either leave our industry or desperately hold tight onto their jobs while having to assume a 25% to 50% increase in scope of work with a reduced amount of compensation. As I talk to many professionals in our industry daily, I hear this common theme.  “I am stressed, burned out and my boss only cares about himself”
During the housing boom, new products were being introduced into the home building market at a staggering rate.According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (and oft-repeated by our columnist Mark Richardson), in a recent three-year period there were more products introduced than in the previous 100 years for the home building industry.
If you knew that were losing at least $5K per unit due to one single item of waste in your houses, would you do anything about it? How about $10K? The money is there, inarguable and undeniable, and we have the proof, yet a tiny percentage of builders understand it, let alone try to correct it. Even worse than that, most are afraid to confront it.
Disorganized and untidy job sites are covered with destroyed or damaged materials, reflect chaos between trades, reduce productivity and send the message to those homeowners beside and near your homes under construction just how their homes were built, not to mention are safety violation and injuries just waiting to happen. From another perspective, how much do you spend on marketing?
Headers, headers everywhere! Nearly every builder I have ever worked with (regardless of geography) initially had far too many headers and/or headers that were way oversized in their homes. Code requirements are typically 250 percent over failure, so designing above code is typically a waste. An exception is that there are pocket markets where customers require joist design a bit above code to avoid perceived floor deflection or bounce. It’s easy to do a quick check. Do a field walk during framing:
We spend a lot of time and effort training our teams and developing them in our culture and so the retention and ongoing development of our talent is critical. But to retain and continue to develop our teams does not just mean spending more money, which in this economy we don’t have. Treating people with respect and listening to them has a huge impact.
The construction industry dramatically impacts the environment, with buildings consuming 17 percent of the world’s fresh water, 25 percent of its wood harvest, and 40 percent of its material and energy flows. 
Lots of matrimony talk lately. From the saccharin sweet royal wedding to the much publicized split between J’Lo and Marc Anthony - some marriages are meant to last while others fade away. The marriage that I am most excited about (save for my own naturally) is the one between Lean design and curb appeal. These two young lovebirds are guaranteed to make it for the long haul.
A discussion erupted this month on the LeanBuilding Group on Linked In about how do you define value to the customer? One of our members was assailing builders who go cheap, installing ubiquitous “builder grade” products. I replied that there are fine lines sometimes. One person's better value can be another's substandard. Not so long ago, vinyl siding was considered almost universally a cheap product. That is rarely the case now though.
I took a detour the last two years in my consulting career in residential home building by leading one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the US.  It was an interesting assignment but offered very similar challenges as what I have seen in the home building arena for the last 25 years.

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