Setting a Customer-Centered Course

Pulte Homes charts a customer-centered course that starts with employees.
By Heather McCune, Editor in Chief | September 30, 2004
Challenging the conventional builder perspective on product procurement, logistics and trade relations, Pulte Homes' Reggie McCoy outlines a new customer-centered philosophy on purchasing, the industry's umbrella heading for these three integrated functions. With customers squarely at the center in Pulte's purchasing operation, McCoy aligns this critical function to the rest of the organization's goals. This focus and alignment recently netted the nation's #2 home builder some impressive wins:
  • National Housing Quality Gold Award, not for a division (something it and several other national builders have achieved in the past) but for the entire organization. To earn the hardest award to win in home building, Pulte first completed a ten-page application on eight key business areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer satisfaction, performance management, human resources, construction quality, supplier partnerships and business results. In phase two, a team of judges traveled to corporate to verify application information. With less than two weeks notice, the judges picked at random five divisions to audit. At each location they found the same thing: documented business processes that put customer satisfaction first.
  • J.D. Power first-place wins in 14 of the 25 largest home building markets in the United States, nine second-place finishes and six third-place finishes. In addition, the company is the first-ever recipient of Power's Platinum Award for Excellence in Customer Service. "Pulte Homes continues to be a standout among new-home builders, repeatedly pushing the benchmark for customer satisfaction in the markets they serve,” said Paula Sonkin, executive director of J.D. Power's real-estate industries practice.

I'm not on the payroll at Pulte Homes. As editor of GIANTS my job is to work for all of you — finding the ideas and actions that push the industry forward. Right now that means looking at what is happening in Bloomfield Hills and at offices and job sites nationwide. To explain the difference in its simplest terms, I must borrow a line from TrueNorth Development CEO (and former Pulte employee) Scott Sedam:

"What Pulte understands is that having the priorities around the customer is the route to the numbers. When management understands that, it changes everything."

Ultimately, it's all about the culture — creating an organization focused on a mission so simple, so consistent that it can be driven by the newest rookie or the most seasoned president.


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