Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Home Builder’s Guide to Innovation

Every day in every state new home buyers make appointments with modular home builders and just about every day those builders do business the same way they’ve always done business.

But could there be a better way? Indubitably!

There’s a single word that can bring great success to your business or possibly strike fear into the hearts of some. That word in Innovation.

Innovation means trying new ideas, creative thinking, new imaginations and is viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements for both you and your customers.

How hard is it to be innovative?

It’s not an easy process to add into what you may consider your perfect way of selling and building a new modular home for your buyers. The majority of modular home builders sell less than 5 new homes a year. Would you like to increase that two-fold? Three-fold?

To be truly innovative as a builder you must repeatedly implement great new products, processes and services. Doing what you did in the past, no matter how successful they may have been, will soon find you playing catch up to your competition.

Innovation doesn’t need to be a pain in the butt to implement. The innovative suggestions below are easy to do and some can actually be fun.

The easiest innovation to add to your business is to copy another builder’s ideas. Google your competitor's website and those of modular builders across the US and see if any of them are presenting their company in a better way than you. It’s best to ask your sales manager, if you have one, your spouse or a trusted colleague to review them with you. Two beers and pizza are a great way to enjoy this process.

Here’s another very easy way to learn what needs improved. Ask both your past customers and your current customers how you could improve the way your process works. Be prepared though, even your favorite past customers will not be bashful in telling you. If you hear the same response more than once, that is an area in need of innovation. Listen to their suggestions carefully and choose the ones that will really pay back.

Innovative thinking may be needed if your customers have difficulties with any aspect of the sales or building process. Every difficulty encountered by your customer is a chance to innovate.

Sometimes innovation requires you to eliminate something in your sales process or your building process. Take a hard look at every step in both and if you find a bottleneck, eliminate it and replace it with a more clearly defined one.

Here’s a great way to learn how innovation can help solve a problem. This one is not easy but you must do it. Ask your people. They’re the ones that interact with your customers almost daily. Even if you only have a Project Manager and use subcontractors for everything, sit down with him/her and really listen to what they perceive as things that need changed. If you innovate to make it better, you will have made your PM or employee feel like a real part of your business.

Some innovative ideas will require time from your busy schedule. These include posting to Facebook, reading books and magazines and sharing your thoughts and concerns on LinkedIn. If you haven’t already, join your local NAHB chapter and begin networking.

Is it time to ask ‘what if?’ if you have successfully implemented some of these innovative ideas and your business business begins to grow? What innovative changes will be required if my business actually doubles, triples? Many businesses have gone under simply because they got so much new business they couldn’t keep up. Those ‘what if’ questions can produce some of the most innovative ideas you’ve ever had. Play the game. It doesn’t cost a penny to do it but not doing it could cost you your business.

Try something new. In your Google search of other builders across the US, maybe one is doing something you never considered doing. If they’re not a competitor, call or email them and ask how that new product, new option or process is working for them and what do you need to do to successfully implement this innovative idea into your business. Builders love helping other non-competing builders. It’s just our nature.

And finally, go back in time and look at some of the successful things you used in your business’ infancy stage that you have forgotten to continue. Maybe it was goofy like giving every new home buyer a ‘Welcome’ basket when you handed them the key to their new home. Personally, I gave every buyer either a new gas grill if I built them a deck or a new Toro Lawn Mower. I’ve had buyers tell me years later how they remember and used that gift.

Most of these innovative ideas cost little more than time and maybe a pizza which shows you that not every innovation in the new home business has to involve buying that new F350 you’ve had your eye on.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

No comments: