Woodland, O'Brien & Scott

Charlie Scott has more than 30 years of first-hand home building experience, much of it in senior management positions with an award-winning, nationally recognized Midwest builder. Currently, he's director of Woodland, O’Brien & Scott for Constellation Homebuilder Systems. Scott helps North American home builders grow their own customer-centric cultures, pursue operational excellence, and increase referral sales. Write him at Charlies@woodlandobrien.com.

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Performance bonuses have been around the homebuilding industry for a long time.  Salespeople earn commissions and bonuses based upon their sales productivity, and Superintendents earn bonuses for their Quality, Budget and Schedule performance.  For the most part, customer satisfaction bonuses were left out of the equation…until that is…a particular marketing company decided to venture into the home building industry with their version of “Customer Satisfaction” awards.  Regardless of the accuracy or merits of that award program, it proved to be a performance bonus game change

Team sports analogies have long been used in home building for obvious reasons.  They both have the common component of individual performances that roll up into team results.  Home building is the ultimate team endeavor, made up of internal employees and external trade partners numbering into the thousands.

Why is teamwork important in home building?  The answer is potent – customers' teamwork ratings are highly correlated to customer referring activity and future referral sales! 

Readers may recall a study I did a few years ago attempting to identify the most reliable predictor of future new home sales activity.  The closest predictor turned out to be the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Study (MCSS).  The trick was that you had to adjust the MCSS data six months FORWARD to match new home sales.  In other words, six months after MCSS started to improve, new home buyers feel confident enough to buy a new home.

Some customers can be “impossible to please” (IP), but keep in mind, when open to the public, a home building company is exposed to all personalities within the public.  After all, that idiot that cut you off on the highway this morning lives somewhere!  This means, on rare occasions you will sell a home to one of these IP customers.  A home builder that builds 20 homes per year statistically should experience an IP once every 2-3 years.  A home builder building 300 homes per year will likely see 8-10 IP customers per year.  The question is: What should be the strat

Many experts have said that it is unreasonable for a company’s leadership to expect their employees to take better care of their customers, than the company does for the employees.  There is a lot of truth in this reasoning, but in addition to customer satisfaction implications there are business operations to consider too.

When the industry tanked, most home building companies felt that if an employee still had a job, they darn well should be satisfied!  The drastic market decline forced builders to 1) reduce staff, 2) eliminate bonuses, 3) trim benefits and even 4) reduce

We can all relate to great leaders, but we may fail to note what makes them so.  Harry Truman is quoted as saying, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”  Such is the case with last year’s Professional Builder Magazine’s Builder of the Year, DSLD Homes and their leader Saun Sullivan who is a prolific reader.  His reading titles could be classified as the home building industry’s must read list, and he shares these gems with many (thanks Saun!).

This week's installment of Charlie Scott on Customer Satisfaction in Home Building questions how new houses are delivered to customers.  Admittedly this entry is a bit cryptic, and you will have to study it, but hopefully this cryptic analogy will bring some clarity to your home building company's delivery process.  Clearly, there is no one "right" way to deliver homes to customers, but it is critical that a home building company deliver on all promises and meet (or exceed) the customers' expectations.  Bon appetit! 

Years ago, well after the huge productivity gains of the industrial revolution, employers still sought productivity improvement.  In an effort to find these productivity gains, many studies were conducted to find causes and effects of higher productivity.

The most popular study was done at Hawthorne Works between 1924-32, where researchers tinkered with many variables, then measured worker output to see if their tinkering had the desired effect.  The most famous experiment involved slowly increasing the lighting – which resulted in higher output, however, this higher output

Every builder wants to have outstanding customer satisfaction, right?  Our research shows that to accomplish the highest customer satisfaction builders must think outside the box, and I don’t mean the proverbial “creative box,” I mean literally outside the house box!


In our role as the “Voice of the Customer” partner for many of the nation’s leading home builders, we read and analyze thousands of customer surveys.  This extensive multi-market, multi-builder research allows us to  pattern and identify the industry's most frequent customer

Home building is an extremely complicated business and as such requires very intelligent people and systems.  Think about it for a second.  To build a home, over 400,000 pieces/parts and 2,000 people must be precisely coordinated to bring these pieces, parts, and labor all together at the right time in the right sequence – and often at a remote address that may not have even existed 2 months earlier, WOW!  It takes very dedicated, intelligent people and solid, well planned, processes to pull that off!

While the home building industry is blessed with people of abov

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December 2016

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