Change is tough — especially when you’re changing (or standardizing) something that your Teammates have been doing their own way and have established habits — both good and bad.
We began standardizing the way we present the New Home Introduction to the Home Buyer — the walk through of their home a couple of days before closing. For some Construction Professionals, they were spending 45 minutes conducting the Introduction. Another Construction Professional could intro the same size home and spend 3 hours. Some would go over every detail about the home warranty and another wouldn’t even mention it. Worst of all, a lot of our home buyers had the expectation that they needed to go through the home and look for anything and everything wrong. In fact, one homebuyer actually brought his own roll of blue tape so that he could mark the walls. It was crazy.
We began the standardization process in November ’08 and have been patiently but adamantly enforcing the standard since. Back in ’08, our first step was to show the need to standardize the process and get every Construction Professional delivering a consistent message, focused on re-selling the home and delivering a pleasurable home buying experience. We then provided education on how to achieve it. All of our Construction Professionals wrote Kaizens about the problems they experience with their current way of doing it and everyone read a chapter about conducting the New Home Intro in a customer service book endorsed by the National Association of Homebuilders.
In early ’09, a few Construction Professionals — guys who actually do the New Home Intro, no management — initiated a PDCA to improve and standardize the process. We hired a consultant to work with them and develop the standard. He walked us through a house and asked us about some of the problems we face. He then taught us how to overcome those problems and even how to avoid them. I led the PDCA group and it was one that we constantly had to go back and check/adjust a few times before we really had an idea of how to standardize it.
By Spring ’09, the PDCA group rolled out the new standard across the company to all Construction Professionals. We created SWISes (Standardized Work Instruction Sheets) with photographs for all the Construction Professionals to follow. Then that summer, the PDCA group set up a “certification process” in which we coached our peers in performing the process. We ”certified” those that were doing it correctly — and even had the difficult time telling a few Construction Professionals to try again.
By Fall ’09, almost all Construction Professionals have been “certified” by the PDCA group and our Construction Team has a collection of success stories about the benefits of the new process.
It was a slow roll-out and we are now on the adjust step of the PDCA process. We are continuing to improve the process based on the results we have had since its inception. The change was gradual but once everyone experienced some success it became clear why the change needed to be made. I think the most important step was that, while the leaders of the company (management) initially saw the need for change, they let those closest to the problem truly lead the change. It has been one of our best examples so far.
— Mike Macaluso, Construction Professional