Raising the bar means that top standards must permeate every aspect of work culture. Just ask the winners of this year’s National Housing Quality Awards.
A common challenge for home builders is being so busy in the business—either moving product from scheduling to close during a good market, or being completely focused on surviving during a downturn—that they can’t step back, get some perspective, and work on the business.
Looking at the big picture seems like a luxury when managers are consumed with juggling daily tasks, projects, and goals. Most builders would agree that self-assessing their company would be productive, but carving out the time and resources to do so is difficult.
Shawn Hanks, senior construction manager for Maracay Homes, in Scottsdale, Ariz., had been prodded for years by Charlie Scott to apply for the National Housing Quality (NHQ) Awards. Scott is an NHQ Awards judge and principal of customer satisfaction consultancy Woodland, O’Brien & Scott. Hanks pushed back because, at the time, undertaking a self-assessment for the awards application seemed like an “extracurricular activity” given the TRI Pointe Group division’s staffing. But this year, completing the application finally seemed appropriate.
Modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the NHQ Awards are the home building industry’s top recognition for achievements in total quality management. Builders apply by completing a questionnaire about the following areas of their business plan: leadership, strategic planning, process management, customer satisfaction, human resources, construction quality, trade relationships, and business results. A panel of NHQ Award winners and quality management experts reviews the applications and selects finalists for site visits by a team of examiners. The examiners validate the information submitted, survey customers, interview employees and trade partners, and ultimately designate gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention status to the winners.
“There were so many validations once we put our application together,” says Hanks, of Maracay, which won a Silver award. “To get it all on a piece of paper as a sort of stream of consciousness was really powerful for us. Putting the application together even identified refinements that we needed to make in particular areas.”
David Simon, president of operations for Gold winner Veridian Homes, in Madison, Wis., says, “A lot of people spend their time in the business, get bogged down, and sometimes they don’t step back and look at the big picture. But by doing so, you discover things where you can just get better.”