Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
2008 Avid Award Winners
Avid Award winners for 2008 leverage customer loyalty in home building to survive the housing slump.
Whether you're selling more homes than you can reasonably build or struggling to get rid of high inventories, nothing sustains a business better than a cadre of delighted customers who loyally send new home buyers your way. Industry research proves that it's twice as hard to sell a home to a regular prospect as it is to sell one to a referred home buyer. This fact alone — especially in light of the current downturn in the market — should be enough to convince every builder to reevaluate and improve its customers' experience.
Some builders have already done the hard work of creating a customer-centric organization. To recognize them, we created the Avid Awards, presented by Professional Builder. Each year, the awards honor select home builders that deliver the best customer experience as measured through surveys of actual home buyers. Many home builders vie for the honor, but only a few qualify for the prestigious award.
In many industries, quality-driven and customer-centric businesses have become market leaders, and this same evolution is taking place in the home-building industry. Whereas home builders a generation ago could succeed with little regard to customer satisfaction, they now realize that creating loyal customers is vital to long-term success.
Builders that excel in customer relations are turning out to be the strongest survivors. Consider Gerstad Builders, this year's Avid Diamond Award winner, which generates about 50 percent of its business from referrals and repeat buyers. While many other builders are forced to spend marketing dollars they don't have to lure in prospects, Gerstad relies on delighted customers to do much of its marketing — for free.
A builder's reputation for top-notch products and service also help define its brand, another valuable tool in good times and bad. Avid Award winner Lakewood Homes has been able to maintain its reputation for quality construction and service while re-engineering its processes to trim thousands of dollars of waste from the cost of each home.
Other builders have been able to use their strong traditions of delighting customers to attract buyers during this period of high inventories and low demand. Avid Award winner Van Metre Homes, a builder that also manages apartment complexes, does such a great job delighting renters that its tenants become an easy sale when they are ready to buy their first home.
Lastly, in Phoenix, Avid Award winner Blandford Homes orchestrated a scene reminiscent of 2005, when buyers camped out to have the first opportunity to buy their newly released homes.
As builders become increasingly cognizant of the impact the customer experience has on the bottom line, more of them are aggressively soliciting feedback from their home buyers and using that data to improve their overall operations. This year's Avid Award winners illustrate what you can do to turn a sour market into sweet profits for your company.
Click on the links below to view the winners features in the November 2008 issue of Professional Builder.
|Avid Diamond Award; Best Customer Experience in North America: Gerstad Builders||Avid Award — 500-plus Closings: Lakewood Homes|
|Avid Award — 100-499 Closings: Van Metre Companies||No. 1 in Phoenix: Blandford Homes|