Small- and large-volume builders must satisfy their customers with quality homes, though how builders accomplish this must be appropriate for the size of the business. "The award is not about sophisticated systems, fancy pictures or elaborate applications," says Ed Caldeira, NAHB Research Center’s Director of Quality Services. "It focuses on the degree to which builders integrate quality into their businesses. Builders of any size are capable of this. We encourage all quality-driven builders, large and small, to apply."
For builders wanting to learn about the elements of Total Quality, the award application is an education in itself. The award criteria set the learning agenda. The application’s questions invite builders to examine their Total Quality practices in seven categories: leadership, quality planning, customer focus, quality management, human resources, information management, and quality results. Applicants learn their strengths and weaknesses, and recognize opportunities to improve their business.
"We regard the NHQ award as a national education program," says Liza Bowles. "The award criteria are the centerpiece of an education process." Builders who want an expert assessment of their quality practices should submit an application. Every applicant receives personal feedback and rating scores from an experienced NHQ examiner. For many small builders, this is their main source of information on how well they’re doing on applying Total Quality principles.
"Our feedback to applicants provides direction to builders who wish to upgrade their quality management capabilities," says Caldeira. "Of the three NHQ winners this year, two applied for the award last year. I like to think that our feedback is a valuable part of the builder’s quality improvement process."