Posted by: Mike Macaluso | December 19, 2009

Case Study: Standardization in the New Home Introduction

 

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

© December 2009 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.   twitter-logo

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Responses

  1. […] See the original post here: Case Study: Standardization in the New Home Introduction « Lean … […]

  2. That sounds like a fantastic improvement. Having been on the receiving side of that process, I certainly see the benefits.

    Many people would argue that because there is going to be variation in this process caused by the customer, that it can’t be standardized. I argue instead that because of the customer-added variation, why on earth would you want to make it worse by adding your own variation without standardization? This is a great example that validates my points.

    Keep up the great work.

  3. Great Job Mike! Sounds like the theory of Standardization – and the ability to utilize it to make your job easier is working. Until we can see the waste removal and the effects of that removal, it is difficult to lead the change….it sounds like you have seen the first fruits of your “Standardization Labor”.

  4. We run into this over and over again, something just like it. Everyone agrees on the new standard and everyone agrees to implement it a certain way then no one does it. They just do it they way they always have. I like the steps you went thru to get everyone on board and educated and then certify them. I agree with the earlier posts that you can’t do much about customer-added variation but you can control your own variation to keep waste to a minimum. I also like the comments that you should still follow up again to make sure that you really removed all the non-value added steps. This is very motivating. Thank you for sharing.

  5. What a great article. Change is tuff and it shows that making the change in the long run, works for everyone!

  6. Excellent article that shows how a huge undertaking progresses step by step until there is a standardized process. Very empowering to be able to complete that project without the direct supervision from management. Great job.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Lombard and Michael Lombard, Michael Lombard. Michael Lombard said: Good info: Case Study: Standardization in the New Home Introduction:   Change is tough — especially w.. http://bit.ly/91pfik […]

  8. Good job, Mike. This is an interesting case study. You mentioned that there were some challenges implementing the new standard. As a Construction Professional who will be going thru your certification, what were some of the challenges the CP’s had to adopting the new standard?

  9. Having done plenty of intro’s myself, this has helped me focus my presentation on the most important value added items to the customer. A shift in the focus from a “punch-list” walk to almost an exciting seminar about your home was vital. Re-selling and presentation at this point are crucial. Most homeowners are stressed with financing, moving trucks, changing mailing addresses, etc. this presentation goes a long way in building their confidence and washing away any fears they may still have. Excellent work Mike.

  10. Good job, Mike. There is a delicate balance when mixing manufacturing environment tools with customer service, especially when scripting employee behaviors. I’ve seen that telling people exactly how to do the job rather than having them focus on the outcomes they should achieve if the job is done well creates robots. I was reading another blog where the point was made that scripts might reduce variability in how the job is done, but it also increases variability in the desired outcome. The result can easily become bland service with no soul; The wildcard being emotionally engaging the customer.

    Definitely remember to consult with realty agents and your Sales force for tips on keeping this moment in the customers mind fun and educational. This meeting with the homeowner is valuable and exciting. Having a routine set of points to cover is important, just be sure to keep in mind that first and foremost you are to build the relationship.
    You mentioned focusing on a Pleasurable Buying Experience, so it sounds like you are well on your way to a great documented process. Good Luck!

  11. […] new Teammates learn about this new standard? Do you need to develop a certification program? When the New Home Introduction was improved, the PDCA group developed a certification program and required all Construction Professionals to […]

  12. […] the closing process for most home builders, they provide a New Home Introduction (some call it an ”Orientation” or “Walk Through”) followed by a […]

  13. […] review our houses at several stages, including slab, frame, stucco and one last time before the New Home Introduction. His input and photographs are invaluable, but he also reinforces our dedication to eliminating […]


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