I love the easy ones! Scott Sedam and I were implementing a Lean Plan Workout recently and a very simple cost saving opportunity presented itself. Eliminate the tire stop in the garage. A tire stop is an area of raised curb in the garage designed to remind drivers to stop once they are in their garage. The argument is that if they really need this reminder maybe they should not be behind the wheel in the first place.
This builder discovered that tire stops do not provide significant value to their customers. In fact the competition had eliminated this element long ago. The decisions was simple - get rid of it. This resulted in saving approximately $125 per house. This was just one of over four hundred improvement items identified during the week long implementation. The vast majority of items were behind the walls, and providing no benefit to the customer, in other words pure waste. In a time when the trades and suppliers just do not have the ability to reduce their costs further, designing and building lean is the way forward for profitability.
A solid strategy is to take a portion of savings identified and put them back into the home. The cost savings provide an opportunity to upgrade curb appeal and increase amenities. Now the home costs less, looks better and offers more goodies. This results in highly improved marketability, increased sales absorption, and higher profit. Sound too good to be true? It's not. Builders who employ Lean Design and Building are going to lead the field in 2012 - count on it.