We live in fast times. The homebuilding industry is projected to have an even better year in 1999 than it did in 1998. This success places extreme demands on your business and time. Now more than ever, speed becomes a needed component in achieving ambitious goals in this competitive marketplace. Employees and vendors involved in our projects must deliver quicker decisions and then act on them just as fast.
Conversely, your work and relationship with customers still requires nurturing. Your homebuyers have more questions, ideas and requirements than ever before. It takes a lot of patience and handholding by your staff and to answer their questions and quiet their fears. As a builder and owner, your challenge is to balance the different types of communication and interaction required in business today. Doing so is difficult, but finding a way to marry the two is critical.
No where in our industry today is the speed vs. nurture dichotomy more evident than in the builder/architect relationship. Depending on the types of homebuyers you target, this relationship changes. Do you need floor plans and elevations quickly so land can be developed at a pace that manages the investment? Or is your customer more interested in forming a marriage between the three or you?
Doug Buster of Bloodgood, Sharp, Buster Architects and Planners (Palatine, IL) primarily works with production builders and has regularly worked with Professional Builder on model home projects. The experience of his organization provides an understanding of both builder and market needs.
"Every job has some level of stress between the builder and architect," states Buster. The builder wants to make a profit; develop product that represents the company properly in the market; and, because they are sitting on valuable land, manage the sales pace. The architect desires good, high quality design that meets the builder’s sales requirements: price, structure, etc. He also want to create a place he can revisit 20 years later and feel pride in the accomplishment.
Custom homebuilders are more sensitive to the nurture aspect of the builder/ architect relationship. Often an endorsement from an architect can eliminate the bid process for the builder. If each signs onto the goal of working for the customer-rather than against each other-discussions of alternatives vs. value vs. design becomes issues about the home and not a "me vs. you" confrontation.
Though the nurture aspect should remain in this relationship, the end result of this communication can speed the process. An architect who invests in tools to enhance their work can eliminate time and change the phrase, 'we’re slow and expensive but we are good.'
The key is to establish a process - together - that can work at a speed regulated by the project instead of the communication. Clarify individual needs, write each other’s job descriptions, gain clear market or customer insights, and define the pace and markers to be achieved. Speed may even become the end result of the nurture.