100% Ready to Go

Engle Homes Orlando delivers 100 percent every time. Read on to learn about their strategies.
By By Paul Cardis, Avid Ratings Co. | October 31, 2007
Engle Homes Orlando
Winning Strategies

At the pre-closing orientation, an Engle Homes Orlando representative reviews the features of the home, maintenance guidelines and other documents with homeowners.
The only way to get referrals is to deliver an outstanding customer experience. Many builders seemed to forget this basic tenet of business in recent years when they couldn't build homes fast enough to meet demand. But Engle Homes Orlando has never undervalued the importance of customer loyalty, which is why the Florida builder has been able to hold sales steady while many builders are reporting dramatic declines.

In fact, 93 percent of the division's home buyers say they would recommend the builder to a friend. This high degree of customer loyalty is just one reason Engle Homes Orlando is this year's winner of the Avid Award for Best Customer Experience, 500-plus Closings.

A division of Technical Olympic USA, Engle's mission is to deliver a home that is 100 percent ready at the time of closing. That means no outstanding defects. It's an ambitious goal, yet 70 percent of the company's homes are zero-defect during the first inspection, says Ashley Burleson, division president.

A week before closing, a quality assurance team, which is separate from the construction and warranty staffs, inspects the home again and flags any problems to be fixed before the walk-through with the home buyer. "That way, we're not making a punch list at walk-through," Burleson says.

Employees are rewarded with cash incentives, prizes and public recognition for zero-defect homes. Weekly reports track every home closing that week, listing how many items were found on initial inspection, orientation and closing. When no items are found, everyone working on the home receives a ticket that is entered into a lottery for cash prizes up to $10,000. The more tickets an employee earns, the more chances he or she has of winning the big prize. In addition, pendants are awarded to staff during company ceremonies for homes that have no repair items at closing.

Engle Homes Orlando's quality assurance representative domonstrates to a homeowner how to replace the air-conditioning filter and maintain the condensation line.

Engle Homes continues to care about home quality well after closing. The builder surveys home buyers 30 days after closing using Avid Ratings to assess their experience and levels of loyalty. Between 60 and 90 days after closing, the warranty department conducts a 200-point inspection and educates the home buyer on routine home maintenance, flagging things that could cause long-term damage.

This level of caring has paid off for Engle Homes, which hasn't had to offer some of the deep discounts some other builders are offering to attract home buyers. "Customer satisfaction and referrals pay off, especially in a market like this," Burleson says. "When everyone is out there giving $20,000 or $30,000 incentives to buy, we're focusing on the quality of our homes."

Topic Difference in Score Above Industry Average
Time Until Closing 9.8
Landscaping/Grading 8.7
Number of Pre-Closing Items Corrected 7.0
Warranty Policy Received/Explained 5.8
Recommend to a Friend 5.2


Engle Homes Orlando

Best Customer Experience 500-plus Closings

Headquarters: Hollywood, Fla.

Chief Executives: Antonio B. Mon, CEO; Ashley Burleson, division president

Number of Employees: 200

Product: Single-family, condominiums, townhouses

Average Square Footage: 2,600

Average Price: $379,000

2006 Closings: 1,000-plus

2006 Revenue: $413,812,000

Avid Index: 258 points (out of 300)

Home Buyers Willing to Recommend: 93.4%

Home Buyers Making Actual Referrals: 74.3% (15.2% making 6 or more)

Winning Strategies

  • Build customer relationships that generate referrals. In today's market, referrals are worth twice what they were a year or two ago, says Ashley Burleson, division president.
  • Actively solicit referrals. At Engle Homes Orlando, sales associates are responsible for making 10 home buyer calls each week to ask for referrals — easy to do when you know you're delivering quality homes and your customers are delighted.
  • Show vendors and subcontractors that you value them as part of the team. This has helped Engle Homes meet closing deadlines even when problems arise with product shipments or inclement weather.
  • Personalize the experience for home buyers whenever possible. For example, Engle Homes offers a 100 percent sod lawn with irrigation as part of its standard landscaping package, but home buyers can choose between a tropical design with palm trees and a northern look with hardwood trees.
  • Review the warranty early and often. Engle Homes includes the warranty as part of the customer orientation and the closing. "When we set up closing, we tell them to bring their orientation guidebook, which includes the warranty, with them," Burleson says. "We make sure they have it, read it and understand it."

Check out the Avid Award winners

Avid Awards Main Page

The Green Company

Ruiz Homes

2007 Market Focus: Atlanta