2010 NHQ Awards: Wayne Homes' Happy Employees Keep Happy Clients

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Wayne Homes' solid processes and focus on satisfied employees and customers earns it a Silver in the 2010 National Housing Quality Awards.

October 01, 2009
Sidebars:

Focus on Improvement

NHQ Judges

Company Profile

VIDEOS: Judges' Insight

 

Wayne Homes focuses on putting the right employees in place
A positive team Wayne Homes management, led by owners Bill Post and Dave Logsdon (front center), have created a

company culture that recognizes employees won’t treat customers any better than a company treats its employees.


Photo: Roger Mastroiani/Getty Images

It's often said that you can't expect your employees to treat your customers any better than you treat them. That's a lesson that Wayne Homes has taken to heart.

With an emphasis on communication and putting the right people in place, the Ohio-based on-your-lot builder has improved company culture and customer experiences. That focus on human resources and the leadership that inspires it has earned the company a Silver Award in the 2010 National Housing Quality Awards.

It'd be easy for the Wayne Homes employees to get discouraged. The company builds homes in the hard-hit industrial heartland of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Plus, Wayne Homes has been through two ownership changes in a decade, merging with Centex in 1998 and becoming independent again at the end of 2007 when long-time Wayne Homes veterans Dave Logsdon and Bill Post took over the company.

Instead, in interviews with randomly selected employees, the judges were impressed with how loyal and optimistic the employees were and how they've embraced the company's mission and vision.

"The employees buy into the culture," said one judge. That comes from a leadership that communicates openly and frequently with their employees, the judges added.

Company leadership gets the message out through a series of regular meetings ranging from one-on-ones to department meetings to company-wide town halls. Every employee meets for a half-hour on a weekly or biweekly basis with their manager to go over personal goals and growth opportunities, and employees receive "Growth Reviews" every six months.

The communication is not just one-way, either. Management regularly solicits employee feedback through the regular reviews, employee surveys, suggestion boxes and Opportunity for Improvement (or OFI) forms (see sidebar).

"They truly have the best interests of not just the corporation in mind, but the interests of those people who are helping build the corporation," said one judge.

Wayne Homes uses a rigorous hiring process to make sure it gets the right people in place. When the company makes a hiring decision, it's about whether they'll be a good fit rather than if they have a lot of experience. Noted one employee: "They're looking for good people — they'll find you a position."

After the initial interview, applicants take a personality profile screening created by The Berke Group to measure their compatibility with the characteristics needed to succeed in a given role.

After a second interview, where managers use the information developed from the Berke profile to guide questions, potential employees go through a final "Retention Interview." The hiring manager meets with the applicant and his or her spouse or significant other at the prospect's home, setting the expectations for the workload and answering any questions the partner may have.

Once they start, employees attend initial training and orientation at the home office and meet the company management and principals before starting at one of eight local sales offices or five construction offices. On the first day, every employee also receives two books: "Raving Fans" by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles and "Zingerman's Guide to Giving Great Service" by Ari Weinzweig, both of which help to reinforce the company's employee and customer focus.



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Wayne Homes: A 2006 Great Workplace

 

Focus on Improvement

One of the key ways wayne homes improves quality is through a process called Opportunities for Improvement, or OFIs, a process adapted from David Weekley Homes. Employees can submit suggestions for how the company can improve operations or add value to the homeowner experience ranging from the small to major changes such as how the company staffs its after-hours call line.

OFIs are evaluated in weekly meetings that don't include senior management. After the suggestions are researched, the committee has the power to implement them or not. About 400 to 500 OFIs are suggested a year and about 80 percent of them are implemented, saving Wayne Homes thousands of dollars and improving the customer experience, according to the company.

"Something like this exists in most good companies, but the trick is that they are disciplined enough to consistently use it," one judge said.

NHQ Judges

FRANK ALEXANDER, Actus Lend Lease, Nashville, Tenn.

DAVID CALIGARIS, The Green Co., Newton, Mass.

KEVIN EGAN, T.W. Lewis, Tempe, Ariz.

KEVIN ESTES, Estes Builders, Sequim, Wash.

TOM GILLESPIE, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

DAN GORSKI, Veridian Homes, Madison, Wis.

DANIEL GREEN, The Green Co., Newton, Mass.

DENIS LEONARD, Business Excellence Consulting, Bozeman, Mont.

STAN LUHR, Qualitybuilt, San Diego

SERGE OGRANOVITCH, The Potomack Group, Locust Grove, Va.

CHIP PENNINGTON, Shea Homes, Scottsdale, Ariz.

ALEX SALOUTOS, The Office of Alex Saloutos, Madison, Wis.

CHARLIE SCOTT, Woodland, O'Brien & Scott, St. Paul, Minn.

GARY ZAJICEK, Veridian Homes, Madison, Wis.

PAUL CARDIS, Avid Ratings, Madison, Wis.

The National Housing Quality Awards are sponsored by Professional Builder.

Company Profile

Wayne Homes

Uniontown, Ohio

Founded in 1973

On-your-lot builder on scattered sites throughout Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

2008 closings: 424

2009 closing goal: 425

Tagline: "For all the Right Reasons"

VIDEOS: Judges' Insight

Watch and listen to the judges on the Wayne Homes site visit share highlights of the NHQ Silver-winning company.

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