In speaking to many builders and re-modelers weekly, it has been interesting to take note that the classic performance appraisal has fallen by the wayside since the economic downturn. Many tell me that this process became a non- value added activity when all the layoffs began in 2006 and since that time no-one in their organization has really seem to care.
For several years I led 600 real estate agents across multiple markets. About 20% of my business involved the Homebuilder. Here’s what I learned that can be very helpful to the homebuilder when the real estate agent is marketing your new construction.
While dining at a restaurant recently I was asked by the waiter how my meal was and if there was anything that could be improved. The meal and service were wonderful and I had only one minor suggestion. But I did end by thanking them for asking! When was the last time you were asked by a business how they could improve?
As a dedicated practitioner of Lean process and methods, one of the more aggravating things I sometimes hear is a builder bragging about how they are obviously “Lean” because they have gone through three, five, or seven rounds of rebids. Everyone had to do rebids during the past five years of the housing recession. After all, customers have in effect rebid the builders continually. Because foreclosures and short-sales still make up a significant part of the market, that means that the rebidding from the consumer end continues.
Have you ever heard a framer say, “I just make it look like the picture”? I have — far too often. They are referring to a lack of elevation detail on the construction drawings. For some reason this is relatively common. Many drawings I have reviewed show that there was a good deal of effort expended making sure the floor plans are dimensioned and detailed accurately. The elevation drawings, however, not so much. What’s up with that? A little elevation humor: up, elevate… get it? Don’t fret, I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon.
Now is the time for 100% customer satisfaction and operational improvement: Your trades as true expert partners
While all builders are trying to become leaner, more innovative and customer focused to impact the bottom line, we should not forget about reaching out to our trades. Our partners are crucial and remember they are the experts in their specific area of the business.
Measure twice and cut once. I think that is probably the first thing I ever learnt in construction and I learnt it as a kid listening to my Dad and Uncle while they reviewed plans in the evening and worked on site each day. You can’t get a more fundamental quality management concept than that and it’s a phrase we use so often in the industry. The concept of course applies to all aspects of design and construction. We can consider it when drafting a home plan, estimating, material storage, construction and customer service.
In the wake of Steve Jobs retirement announcement as CEO, Apple shares fell by 5%. For most people Apple is Steve Jobs, so that’s not a surprise. He is staying on in a leadership role, can you imagine the fall if he had stepped away entirely? Jobs created, then saved and kept Apple as one of the world’s most valuable and innovative organizations. But it wasn’t just vision and inspiration. He created new and must have products during a recession!
The New York Times today has more information on what the Obama administration is considering to stimulate the housing industry (and hence the economy.) Consider me underwhelmed. Unfortunately, it's more of the same: mortgage assistance and encouraging rental programs. After all, it's worked so well before.
Todd Hallett and I are working with a fantastic smaller builder in California this week. They really “get it” and are very open to input from all of their suppliers and trades. They build very good looking homes at affordable prices and are highly sensitive to anything that would “dumb down the house” or hurt the visual appeal in any way.
As I sit on a plane bound for Fresno I am procrastinating. I know I have to put together this week’s blog but there are a few things to handle first. I need to thoroughly read my Newspaper (front to back even the boring stuff). Of course I cannot get started until the snack portion of the trip is over. I must garner some energy from Delta ’s bizarre oblong ginger cookie thing. Most sinful of all? A quick game of computer solitaire before I begin. We all do it from time to time right?
From Cargill to Caterpillar, from Motorola and Boeing to Ritz Carlton they all use the Baldrige Criteria to successfully drive performance excellence at a world class level. They are not alone, healthcare, education, non-profits and small business organizations also use the criteria all over the world. The National Housing Quality Award is based on the Baldrige criteria and our industry has also found the criteria a powerful way to drive improvement and increase profits.
We all know the job market continues to be lousy more than two years after the recession officially ended. There's a variety of reasons for this.
The Washington Post is reporting this morning that President Obama's jobs program will include amongst its many proposals more relief for struggling homeowners. The president will lay out the particulars of the proposals after Labor Day. Details are lacking at this point on housing, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
Photo: Ply Gem Windows’ Builder Series Pocket Door can span up to 12 feet and is just $400 for the base model. If you missed the results of our annual 101 Best New Products report, I encourage you to check out our landing page for the 2011 winners, www.HousingZone.com/101BestNewProducts/2011.
In case you missed it in the news section of HousingZone, Fiserv and Moody's Analytics are predicting home prices will increase in 365 out of 384 metro areas by 2013. Here are what they're saying will be the top-five and bottom-five performers over the next two years. The best:
There's not much doubt where new construction sits these days -- bouncing along the bottom. The remodeling market, on the other hand, is a lot more difficult to get a read on.
I recently conducted several searches in both residential and commercial businesses in multiple states. The positions ranged from superintendents to heads of Pre-Construction and Construction roles.I started with each candidate by spending an average of 1.5 hours on the phone discussing experiences, backgrounds, personalities, likes and dislikes and strengths and developmental areas……No rocket science stuff, just give me the facts….After talking to a huge group of potential candidates, I narrowed down the pool to a critical few.
I am finishing up my September column for Professional Builder based on a list of the 10 biggest myths of Lean Building, and I just wrote about one of the most aggravating — the idea that Lean process savings don’t count like saving in sticks and bricks.