It’s not all about the application, it’s the journey.
Home builders that approach the National Housing Quality (NHQ) Awards as a trophy they can feature in an advertising campaign find they don’t measure up to the criteria of having a system for continuous improvement. Applicants, no matter how wonderful, can’t write their way to the industry’s top prize for achievement in total quality management.
The 250-question application goes deeper than simply asking for financials and how a company is run. It seeks to discover whether systems and processes exist in eight areas of a builder’s operation: leadership, strategic planning, performance management, customer satisfaction, human resources, construction quality, trade relationships, and business results. Filling out the application is largely a self-assessment exercise that measures a company’s current status in these areas and where it needs to improve.
According to Dan Horner, co-founder of True Homes, a 2019 NHQ Gold winner: “What NHQ does is make you define what the game plan is that you want to implement. But, more importantly, [it makes you assess whether] you have the operational systems, people, and culture to execute that game plan.”
While the format for the NHQ Awards is modeled on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and ISO 9000 concepts for quality management systems, NHQ is exclusively tailored to the home building industry. There have been 120 NHQ Awards given to builders, remodelers, trades, and suppliers since the first honor was presented in 1993. A jury of quality management experts and past NHQ Award winners reviews and scores the written applications from which finalists are selected for site visits. A judging panel then visits and grades the builders to validate that the systems and processes mentioned in the application are in use. These grades are combined with the application scores to determine the gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention status of the finalists. All applicants receive a 15-to-30-page feedback report describing both their strengths and opportunities for improvement.
“You have the insight of the judges ... plus the NHQ process is really a self-examination,” says Mike Garman, president of land acquisition, development, and sales for Silver winner Garman Builders. “As you keep going at that application, you find holes or gaps within your systems and processes just by filling it out. Then you get the benefit of sitting with the judges and learning how they went through this process and the advice and wisdom that they pass along. You can hardly pay enough for that.”
- Access a PDF of this article in Pro Builder's October digital edition