Why Luxury Makes Sense for Laing

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At John Laing Homes, satisfying the luxury buyer - one uninterested in enduring the usual custom home process - means creating a division populated with people uniquely focused on their needs and wants.

December 01, 2003
The Laing Design Studio team: (from left) design consultants Leah Brazo and Rebecca Wetzel and vice president Joan Marcus-Colvin. Left: Plan 3 at Laing Luxury's Nautilus at Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, Calif.
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In most parts of the country, prices for much of California production housing would fit squarely in the luxury home category. Yet at John Laing Homes, satisfying the luxury buyer - one uninterested in enduring the usual custom home process - means creating a division populated with people uniquely focused on their needs and wants.

Headed by Tom Redwitz, Laing's Luxury division fits neatly into CEO Larry Webb's overall strategy to maximize growth in high-profit niches.

In 2003, its first year, Laing Luxury will close seven homes with an average sales price of $1.9 million for $13.3 million in total revenue. In 2004, the brakes come off. Redwitz projects 70 closings for $134 million in revenue. "We're off to a fast start," he says, "with the right locations combined with well-appointed and well-designed homes."

Creating a dedicated team for luxury housing fast-tracks knowledge at every level. Maureen Kohal manages purchasing for this division, and her experience with a custom home builder sets Laing's spec level apart from its competition's yet keeps its pricing competitive.

Kohal works with each supplier to create a unique package of products for each development. "What other builders offer as options and upgrades, we include," she says. "It means creating new relationships with new vendors and educating ourselves on new products, but to our buyers, this makes all the difference."

Setting and then meeting or exceeding service expectations throughout the selection and construction process start at the top at Laing Luxury and ultimately involve every team member. The sales process mirrors the time-tested approach used throughout the company

, but in this division, coaching buyers through the options and selections process takes on a decidedly custom feel. Design consultants work with every buyer in a model home option center. Together on screen, they select options, place product choices (think lighting) right on the buyer's floor plan and price each piece along the way. Before each meeting, buyers can access Laing's options selection catalog, but final choices can be made only in the office.

"This protects the buyer," says Robin Koenemann, vice president of operations. "We work closely with our construction staff on site to verify every change and review every option."

Redwitz says the key to making this process - this whole business - work is effective communication. "It starts with hiring the right people, giving them the right tools and then involving the customer every step of the way."

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