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.
NHQ 2009: K. Hovnanian’s Virginia division has cultivated trades who love them
Silver NHQ Winner K. Hovnanian Virginia has trades who are “raving fans.” The company demonstrates genuine desire to cultivate loyalty and true partnership with their subs.
Builders strive for raving fans — customers who can't stop singing the praises of a home builder that has gone the extra mile to make their home purchasing experience phenomenal. But you don't hear a lot about home builders making raving fans of their trades, the folks they hire to build homes that make their clients swoon.
K. Hovnanian's Virginia Division's ability to produce “raving trades” played a huge role in its being selected as an National Housing Quality Award Silver Award winner this year.
“They have the most amazing trade partner relationships I've seen in all my years of judging the NHQ awards,” says judge Dan Green, vice president of Newton Centre, Mass.-based The Green Company, a former NHQ Silver Winner. “The support, closeness and dedication of the relationship is unprecedented in my view. It would be beneficial for other builders to replicate this.”
In it together to win
During the NHQ site visit, trade representatives for K. Hovnanian Virginia told judges such things as, “I'd be more inclined to help them than the majority of other builders I work for,” “We work together with K. Hovnanian so that the homeowner doesn't have to incur the cost of the replacements,” and “I have given price concessions … because of the partnering I feel with them.”
Cultivated loyalty: Gary Chandler (left), Paul Huff and K. Hovnanian Virginia's management take care of their trades, and those subs are willing to go to the mat for them.
Gary Chandler, president of the Virginia Division, says the company recognizes the tangible benefits of partnering with trades and of looking for ways to help each other. They have open discussions about how their subs can run a more efficient operation and build more quality into their product and processes.
“They are a highly motivated group,” says Chandler. “Our fate is tied, obviously. They really get the fact that without them sharpening their pencil as much as they can, we're not going to be able to sell houses, and that will limit the amount of business they have.”
To that end, the company encourages all of its key trade partners to become NHQ Certified.
“Working with trades who are [NHQ] certified allows us to talk the same language,” says Paul Huff, director of quality, Mid-Atlantic (Maryland and Virginia) for K. Hovnanian, in the division's written application. “Our discussions with trades are different now. They are no longer, “Do you have a quality system?” but “How can we better support your in-process inspections?”