Signature Service

John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods excel in the Atlanta region.
By By Paul Cardis, Avid Ratings Co. | October 31, 2007
John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods

John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods has been delighting home buyers in Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Charleston, S.C. But it is the Atlanta region where the company has really wowed home buyers, earning it the 2007 Avid Award for Best Customer Experience in the Atlanta market.

At the center of the company's success is its customer touch point program, which continues to catalog hundreds of formal and informal opportunities for the company to interact with home buyers, from online experiences that do not involve employees to scheduled meetings with sales reps, design staff and building supervisors. The program emphasizes how to make each of these touch points a delightful experience for customers.

A big part of the Wieland experience is the relationship home buyers have with their Signature Builder, who updates them on the progress of their home at least once a week. Even if there isn't much to report, the Signature Builder uses this as an opportunity to elicit concerns, review the next milestone or just relay a piece of news about the neighborhood. "Everything is geared to connecting with that buyer," says Jack Wieland, senior vice president of customer experience.

No level of communication, however, can make up for a home that isn't ready at the time of closing. "One of our basics is delivering a 100 percent complete home," says Kelly Rulis, vice president of customer relations. The company accomplishes this by building individual accountability into the construction process and by having standards that typically exceed what most home buyers expect.

"We have a good process in place with the building team," says Eric Price, president and COO. Using a 500-point checklist, each home is certified internally at least one week before closing to make sure there are no defects when the home buyer does the orientation walk-through.

"We've made a really big, philosophical point that we're not going to close unless the home is 100 percent ready," Price says. "It's better to delay the closing, because you can never go back and rebuild that confidence." Of course, a zero-defect home is an advantage only if the customer sees it as such. So John Wieland Homes continually solicits customer feedback to make sure there are no latent concerns before and after closing.

Service after the sale is an integral part of Wieland Homes' success. Each customer is assigned a Signature Quality Manager who addresses any warranty issues, says Rulis. Home buyers have 24/7 access via a dedicated customer service phone number, as well as the ability to submit requests online. "There are a lot of touch points after ownership," adds Wieland. "It doesn't end at the closing phase."


John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods

Best Customer Experience in Atlanta Market

Headquarters: Atlanta

Chief Executives: John Wieland, chairman and CEO; Eric Price, president and COO; Jack Wieland, senior vice president of customer experience; Kelly Rulis, vice president of customer relations

Number of Employees: 947 full time, 67 part time

Product: Single-family, mixed-use townhouses and condominiums

Average Square Footage: 3,200 for single family homes and 2,600 for townhouses

Average Price: $500,000

2006 Closings: 1,500

2006 Revenue: $735 million

Avid Index: 243 points (out of 300)

Home Buyers Willing to Recommend: 91.6%

Home Buyers Making Actual Referrals: 83.3% (25% have made six or more referrals)

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2007 Market Focus: Atlanta

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